An incoming Coalition Government may have to live with whoever the Screen Australia board and current Government anoint as the agency’s new chief executive.

That’s despite the Shadow Arts Minister George Brandis flagging that, if elected, the Coalition reserves the right to review such appointments.

The Screen Australia Act empowers the board to appoint the CEO after consulting with the Arts Minister, legal experts have told IF. Once that person is appointed, there is no provision in the Act for the Government of the day to terminate the CEO.

The incumbent Ruth Harley, whose five year term expires in November, informed staff yesterday she has withdrawn her application for the job after the board told her it believes that the organisation should have a new CEO.

The chairman Glen Boreham told staff, “The process for appointing the next Screen Australia CEO is progressing to schedule. I expect to be able to make an announcement within the next few months.”

IF understands the board is considering applicants with international experience.

In April Senator Brandis told SBS Film the agency and the Labor Government should postpone a decision on the CEO until after the election. He said, “The Opposition is of the view that, except in exceptional circumstances, no appointments or reappointments should be made to senior Government positions where such appointments would commence after the election. Such appointments are a matter for the new Government – whether it is a re-elected Gillard Government or an Abbott Government. The Opposition reserves its right to reconsider all such appointments if it were to win the election. “

IF asked the Senator’s office if that is still his position or whether he now accepts that in Government he would not have the power to intervene. His spokesman said there is “nothing further to add.”

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