Michelle Guthrie’s interim replacement is unable to say why her “dynamic” leadership style was wrong for the ABC board or why she was sacked as managing director.
Acting managing director David Anderson, a 30-year ABC veteran, has given his first interview since Ms Guthrie’s shock ousting on Monday.
“Michelle’s leadership style was dynamic. Michelle challenged us in a lot of ways to be better, challenged us to free up more money for content and went about that over the last two-and-a-half years,” Mr Anderson told the ABC on Tuesday.
However, he was not privy to the board’s deliberations.
“I can’t tell you why [her leadership style] was wrong for the ABC board and why the ABC board made the decision that they made,” he said.
Justifying the decision, board chairman Justin Milne said her relationship with the government could have been better, and she was not the right leader for the ABC.
“The board felt in the end that her leadership style was not the style that we needed going forward. We needed a different leadership style,” Mr Milne told the ABC.
Ms Guthrie is considering her legal options.
“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 on Monday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said he expects the ABC board to follow its protocols and processes for employing leaders.
“No-one has advised me, that hasn’t occurred through the minister,” he told reporters in Sydney on Tuesday.
They’ve taken that decision and I look forward to them getting on with the job of recruiting and recommending a new managing director.”
Deputy Nationals leader Bridget McKenzie said she hopes Ms Guthrie’s replacement focuses on rural and regional Australia.
“We have seen the guts ripped out of our service provision, not just under Ms Guthrie,” she told Sky News.
Labor communications spokeswoman Michelle Rowland said the sacking took her “completely by surprise”, and Australians will be curious as to what transpired at the broadcaster.
“I think there will be opportunities for that coming up at Senate estimates in the near future,” Ms Rowland told ABC Radio on Tuesday.
Various reports said the relationship between Ms Guthrie and Mr Milne had broken down in recent times. Her contract contained a clause allowing the board to sack her at any time.
The first woman to run the ABC and a former Google and News Corp executive, Ms Guthrie was appointed in May 2016 to drive digital transformation.
ABC journalists and the media union have been critical of Ms Guthrie’s leadership, and have expressed hope the next director will be an advocate for the broadcaster.