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In case you missed it yesterday, ABC chair Ita Buttrose has accused the Morrison government of political interference over a decision to announce a Senate inquiry into the way the national broadcaster and the SBS handle complaints from the public.

Ms Buttrose will ask the government to suspend or terminate the inquiry, which was announced by Liberal senator Andrew Bragg, chair of the Senate standing committee on environment and communications, on Thursday.

ABC chairwoman Ita Buttrose has accused Senator Andrew Bragg of political interference of the broadcaster.Credit:Alex Ellinghausen/James Brickwood

The committee, which is expected to report by February 28, is examining “the complaints handling arrangements” of the broadcasters. The ABC had already commissioned a review into the same topic, with a reporting date of April.

“The [Senate] committee will examine the adequacy of the existing arrangements to provide a framework that is accessible, responsive, efficient, accountable and fit-for-purpose,” according to the terms of reference.

Ms Buttrose said the review undermined the public broadcaster and was a clear example of interference by the government.

“This is an act of political interference designed to intimidate the ABC and mute its role as this country’s most trusted source of public interest journalism. If politicians determine the operation of the national broadcaster’s complaints system, they can influence what is reported by the ABC,” Ms Buttrose said.

Senator Bragg’s decision to conduct an inquiry was made after the national broadcaster announced last month it had commissioned its first official review into the way it handles complaints in 12 years. Ms Buttrose commissioned former Commonwealth and NSW ombudsman, Professor John McMillan, and former SBS, Seven and Ten news boss Jim Carroll to run the review, which will hand down its findings by April.

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