Flint Faces Pressure from own Board

ABA members have sought legal advice on how to rein in Chairman, David Flint.

Authority members have been advised that only by seeking a Federal Court injunction could they stop Professor Flint presiding over an investigation into the ABC, according to The Sydney Morning Herald’s Lauren Martin and Wendy Frew.

The Herald quotes an ABA source as saying: “There are QCs’ opinions all over the place here, but Flint is bullet proof.”

Professor Flint has told the ‘7.30 Report’ that he had sought a legal opinion on whether it would be appropriate for him to preside over the investigation into ABC bias complaints. He also says an ABA Board member raised concerns with him previously.

He has told the Herald he is under no pressure from the Government to resign.

Authority members were advised that if Professor Flint did not stand aside during investigations, where he might be seen to have a conflict of interest, there was little under the law that other Board members could do to force him.

Professor Flint’s term expires in October and cannot be renewed. Members hope that by then, the Authority will be subsumed in a larger regulatory agency, which combines it with the Australian Communications Authority, which regulates broadcasting frequencies.

The Friends of the ABC has expressed concerns about the appropriateness of Professor Flint overseeing the investigation into Iraq bias complaints.

Spokeswoman, Margaret O’Connor, says: “The Friends are asking whether it is appropriate for Professor Flint to chair an investigation into the ABC, given that (Richard) Alston appointed him directly [to the ABA].”

Professor Flint says he strongly supports the ABC, has no conflict of interest over the investigation and that he, not other members, has requested legal advice about chairing the investigation.

A spokeswoman for Communications’ Minister, Daryl Williams, says he remains confident “in the ABA”.