One Nation leader, Pauline Hanson, has savaged the ABC’s outgoing managing director, Michelle Guthrie, saying she and the Board had “consistently failed” the public broadcaster’s “standards” and “they needed to go”.
Guthrie, of course, was spectacularly sacked last Monday, while the controversial Board member, Justin Milne, quit his post on Thursday.
Writing an opinion piece in today’s The Australian, Hanson said: “Michelle Guthrie and the board members of the ABC consistently failed the standards set out in section 8c. On that basis alone, they needed to go.
“Australia’s democracy needs informed citizens and that cannot happen when the personal political opinion of the ABC presenter is passed off as accurate and impartial news and information.” She then renewed her calls for the ABC and SBS to be merged.
Hanson has never been a fan of the ABC and has regularly called out the public broadcaster for apparent bias and has called for its budget to be slashed. Hanson refuses to give interviews to ABC journalists and has repeatedly demanded that the salaries of its on-air personalities be made public.
In her piece in today’s The Oz, Hanson said whoever replaced Guthrie as MD should be paid less than the prime minister. Guthrie was on an annual salary of close to $900,000, while the prime minister is paid closer to $500,000 a year.
“Australians are angry about excessive salaries and benefits being paid to the managing directors and board members of non-performing government-owned corporations and businesses such as the ABC,” Hanson writes.
She then took aim at apparent bias at the ABC: “The next task is to find board members committed to culling producers and presenters who cannot separate their own left-leaning political opinions from accurate and impartial news and information.”
Meanwhile, the prime minister Scott Morrison has used an interview on yesterday’s Insiders program to tell the ABC to put “a pretty ordinary” week behind it and “get back to work”.
“I think the ABC needs to stop talking about itself and get back to work,” Morrison said.
He added that he expected the ABC board under acting chairwoman Kirstin Ferguson to do better.
“Dr Ferguson needs to get on and settle the ship down to make sure they get back to doing what they should be doing in an independent and an unbiased way, to get the facts right, and to ensure they perform the duties the Australian people pay them to do,” he said.
“I expect the ABC board to do better. And if they don’t, well, they can expect a bit more attention from me.”
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