Justin Milne has resigned as ABC chairman amid backlash over the sacking of managing director Michelle Guthrie and allegations that he interfered in the broadcaster’s editorial freedom.
Although ABC Board asked him only to stand aside during investigation, Milne decided to step down to provide a “release valve” for the pressure built up by reports after Guthrie’s exit.
Reports said Milne had asked her to sack two leading ABC reporters because the government “hated” them.
One report by Fairfax Media said Milne emailed Guthrie in May to fire senior journalist Emma Alberici. Another report in News Limited publications said he ordered the sacking of political editor, Andrew Probyn.
Milne said he never sent an email to Guthrie or anybody else saying Emma Alberici or Andrew Probyn should be sacked.
Milne said the government did not meddle in ABC’s affairs which he looked after.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison welcomed Milne’s resignation saying he made the right call.
Opposition parties used the opportunity to hit out at the Morrison-led government by demanding a Senate inquiry into the circumstances that led to Guthrie’s sacking.
Labor MP Michelle Rowland said the inquiry is essential as public’s confidence in the national broadcaster has been shaken by “political interference.”
Greens senator Sarah Hanson-Young wanted the entire ABC board to quit to ensure that its journalists can do their job without fear or favour.