Michelle Guthrie Dumped As ABC Boss
Michelle Guthrie is "devastated" by her dumping as ABC managing director, and is considering legal action.
In a statement on Monday morning, the ABC announced Guthrie had left the position, effective immediately, claiming it "was not in the best of the interests" of the broadcaster for her to finish her term.
"The decision follows discussions over several months that concluded when directors resolved that it was not in the best interests of the ABC for Ms Guthrie to continue to lead the organisation," the statement said.
In her own statement later on Monday, Guthrie said she was upset at the 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. I am considering my legal options," she said.
Guthrie was appointed to a five-year term as managing director in December 2015, the first woman to hold the role in the broadcaster's history. Just halfway through her term, ABC chairman Justin Milne said the broadcaster's board wanted "new leadership"
“In resolving to seek fresh leadership, the Board’s foremost consideration was the long-term interests of our own people and the millions of Australians who engage with ABC content every week,” Milne said.
“This decision has been driven by our commitment to deliver the best possible outcomes for our loyal audiences and the best possible experience for our own people.
"The board wishes to thank Michelle for her contribution to the ABC. We are very grateful for all her hard work."
In a later interview on ABC News, Milne said the board had been "looking at the question of Michelle's ongoing employment for the last couple of months". He added the directors felt the ABC "would do better under different leadership" but that she had "done a good job".
"It doesn't always work out. Sometimes it takes a while for it not to work out. So, in this case the board decided that it wasn't working out and decided that we should do a reset and that is what we have decided to do," he said.
David Anderson, the ABC's director of entertainment and specialist divisions, will act as managing director while a search commences for a new permanent boss.
In an internal email to staff, the ABC said the board had given "long and detailed consideration to this serious matter."
"We appreciate that a change in leadership creates uncertainty, however, we are firmly of the view that this decision is in the best interests of the organisation."
The ABC managing director is appointed by the broadcaster's board, independent of government.
"By law, Managing Directors are selected by the ABC Board independently of the Government and Opposition of the day," the ABC noted in its statement.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison resisted commenting specifically on the news, saying the decision was for the board to make.
Guthrie has been a divisive figure during her tenure as ABC boss. She has copped criticism for her employment history with News Corp and a perception she did not defend the ABC enough from opponents of the public broadcaster; and also came under fire for repeated controversial on-air episodes which upset members of the conservative Coalition government.
ABC staff quickly reacted to news of her departure. Ten daily understands immediate reactions inside ABC's Sydney headquarters was mixed.
More to come.