ABC staff call on Justin Milne to stand aside

ABC staff in Sydney stopped work today to unanimously pass  a motion calling for an independent investigation into Chairman Justin Milne, and for him to stand aside for the duration.

More than 300 ABC staff packed in over two floors for the lunchtime crisis meeting in Sydney.

The action follows reports told former managing director Michelle Guthrie to sack presenter Emma Alberici after former prime minister Malcolm Turnbull sent a list of grievances about Alberici’s reporting.

“We can’t have this coming from the board,” senior ABC journalist Stephen Long said.

“If the chairman thinks this is an appropriate thing to do, the chairman does not understand his role.”

Crisis meetings were also being held at ABC headquarters in Melbourne and Brisbane at lunchtime on Wednesday.

In Brisbane, staff took their demands further calling on Mr Milne to “immediately resign” if it’s found reporting on a damning leaked email he sent to former ABC boss Michelle Guthrie is true.

An email sent to ABC staff today from the ABC house committee said: “We need to send a message that it is not okay for the chairman of the board to bow to political pressure about ABC coverage.

“This is vital to the ABC’s independence and our ability to report fearlessly and independently.”

In a statement this morning, Milne said: “The job of the ABC Board is to independently govern the Corporation, protect its best interests, ensure that it is well funded, well managed, and that our content is of the highest standards.”

The Media, Entertainment and Arts Alliance has called for Mr Milne to resign, with chief executive Paul Murphy saying the “deeply disturbing” revelations showed “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”.

Deputy Labor leader Tanya Plibersek has also entered the conversation, saying any government pressure on the ABC to sack Alberici would be a “shocking abuse of power”.

“If it is true that the government or the prime minister himself have pressured the ABC to get rid of reporters whose reporting they don’t like that is a shocking abuse of power,” she told reporters this morning.

“One of the things Australians love and treasure about their ABC is its integrity and independence. It’s the most respected news organisation in Australia and it can only maintain that integrity and independence with the support of its board and an absolute refusal to buckle to political interference.”

Source: News Corp, Fairfax

6 Comments:

  1. This is really starting to sound like Michelle Guthrie was trying to keep the ABC as the charter wants it, from both Justin Milne and David Anderson saying she was against Project Jetstream and wanted the money spent on content to this. Even in other articles it says Anderson was the one to cancel Lateline, The Checkout, Good Game and Tonightly, seems to me like Gutherie was being brick walled a lot during her time in the position.

  2. The Right Wing only has Sky News as their Soap Box? Hmmm what about News Corp papers and Talk Back Radio???

    There is no left wing media, there is no Ad revenue for leftie media. Hence why there is no Left Wing Talk Back . You can’t sell items to people who aren’t fearful of things…..

    ABC is a Centrist station. Centrist is not Leftie. The ABC gave Gillard a hard time over union issues.. They give all Governments a hard time, and so they should…..

  3. As one with a long involvement with the ABC, I’m watching this latest plot in the ongoing soap opera with a sense of part resignation and part amusement. What’s particularly amusing is the ignorance of some people who are commenting. I’m not talking about your average Facebook user, but the likes of the leader if the Greens and the editor of the Sydney Morning Herald who have both attempted to connect Justin Milne with the ABC Charter – the SMH editorial even quoting a line that was not from the Charter while claiming it was. The Charter doe not make any reference to the Chairman, the Board or the MD – it’s not its purpose. Neither of these clowns bothered to check before opening their mouth/keyboard so they have demonstrated their ignorance for all to see. Time to sit back and crack open the popcorn I reckon, there’s gonna be more stupidity in the coming days.

  4. This really is opening up a can of political worms, the conservatives have always been critical of the political messaging from the ex political advisers working for the ABC, the 7.30 interview of Tony Abbott by Kerry O’Brien, well known for his past association with the ALP, started the decline for political interviews with the coalition and it has not really improved since. The right wing really only have Sky News as their soapbox, but the removal of Mr Abbott as PM changed all that, so ironically both the left and right were attacking the Turnbull government.

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