Michelle Guthrie Considering Legal Action After Shock Axing From Top ABC Job

Rosalie Gross
September 25, 2018

She was given the benefit of the doubt, Faine said, and "most of us were excited ... that a woman clearly on top of new media" was taking the helm.

She is considering legal action after being kicked out of the job two-and-a-half years into her five-year term. "This is entirely a board decision".

"We appreciate that a change in leadership creates uncertainty, however, we are firmly of the view that this decisions is in the best interest of the organisation", he said.

The board is appointed by the federal government, with Milne, who is also chairman of MYOB and a former NBNCo director, chosen for the role by his friend and former PM Malcolm Turnbull a year ago.

Michelle Guthrie has been a controversial figure at the ABC as she managed tighter budgets along with leading expansion into new business areas.

Despite offering praise for some of Ms Guthrie's work, Mr Milne said her "leadership style" was a factor in the board's decision.

"While my contract permits the board to terminate my appointment without cause and with immediate effect, I believe there is no justification for the board to trigger that termination clause".

And she rejected Communications Minister Mitch Fifield's suggestion that the ABC could easily accommodate the latest 1 per cent efficiency divided required by the government.

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Senior journalist Sally Neighbour, executive producer of 4 Corners, tweeted: "Excellent decision".

Board chairman Justin Milne said the transition to a new leader could be disruptive but discussions had been under way for several months.

She made it clear she wanted to continue to oversee the ABC's transformation.

"At no point have any issues been raised with me about the transformation being undertaken, the "Investing in Audiences" strategy and my effectiveness in delivering against this strategy".

Morrison said it wasn't his place to comment on the efficacy of Guthrie as managing director, again pointing to the board as the folks in charge of that call.

David Anderson, a 30-year ABC veteran, will be acting managing director while a formal search process involving internal and external candidates begins. We'll update this story when we know more.

In a statement on Monday morning, the ABC announced Guthrie had left the position, effective immediately.

He said it was an honour to lead the corporation.

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