“Integrity… fairness…a great honesty…” -these are words cited in a Your ABC campaign.
Yesterday it was tough to reconcile them with a decision to remove the managing director with little explanation.
ABC Chairman Justin Milne is yet to fully explain the reasons Michelle Guthrie was spectacularly dumped by the public broadcaster yesterday.
A press release sent far and wide at 9:55am was particularly harsh in its tone, leaving the managing director little dignity after nearly 2.5 years of service.
“The decision follows discussions over several months that concluded when directors resolved that it was not in the best interests of the ABC for Ms Guthrie to continue to lead the organisation,” ABC said in a statement. Milne later added “we are very grateful for all her hard work.”
Some ABC staff chimed in with Four Corners executive producer Sally Neighbour tweeting “Excellent decision,” and radio host Jon Faine referring to her lack of public defence as an “astonishing fail.”
Justin Milne added little detail in a brief interview on ABC News, noting her “leadership style” was a factor.
“The board felt in the end that her leadership style was not the style that we needed going forward,” he said.
“We needed a different leadership style and that is the decision of the board.”
But he declined to detail what was wrong with her leadership or where she should have done better, even adding “I personally think Michelle has done a good job, and the board has been very happy with many, many of the things that she does.”
He also indicated ABC strategy would not change and bizarrely likened the MD appointment as “a bit of a lottery.”
So while the ABC has been running a sentimental Your ABC campaign, it shut down on the question everybody was asking yesterday: why?
In May ABC programming boss Rebecca Heap was replaced without explanation, the same day as Head of Entertainment Debbie Cuell departed.
Just weeks after a Prime Minister is dumped and ABC journalists question Liberal Party tactics, now the managing director from one of our top cultural organisations is suddenly shown the door.
Leigh Sales tweeted, “As is always the case on a big story, @abc730 has tried to land the key players tonight for interviews — in the case of the ABC today, Chairman Justin Milne and former MD Michelle Guthrie. Neither is available.”
Tony Martin joked: “Have you checked the entire building? They may have been relocated due to hot desking.”