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Ita Buttrose vows to bring stability to the ABC

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Ita Buttrose is the new chair of the ABC, with the prime minister declaring the businesswoman, journalist and former magazine editor has the “strength, integrity and fierce independence” needed to do the job.

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“Australians trust Ita, I trust Ita, and that’s why I’ve asked her to take on this role,” Scott Morrison said this morning.

Buttrose replaces Justin Milne, who left the taxpayer-funded broadcaster six months ago after clashing with former managing director Michelle Guthrie.

Her appointment comes despite her not being included on a shortlist of recommendations for the position given to the Federal Government.

Morrison said the 77-year-old had a passion, deep knowledge and empathy for Australians.

She has also demonstrated a commitment throughout her media career – which began at age 15 in a copywriting job at the Australian Women’s Weekly – to putting her audience first.

“That’s what the ABC needs to do too,” he said.

The former editor of Cleo and Australian Women’s Weekly magazines and The Daily Telegraph said she’s honoured to be leading the broadcaster.

“I consider it one of the most important cultural and information organisations in this country,” she said.

Her first job will be restoring stability to the management of the organisation after the sudden and disruptive departures of Milne and Guthrie.

“It’s time to get the ABC functioning again with proper, stable management and good frank discussion between the chair and whoever is the managing director,” Buttrose said.

“If there’s not a close relationship between the chair and the managing director, you cannot make an organisation work efficiently and well.”

She also promised she wouldn’t be afraid to ask the government for more funding and defended the ABC push into the online news space, saying it had a right to be there.

The 2013 Australian of the Year will be the second woman to head the ABC since Dame Leonie Kramer in the early 1980s.

Morrison will recommend Buttrose’s appointment, under a five-year contract, to the Governor-General.

-AAP

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