Weekly News Roundup

September 28, 2018

Image: ABC News

Scott Morrison says he will nominate Dr Kirstin Ferguson to be the ABC’s acting chair, after a week of unprecedented chaos at the national broadcaster.

Key points:

  • The nomination comes after chairman Justin Milne resigned amid accusations he interfered with the ABC’s editorial independence
  • Dr Ferguson said she “loves the ABC” and is “honoured” to be nominated as acting chair
  • The broadcaster’s managing director Michelle Guthrie was sacked on Monday

The Prime Minister made the announcement in Sydney, and confirmed he would take his pick to the GovernorGeneral today.

Mr Morrison said he wanted Dr Ferguson to be the ABC’s deputy chair.

“Should the Governor-General accept that recommendation then she [Ferguson] will also be in the position of acting chair of the ABC until such time as a new chair appointment is made through the normal process,” he said.

Dr Ferguson has sat on the ABC board since 2015, and is an experienced director with 10 years’ experience on the ASX100 and ASX200 boards as well as private company and government boards.

She was the creator of the social media campaign #CelebratingWomen, which saw her nominated for the Walkley Foundation’s Our Watch Award for best use of social media.

Senior ABC staff have begun questioning the corporation’s board after managing directorMichelle Guthrie was sacked on Monday, and chairman Justin Milne resigned on Thursday.

“I think it is important for the ABC to restore normal transmission as quickly as possible,” Mr Morrison said.

“There are vacancies and appointments to be made, but it is important that the ABC gets back to work,” he said.

Radio National presenter Patricia Karvelas said Dr Ferguson told her: “[It’s] a massive responsibility but I just love the ABC so much, I am just honoured to take it on.”


Brett Kavanaugh has strongly denied accusations of sexual assault, after Christine Blasey Ford gave testimony that she was certain the Supreme Court nominee was her attacker 36 years ago.

During hours of questioning in a dramatic US Senate hearing, Dr Ford detailed allegations that she thought Mr Kavanaugh was going to rape and perhaps accidentally kill her.

Dr Ford, whose voice sometimes cracked with emotion, testified to the Senate Judiciary Committee during a hearing that could determine whether Mr Kavanaugh will be confirmed to the lifetime job after a pitched political battle between US President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans and Democrats who oppose the nominee.

After watching both testimonies, Mr Trump gave Mr Kavanaugh his vote of confidence in a tweet, calling for the Senate to move ahead and make a decision on Mr Kavanaugh’s nomination.

“With what degree of certainty do you believe Brett Kavanaugh assaulted you?” Democratic Senator Richard Durbin asked Dr Ford.

“One hundred per cent,” she replied, remaining firm and unruffled through hours of questioning.

Dr Ford said “absolutely not” when Democratic Senator Dianne Feinstein asked her if it could be a case of mistaken identity.

Dr Ford, a psychology professor at Palo Alto University in California, said a drunken Mr Kavanaugh attacked her and tried to remove her clothing at a gathering of teenagers in Maryland when he was 17 years old and she was 15.

“Brett groped me and tried to take off my clothes. He had a hard time because he was very inebriated and because I was wearing a one-piece bathing suit under my clothing,” she told the hearing.

“I believed he was going to rape me. I tried to yell for help,” Dr Ford said, adding that Mr Kavanaugh and a friend of his, Mark Judge, were “drunkenly laughing during the attack”.

She said Mr Kavanaugh put his hand over her mouth to stop her from screaming.

“This was what terrified me the most, and has had the most lasting impact on my life. It was hard for me to breathe, and I thought that Brett was accidentally going to kill me.”

Dr Ford said in a response to Democratic senator Patrick Leahy that her strongest memory of the incident was the “uproarious laughter between the two (Kavanaugh and Judge) and their having fun at my expense”.

She said the laughter has haunted her ever since.


Telstra has refunded more than 72,000 customers more than $9.3 million after they unwittingly subscribed to an ongoing service from a third party supplier.

The Premium Direct Billing (PDB) program saw customers signed up without even realising it when they used third party apps on their phones.

Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) chairman Rod Sims said it was too easy for people to unknowingly subscribe.

“Really you didn’t have to do much to sign up,” Mr Sims said.

“You didn’t have to put in your credit card details, you didn’t have to double-click anything.”

The ACCC said for some time Telstra received more than 10,000 complaints a month from disgruntled customers who were paying for a service they did not want.

In April this year, the Federal Court fined the telco $10 million for making false or misleading representations about charges for digital content, such as games, wallpapers and ringtones.

It also put in place a redress program for affected customers which has resulted in the payout to customers.

But the ACCC believes there are many more customers who are owed compensation.


This weekly news roundup is curated with stories from ABC News

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