Just like a stain. Removed.
|The Australian Press Council has removed Carla McGrath as a public member because her position as Deputy Chair of GetUp! is incompatible with her continued role as a public member of the Council.
|At its meeting in May, the Australian Press Council resolved that Ms McGrath’s position at GetUp! created an ongoing and irreconcilable conflict of interest with her role on the Press Council. As Ms McGrath chose not to resign either from the Press Council or as an officer of GetUp!, the Council further resolved to take steps in accordance with its Constitution to remove her as a public member.
|This action was concluded today at a General Meeting of the Press Council.
|“I believe this is the best outcome in a very difficult situation,” said Chair Neville Stevens. “Carla McGrath, as a respected member of Australia’s Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community, would have brought an important perspective to the work of the Council. While the Council is committed to increasing diversity among its members, there is an overriding need for it to be independent and to be seen to be independent.”
|Under the Press Council’s Constitution, any resolution to remove a public member before the expiration of their term must be passed by at least 75 per cent of members present at such a meeting. Details of the actual vote numbers, or how individual members voted, are never made public.
|For more information, contact Michael Rose, the Press Council's Director of Research and Communications, on 0451 978 276 or by email: [email protected].
Today's announcement is largely due to News Corp's principled stance on the issue.
Here's The Australian's editor in chief Paul Whittaker.
The Australian’s editor-in-chief, Paul Whittaker welcomed the Press Council’s “belated decision’’ to remove Ms McGrath but said it was “beyond belief’’ that she had been appointed in the first place.
“The chairman and the Council have taken the only sensible course of action they could have to restore the Council’s credibility as it is ridiculous that the deputy chair of GetUp was ever appointed in the first place,’’ Whittaker said.
“How anyone, including current members of the Council, could have thought that appointing a leader of a strident left-wing political activist organisation to an independent press watchdog would be acceptable is beyond belief.’’
Her removal, which is believed to have immediate effect, puts an end to more than a year of turmoil that began on May 25 last year when a majority of Press Council members endorsed her nomination by former chairman David Weisbrot as a “public” member.
The backlash, which began soon after her appointment became public, led to a boycott by The Australian of Press Council investigations and adjudications involving Ms McGrath. Newspapers in every state later joined the boycott.
This led to the early resignation of Professor Weisbrot who was succeeded last year by Neville Stevens, a former senior public servant.
In his letter of resignation, Professor Weisbrot said his reason for leaving was “persistent personal attacks” and a campaign of “misinformation” over Ms McGrath’s appointment.
Earlier this year, Whittaker expressed disappointment at Ms McGrath’s appointment.
At the time Whittaker had said: “GetUp is effectively another wing of the Labor Party and the Greens.
“GetUp’s deputy chair Ms McGrath will be sitting in judgment at the Press Council on complaints over contentious newspaper stories about important matters in the public interest such as mining, climate change, immigration and asylum-seekers — all issues of which the organisation she represents has aggressively campaigned on from a Green-left position.
“The Australian will not accept any adjudication finding that the GetUp deputy chair has participated in, as we have a reasonable apprehension of bias given the organisation’s strident political activism, including its campaigns against News Corp publications.”