Justin Milne resists calls to quit, Malcolm Turnbull denies telling chairman to sack Emma Alberici

“The bottom line is I’ve never called for anyone to be fired.”

ABC chairman Justin Milne has vowed to remain in his role despite calls from commentators and ABC staff for him to step down.

The calls came after a report from Fairfax Media published on September 26 revealing Milne had asked former ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie to sack journalist Emma Alberici in an email sent on May 8. He cited government complaints as a reason for this. Milne is a longtime friend of former Australian prime minister Malcolm Turnbull.

Speaking to reporters from the United Nations headquarters, Turnbull denied reports that he’d asked for the sacking of Alberici. However, he did say he’d raised concerns about the ABC’s editorial standards declining.

“The bottom line is I’ve never called for anyone to be fired. My concern had been the accuracy and impartiality of reporting,” Turnbull said.

In light of the accusations against Milne and sacking of Guthrie on September 24, communications minister Mitch Fifield has called on his department to conduct an investigation into the matter. He published a statement yesterday that in part read: “Having met with the Prime Minister this afternoon, I have asked the Secretary of the Department of Communications and the Arts to undertake an inquiry to establish the facts in relation to today’s media reports surrounding the ABC.”

Following the revelation of Milne’s email about Alberici, News Corp is today reporting that the ABC chairman also called for the dismissal of political editor Andrew Probyn.

Since the sacking of Guthrie on Monday, the ABC has been dominating the headlines and social media conversations. Many former ABC employees and board members have weighed in on the developing events. Hundred of people, many of them ABC employees, protested yesterday outside the ABC head office in Ultimo, Sydney for Milne to quit as the organisation’s chairman.

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