Chairman of Australia's public broadcaster resigns over independence scandal

Chairman of Australia's public broadcaster resigns over independence scandal

Chairman of Australia's public broadcaster resigns over independence scandal

The chairman of the Australian Broadcasting Corp. resigned on Thursday over allegations that he pressured the independent national broadcaster to fire two political journalists because the ruling conservative government disliked them.

The fiasco started when Fairfax reported that it had received an email from the 8 of May in which Mr Milne told the ABC's then managing director, Michelle Guthrie, that the Coalition Government hates economic reporter Emma Alberici and that they need to "Get rid of her".

The news comes just four days after the shock termination of ABC Managing Director, Michele Guthrie, intensifying the company's leadership crisis.

The ABC board met on Thursday morning without Mr Milne, after which the board asked him to step aside.

Ms Wong said despite Mr Turnbull's claims, it appeared Mr Milne spoke with the former prime minister and a Liberal minister before seeking to have a journalist sacked.

"I would hope that media organisations in Australia take equally seriously questions of fact that are raised regardless of who raises them", he said.

While public trust in the media is at an all time low, according to a 2017 poll by Essential Research, the ABC remains far and away Australia's most trusted media brand. 'The bottom line is I've never called for anybody to be fired, ' Turnbull has said of the ABC scandal.

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

"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 Milne has described this week's events as a "firestorm", coupled with allegations he called for the termination of Emma Alberici and political editor Andrew Probyn.

"When there is an issue of editorial independence and accuracy it's appropriate for the chair to be involved - it's the chair's job", he told ABC TV.

ABC coverage is legislatively obliged to be independent and unbiased, but - for reasons either real of imagined - it is rarely perceived this way, particularly when top investigative programs expose stories which are inconvenient and embarrassing to those in public life.

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

Mr Milne said there was no political interference from the government in his decisions.

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

"The idea that the government has somehow got some list and is telling the ABC who should work there and who shouldn't - that's complete rubbish", Morrison told reporters.

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