Published: Sun, September 30, 2018
Worldwide | By Lisa Hogan

ABC Chairman Justin Milne Resigns

ABC Chairman Justin Milne Resigns

Mr Fifield dismissed suggestions his complaints carried significantly more weight given they came from the minister responsible for the ABC. "But that is why it's vital that it has high standards of journalism, that its reporting is accurate and impartial".

Australia Institute executive director Ben Oquist says the allegations have "shattered" trust in the ABC's independence and means it's time to change the broadcaster's governance processes.

In a text message exchange with ABC radio presenter Rafael Epstein, Mr Milne said "yes" when asked if he meant to remain in the role.

On ABC's 7.30 program, Mr Milne described the week's events as a "firestorm" and said he "wanted to provide a release valve".

Milne said his resignation was "absolutely, 100 per cent not" an admission that he had failed to safeguard the ABC's editorial independence.

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. 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. "Nobody ever told me to hire anybody, fire anybody, or anything else".

An email has shown Mr Milne asked Ms Guthrie - who was herself sacked on Monday - to fire Ms Alberici in May. Get rid of her. "We need to save the ABC - not Emma", Milne said, according to Fairfax. Milne was appointed by Turnbull and the pair are long-term friends. "The bottom line is I have never called for anybody to be fired", Mr Turnbull told reporters in NY.

The sacking led to an inquiry into Milne's actions and enormous public pressure, including from the broadcaster's employees, who are understood to have been considering industrial action had the chairman remained in his job.

Turnbull, who has been living in NY since being forced to resign as prime minister, said he had complained about the two journalists, but never asked for their dismissal, according to The Associated Press.

"The bottom line is I've never called for anybody to be fired".

Mr Turnbull says he did not ask for specific reporters to be axed.

The revelations sparked protests from the broadcaster's staff on Wednesday who called for Mr Milne's removal and for the organisation's editorial independence to be protected.

"I want to be very clear: I have not complained and do not complain about left-right bias", Turnbull said outside the United Nations New York headquarters.

Mr Turnbull also admitted he had some tricky conversations in NY when asked about why he was no longer prime minister.

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