Michelle Guthrie has revealed she is “devastated” and would consider possible legal action after the chairman of the ABC board confirmed she had departed her role as managing director.
“I am devastated by the Board’s decision to terminate my employment despite no claim of wrongdoing on my part,” she said in a statement.
“When I joined ABC in 2016, I knew I had an enormous challenge in front of me to break down some of the internal barriers to progress as well as continuing to deliver quality programming for all Australians.
“As the first female Managing Director of the ABC, I felt a tremendous responsibility and unique privilege to lead Australia’s most important cultural institution.”
Chairman Justin Milne said fresh leadership would benefit the organisation in the long term.
“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,” Mr Milne said in a statement.
“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.”
In an interview with the ABC he declined to comment on why Ms Guthrie was sacked, saying the broadcaster needed a different “leadership style”.
He also said the ABC’s relationship with the federal government “could have been better” under Ms Guthrie.
Ms Guthrie said she was considering her legal options after her contract was terminated.
“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.”
Earlier, The Australian claimed there had been months of tension between the two, including clashes over projects and how to deal with the government.
Monday’s decision was apparently welcomed by some members of the ABC with 4 Corners executive producer Sally Neighbour, who tweeted “excellent decision” after the news broke.
The board thanked Ms Guthrie for her dedication since taking over the position in May 2016.
David Anderson, a 30-year veteran of the broadcaster, will be acting managing director while a formal search process involving internal and external candidates begins.
Minister for Communications and the Arts Mitch Fifield thanked Ms Guthrie on behalf of the government.
“The Government thanks Michelle Guthrie and acknowledges her service as Managing Director of the ABC for the past two and a half years in what is a challenging and rapidly changing media environment,” he said in a statement.
“ABC Managing Directors are appointed by the Board. The ABC Board has legislated independence in relation to management appointments and the Government respects the duty and role of the Board in these matters.”