ABC Chairman Justin Milne has resigned amidst of allegations of political interference.
The crisis within Australia’s national broadcaster began on Monday when Managing Director Michelle Guthrie was sacked.
Within 24 hours allegations against Justin Milne began to emerge amidst threats of legal action from Guthrie.
David Anderson, appointed as Acting MD, says staff were surprised by the news. Other media were all over the story, dissecting Guthrie’s management term for reasons for her sacking.
By Wednesday allegations of political interference from the Chairman began to surface in relation to Emma Alberici, Andrew Probyn and the Triple J Hottest 100 date change.
The board met with Milne this morning and shortly after that meeting he resigned.
Justin Milne has issued this statement:
In an exclusive interview with ABC TV 7.30‘s Leigh Sales, Milne described the week’s events as a “firestorm” and said he “wanted to provide a release valve”.
“Clearly there is a lot of pressure on the organisation, and as always, my interests have been to look after the interests of the corporation… It’s clearly not a good thing for everybody to be trying to do their job with this kind of firestorm going on.”
The Community and Public Sector Union says the resignation of ABC Chairman Justin Milne has underlined the need for an independent inquiry into inappropriate political interference at the national broadcaster.
Mr Milne tendered his resignation this morning, four days after the ABC Board announced the surprise sacking of ABC Managing Director Michelle Guthrie.
CPSU ABC Section Secretary Sinddy Ealy said: “CPSU members working at the ABC had publicly called for Justin Milne’s resignation and we believe this was a necessary step to begin repairing the damage from what’s been an enormously traumatic week for ABC staff. But this resignation won’t provide a ‘release valve’ as the departing chairman has claimed unless there is also a fully independent inquiry into the level of political interference at the ABC.”
“We need a forensic examination, not mere denials from the outgoing chairman and Coalition politicians to have confidence that the ABC is being allowed to operate in the interests of Australians not in the interests of the Liberal Party. Mr Milne’s denial of interference rings hollow, particularly when he hasn’t adequately responded to reports he demanded that senior journalists were sacked.”
“Justin Milne and Michelle Guthrie have both failed the ABC and the Australian public with such public squabbling, but we are far more concerned at the ongoing attacks on the ABC by the Liberal Party and the Morrison Government. The broadcaster has been devastated by Budget cuts and it now appears the Government may have used its funding powers as leverage to improperly influence the ABC’s operations. That is a deeply disturbing possibility and a probe reporting directly to Communications Minister Mitch Fifield is obviously not going to resolve this.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison says Milne’s resignation is “the right call.”