Federal cabinet has signed off on the appointment of the 77-year-old, and the decision is likely to be announced within days, The Australian reports.
The development comes after the rancorous exits of former chair Justin Milne and managing director Michelle Guthrie.
Milne stood down in September after being accused of encouraging ex-managing director Michelle Guthrie to fire some journalists, claims he has denied. The ABC board had sacked Guthrie only days earlier.
Reports emerged on Monday that Buttrose, the 2013 Australian of the Year, was shaping up as the government’s pick for the national broadcaster’s top job.
The communications minister said at the time a decision has not yet been made.
But when asked about the potential appointment, prime minister Scott Morrison described Buttrose as an “extraordinary Australian”.
“There have been few people more than Ita that I think have lifted the standards of journalism in this country,” he told ABC News.
“That says a lot about her character and her abilities.”
Morrison also confirmed Buttrose was not on a shortlist of candidates prepared by an independent nomination panel.
Labor leader Bill Shorten said Buttrose is a well-respected Australian, but raised concerns that she was not canvassed through the government’s headhunting process.
“Her name has risen to be chair of the ABC because the company the government contracted couldn’t even get the process right and now we’ve got more political interference,” he told reporters on Monday.
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