Outgoing ABC Chairman Says Leaked Emails Need "Context"
Justin Milne has denied claims he called for journalists to be sacked but says his email about getting rid of one needs context.
Milne quit the ABC board on Thursday after a "firestorm" of allegations he demanded journalists be sacked because the government didn't like their stories.
While he denied this was the case, the former Chairman maintains he was entitled to intervene in editorial issues.
"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 on Thursday.
The relationship between the ABC and the government is difficult, Milne said, due to the fact the broadcaster is expected to remain impartial while receiving government funding.
"You can't go around irritating the person who is going to give you funding again and again and again if it's over matters of accuracy and impartiality," he said.
"What happened in that particular area was that we, the ABC, found that we were not accurate nor impartial."
The former Telstra executive was responding to questions about the alleged email he sent former managing director Michelle Guthrie-- who was herself sacked on Monday-- about chief economics correspondent Emma Alberici. Milne reportedly urged Guthrie to "get rid of" Alberici because the federal government "hates" her.
But Milne said the leaked information was taken out of context.
“It is a piece of an email, which was taken out of context of a conversation — which was a confidential conversation and a conversation you would expect should be had,” he said.
"What do we do about this? That's what it was. But I've never provided instructions that anybody should be sacked."
Milne is also said to have ordered Guthrie to sack political editor Andrew Probyn by telling her "you just have to shoot him", because then prime minister Malcolm Turnbull hated the journalist.
He has denied this claim as well.
"I have never sent an email to Michelle Guthrie or anybody else, which says you must sack Emma Alberici or Andrew Probyn or anybody else," Milne said.