ABC board meetings emerge as David Leyonhjelm’s latest ABCC bargaining chip

Liberal Democract Senator David Leyonhjelm is crucial for the government’s bid to reintroduce the Australian Building and Construction Commission. Photo: Andrew MearesThe Australian Broadcasting Corporation has emerged as the latest bargaining chip in the government’s frenzied bid to reintroduce a building industry watchdog before Parliament rises for the year.

As revealed by Fairfax Media on Monday, Liberal Democrat senator David Leyonhjelm has agreed to support the Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC) in exchange for changes to the way the ABC board conducts its meetings. Senator Leyonhjelm’s vote will be crucial for the government to pass its bill to reintroduce the ABCC, one of its double dissolution election triggers.

Under the deal with Senator Leyonhjelm, the government has agreed that the ABC and SBS will follow at least half their board meetings each year with open community forums. At least two would be held in regional areas.

Senator Leyonhjelm said the forums would make the ABC more receptive to the views of Australians who live outside the “goat’s cheese curtain” of inner city Sydney and Melbourne.

“There are certainly plenty of people who believe the ABC and the SBS for that matter is inclined to have a particular point of view that doesn’t necessarily reflect those people who are in the regional areas in particular,” he said.

The government will write to the boards of the ABC and SBS to advise them of the policy. If necessary the government will issue a written direction to SBS to hold the forums and introduce legislation to do the same for the ABC.

The deal could cause consternation within the ABC which fiercely guards its independence from government and tends to resist interference in its operations.

Another aspect of the deal would see the government take a “lead role” in reforming suppression order regimes which stop the media reporting court proceedings. The government has committed to take up the matter with state and territory governments through the COAG process.

Senator Leyonhjelm described the changes as “freedom offsets” for the coercive powers contained in the ABCC bill. He has said he will pull his support for the bill if the government agrees to increase flows to South Australia from the Murray Darling Basin.

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This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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