ABC staff are calling for an inquiry into political interference in the national broadcaster by the chairman, Justin Milne.
They want him to stand down while an Inquiry takes place.
The motion was passed unanimously by a show of hands at stop work meeting held in Sydney today. radioinfo sources present at the meeting say about 600 staff attended the meeting inside the national broadcaster’s Ultimo headquarters.
The union motion called for an independent inquiry into an email the chairman allegedly sent to Michelle Guthrie in May. The email, calling on her to sack reporter Emma Alberici during a dispute over an article about the government’s innovation funding, was revealed today by Fairfax Media.
As other media observed from outside the ABC, prevented by security guards from entering the building, the meeting almost began in the foyer next to a giant stuffed teddy bear, but was hurridly moved when it was discovered there was a scheduling conflict for the foyer area, where a kids farm animal display was being held for the staff child care centre. The meeting was moved to the Dot Strong terrace, then staff and union representatives moved outside to take their case to the public arena.
MEAA spokesperson Paul Murphy said (see video below):
“We have passed a motion today calling for the chairman to stand aside while this matter is investigated.
“It is crucial that we can do our jobs backed by the ABC, otherwise independent journalism goes out the window. This is critical for a free media in this country…
“This goes beyond the ABC… imagine if at Fairfax they were sacking senior journalists just because they weren’t liked by the government. No journalist can do their job in that situation…
“If the chairman thinks this is an appropriate thing to do then he does not understand his role or the importance of maintaining the integrity of the ABC.”