Justin Milne Resigns As ABC Chairman

Justin Milne has resigned as ABC chairman following a week of turmoil within the public broadcaster.

ABC directors met in a crisis meeting on Thursday without Mr Milne concerning the biggest management emergency in the organisation resulting in a request to step aside while a government investigation took place, prompting him to step down.

The board announced that Mr Milne had completely quit the position to end the turmoil within the ABC during the week, following emails from Mr Milne calling for journalists to be sacked.

The board was to meet at noon to elect an acting chairman.

Mr Milne’s resignation came following days of controversy over political interference precipitated by the sacking of managing director Michelle Guthrie on Monday.

During an interview on ABC’s 730 program that will air on the ABC on Thursday night, Mr Milne described the controversy as a “firestorm”.

He said he “wanted to provide a release valve”.

However, he denied that he failed to protect the ABC’s editorial independence or that he was “absolutely 100 per cent not” under political pressure.

“I feel that the interests of the ABC have always been upmost in my mind and just to get it on the record for you, there was absolutely no interference in the independence of the ABC by the government,” Mr Milne said.

He added he suggested resignation to the board to consider the ABC’s interests.

“I said, ‘Well, I think actually I should resign’ because there is clearly a lot of pressure on the organisation,” he said.

“As always, my interests, my aim, has been to look after the interests of the Corporation.”

“It’s clearly not a good thing for everyone to be trying to do their job with this firestorm going on.”

Ms Guthrie’s sacking was followed by a series of leaked emails to Ms Guthrie to fire reporters Emma Alberici and Andrew Probyn.

He allegedly directed the then managing director to sack Ms Alberici because the government “hates” her.

Mr Milne also ordered Mr Probyn, the ABC’s political editor to be fired because of former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s views.

However, Mr Turnbull denied asking for any journalists to be fired, only stating that he complained about errors in ABC stories and the deterioration of the quality of its reporting.

Board members were made aware of Mr Milne’s directions to Ms Guthrie in a document before she was asked to resign on September 13.

The Morrison government has ordered the communications department to investigation allegations against Mr Milne.

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield had declined earlier on Thursday to support Mr Milne continuing as ABC chairman.

 

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