The departure of journalist Emma Alberici from the national broadcaster is the latest example of the ABC being unable or unwilling to push back against hostile governments.
A Senate inquiry report has found that while the broadcaster’s board was aware of the deteriorating relationship between the chair and managing director, it did not make any further inquiries.
The national broadcaster has had a tumultuous history, targeted by both major parties at various times. No matter who takes office after the 2019 election, the ABC can never rest easy.
Mrdak, who interviewed both Milne and Guthrie, said they had no doubt the government was “very concerned at the issues of opinion and accuracy and editorial standards raised” in the several pieces.
After a dramatic week at the ABC that sees them without a permanent managing director nor a chair, there remain serious questions about government interference and the broadcaster’s independence.
The ABC chairman’s resignation provides some resolution to the crisis, but a discussion is sorely needed about other threats to the broadcaster’s independence.
According to the report, Milne had said that if Guthrie didn’t fire Probyn, she would be jeopardising half a billion dollars in funding for the proposed Jetstream infrastructure project.
The ABC Act clearly states the board is duty-bound to ‘maintain the independence and integrity’ of the broadcaster. Milne’s actions appear to have compromised both values.
The ABC affair – which began with the sacking of Guthrie - spun out of control on Wednesday, following the leaking to Fairfax Media of a highly damaging email, showing Milne’s editorial interference.
In a blunt statement, the ABC board has announced the end of Guthrie’s tenure as managing director, declaring it was “not in the best interests” of the organisation for her to continue leading it.