ABC plan to spend $500m is shelved

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - NEWS - ANNIKA SMETHURST NA­TIONAL PO­LIT­I­CAL ED­I­TOR

PROJECT JetStream, the mul­ti­mil­lion-dol­lar in­fra­struc­ture plan cham­pi­oned by ousted ABC chair­man Justin Milne, has been shelved fol­low­ing his res­ig­na­tion.

Se­nior gov­ern­ment sources told The Sun­day Tele­graph Mr Milne had never pre­sented the gov­ern­ment or ABC board with a blueprint for the project, which was de­scribed as a new data­base de­signed to kick in when tra­di­tional tele­vi­sion in­fra­struc­ture was switched off.

“That’s not hap­pen­ing any­time soon … we never got much de­tail about it,” one staffer said.

“I don’t know if it’s dead but I don’t know how it will be dealt with now.”

Mr Milne had urged fel­low board mem­bers to back his mys­te­ri­ous “big data­base” that was ex­pected to cost $500 mil­lion in cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture and take years to com­plete.

Dis­agree­ments be­tween Mr Milne and dumped ABC man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Michelle Guthrie were be­lieved to be one of the rea­sons for her re­cent sack­ing.

The ABC is un­likely to have a full board or per­ma­nent man­ag­ing di­rec­tor un­til early next year af­ter a dis­as­trous week for the pub­lic broad­caster that saw the sack­ing of Ms Guthrie and the res­ig­na­tion of Mr Milne. One se­nior gov­ern­ment staffer pre­dicted “it will be Fe­bru­ary at the ear­li­est” be­fore per­ma­nent re­place­ments are found.

Sev­eral gov­ern­ment sources told The Sun­day Tele­graph they didn’t be­lieve act­ing chair Kirstin Fer­gu­son would stay on as chair of the ABC board.

One gov­ern­ment MP said deputy chair­man Peter Lewis, who over­saw a 2014 re­view that rec­om­mended merg­ing the back­room op­er­a­tions of the ABC and SBS, was be­ing pushed to take over.

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