ABC staff demand chairman step down pending political interference investigation

ABC staff demand chairman step down pending political interference investigation
Photo by J Bar via Wikimedia Commons

Chairman of the ABC, Justin Milne, is being asked to step down from his position following reports he wanted to fire a reporter disliked by the Government.

During a staff meeting at the ABC’s Ultimo office, hundreds of upset employees carried a motion (unanimously) asking for Mr Mile to stand down while an independent investigation into his alleged behaviour takes place.

The fiasco started when Fairfax reported that it had received an email from the 8th of May in which Mr Milne told the ABC’s then managing director, Michelle Guthrie, that the Coalition Government hates economic reporter Emma Alberici and that they need to “Get rid of her”.

In the email, Mr Milne allegedly said that “we need to save the ABC – not Emma” and that “there is no guarantee” that Labor would win the next election. For many, this implied that the ABC sought a favourable relationship with the sitting government and was willing to let one of its top reporters go for the sake of that relationship.

In a statement released by Mr Milne, he failed to comment on whether or not the Fairfax reporting was accurate and instead gave a cookie cutter response about the integrity of the board managing the ABC.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said that the accuracy of the Fairfax report had not yet been confirmed and declined to give an answer when asked if Mr Milne should resign.

There are also reports that Mr Milne attempted to prevent the Triple J radio station from moving it’s Hottest 100 countdown, citing the reaction of then Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in his reasoning.

Tanya Plibersek, the acting Opposition leader, said that it was a “shocking abuse of power” if it was true the Coalition Government had pressured the ABC to sack a reporter.

Several politicians have expressed their concern over the notion of political interference within the ABC. On Twitter, Bill Shorten said that while he did not always agree with the ABC’s reporting, he understood the importance of its independence for Australia’s democracy.