ABC boss to step down from top job

Buttrose said she had enjoyed her time as chair and there was still “much to do” before she quits in March.Picture: NCA NewsWire/Gary Ramage

Ita Buttrose will step down as head of the ABC next year.

Communications minister Michelle Rowland announced on Tuesday that the “formidable corporate leader” will step down as chairwoman of the public broadcaster in March 2024.

“Ms Buttrose was the right Chair for the right time,” Ms Rowland said.

“She navigated the public broadcaster through a challenging period that included strident political criticism, the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing transformation of the ABC so it can remain an essential part of Australian life in the digital age.”

Ms Buttrose was appointed for a five-year term in 2019 under the former Coalition government.

The 81-year-old media veteran oversaw the ABC’s major transition to digital. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gary Ramage

Her election came after former chair Justin Milne quit over allegations he had breached the independence of the ABC, and months after the sacking of former managing director Michelle Guthrie.

The government said Ms Buttrose acted as a “strong defender” of the independence of the ABC and a “fierce advocate” for its role in Australian society.

“Ms Buttrose is a formidable corporate leader who has served with distinction, speaking truth to power and upholding governance standards to protect independent public broadcasting,” Ms Rowland said.

“She has much to do in the remainder of her term and will leave the ABC stronger than when she was entrusted with the role in 2019.”

The government will now fill three roles on the ABC’s nine-person board. Picture: NCA NewsWire.

In 2021, Ms Buttrose accused the Morrison government of attempting to intimidate the public broadcaster after the Senate launched an inquiry into the ABC’s complaints handling process.

She also oversaw the introduction of a major ‘five-year plan’ to transform the ABC into a fully digital platform by 2028.

Ms Buttrose’s replacement will be selected by an independent panel supported by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts, and an external executive search agency.

The government said it would begin the election process “in due course”.