Australian Broadcasting Corp chairman ousted amid political scandal

Justin Milne resigns from ABC chairman role

The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), one of the country's largest media organizations, is publicly funded by the government but meant to be politically independent and unbiased.

Justin Milne, chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), said he would resign after widespread anger from staff, labour unions and lawmakers.

Shortly after the dismissal of Guthrie, Milne's own position was called into question by the leaking of a series of emails that appeared to show Milne putting pressure on Guthrie to "get rid of" ABC financial journalist Emma Alberici.

The current crisis began with the unceremonious ouster earlier this week of ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie, reportedly pushed out by Mr Milne due to her poor relations with Canberra and a range of internal managerial missteps.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on his official social media the ABC's board and its chairman had made the "right call".

"They (the government) hate her", Milne said in an email to the known ousted Guthrie. "We need to save the ABC - not Emma", Milne said, according to Fairfax.

Beyond the reports suggesting that Milne wanted to fire both Alberici and Probyn, Fairfax has reported that Milne referred to Guthrie as "the missus" to staff, and spoke of women as "chicks" and "babes".

Mr Milne resigned after days of upheaval and damaging allegations he tried to have senior journalists sacked after complaints from former prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull.

Former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull also denied he'd asked Milne to pressure the board on editorial matters.

"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", he said.

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

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

When asked if Mr Milne could remain as chairman, former ABC managing director David Hill told ABC News Channel "sadly, I think not".

The ABC found nine errors in a news article by Alberici on the government's corporate tax policies, and significantly rewrote her analysis piece on the same topic.

"Their responsibilities as a director require them to devote extra time and attention should their company be facing problems - we have even seen some cases where they have stepped into the role of acting CEO", Ms Peres da Costa said. "My concern has been on the accuracy and impartiality of reporting".

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