Ita Buttrose to step down as ABC chair in 2024

Ita Buttrose.

ABC chair Ita Buttrose has advised the government she is not seeking reappointment following the completion of her term in March next year.

The Cleo founder and former Australian of the Year became the second woman to hold the position in March 2019 when she took over from acting chair Kirstin Ferguson, following the departure of Justin Milne the previous September.

In the time since, the broadcaster has dealt with the impact of a three-year funding freeze from the previous government, the amount of which has since been reinstated by Labor, as well as celebrated its 90th anniversary.

Her tenure has not been without controversy, having faced criticism for her response to the departure of Q&A host Stan Grant, who stood down from his position in May after being subject to racial abuse.

Questions were also raised about the ABC’s new five-year plan when it was unveiled in June, with the public broadcaster outlining its intention to become an integrated digital platform by 2028 and announcing a restructure that includes the removal of a standalone arts department.

In a statement, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said Buttrose was the “right chair for the right time”.

“Ms Buttrose is a giant of Australia’s media industry, and the government thanks her for her exemplary service as chair of the ABC,” she said.

“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.

“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.

“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.”

The selection process to appoint the next chair will be conducted by the independent nomination panel for ABC and SBS appointments, supported by the Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communications and the Arts, and an external executive search agency.

Buttrose will remain the ABC chair until her term expires on March 6.