Justin Milne resigns as ABC chairman after crisis board meeting

Justin Milne resigns as ABC chairman after crisis board meeting

Justin Milne resigns as ABC chairman after crisis board meeting

Media reports alleged this week that ABC chairman Justin Milne had unsuccessfully pressured ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie to fire two senior reporters to prevent potential cuts in government funding.

Earlier this week hundreds of ABC staff voiced their support for Milne's resignation, a year and a half into his tenure.

Communications minister Mitch Fifield has asked his department to launch an official investigation into the intrusion of the government in the editorial operations of the ABC.

News Corp., citing ABC board documents, reported Milne told Guthrie in a June 15 telephone conversation that Turnbull "hates" Probyn and: "You have to shoot him".

"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", the union said in a statement.

While Australia slept, Mr Turnbull was interviewed in NY, where he denied pressuring Mr Milne to sack reporters at the national broadcaster.

With the conservative Liberal-National coalition government in power in Canberra since 2014, many in the government and their supporters believe that the ABC's agenda is to subvert and embarrass the government and campaign for its electoral defeat.

"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 motion comes as political pressure mounts on Mr Milne to explain the Alberici email. A series of leaked emails appeared to show Milne pressurising Guthrie to "get rid of" ABC's chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici.

ABC board chairman Justin Milne. "There is no guarantee they [the coalition] will lose the next election", he reportedly wrote.

Ms Guthrie, a former Google executive, said she was "devastated" by her sacking and would consider taking legal action. 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.

After that the board held a meeting with Mr Milne to discuss his future.

"It's clearly not a good thing for everyone to be trying to do their job with this kind of firestorm going on so I wanted to provide a release valve", he said.

Despite there being a range of opinions on Ms Guthrie's tenure, her ousting had come as a surprise.

Mr Milne, who resigned on Thursday, is also the chairman of two ASX-listed companies - accounting software giant MYOB and communications technology business NetComm Wireless.

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