Michelle Guthrie’s sacking as managing director of ABC has opened a can of worms.
ABC chairman Justin Milne announced the board’s decision on Monday September 24, 2018, which stated: “It was not in the best interests of the ABC for Ms Guthrie to continue to lead the organisation.”
Since then, Guthrie has come out saying that she was “devastated” by the move and that she would be considering her legal options.
Guthrie’s sacking was reportedly due to her leadership style, which didn’t sit well with the ABC Board. However, she said that she had had no complaints about it.
A report by Fairfax Media said that the ABC chairman told Guthrie to “get rid” of its high profile presenter Emma Alberici in an email sent on May 8, citing government complaints. “I think it’s simple. Get rid of her. We need to save the ABC – not Emma,” Milne wrote.
Speaking on ABC Radio Melbourne today, Alberici revealed that the Fairfax news report was the first time she’d heard of this.
Since the Alberici revelations, there have been calls from commentators and ABC staff for Milne to resign.
Hundreds of ABC staff gathered outside the broadcaster’s building in Sydney, asking Milne to stand down as chairman while an independent inquiry into the allegations takes place.
Malcolm Turnbull's friend Justin Milne always seemed reluctant to defend the ABC when it was under attack from a thin-skinned, incompetent government for its journalism. Now we know why. His continuing chairmanship is a major threat to its independence.
— Bernard Keane (@BernardKeane) September 25, 2018
Gloves off. Emma Alberici suggests ABC chair Justin Milne has a "conflict of interest" because he is chair of a company she has written about regarding corporate tax #auspol
— Bevan Shields (@BevanShields) September 25, 2018
Justin Milne’s exposed rationale behind his stance on a govt complaint goes to the heart of the ABCs independence. And he’s the chairman!
— Barrie Cassidy (@barriecassidy) September 25, 2018
The MEAA has published a statement, which in part reads: “They would indicate Mr Milne has no understanding of editorial independence, proper complaints handling processes, or the appropriate distance a board chair needs to keep from staffing matters.
“If true, Mr Milne should resign immediately.”
The developments have the Twittersphere talking again with “Justin Milne”, “ABC Staff”, “Emma Alberici”, “#HandsOffOurABC” and “ABC Board” all trending nationally.