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McGrath refuses Press Council resignation order

GetUp! deputy chair Carla McGrath has refused to resign from the Australian Press Council after the body ruled her joint roles were “incompatible” with council’s impartiality standards, forcing the council to dismiss her.

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The Press Council’s asked all public members to declare their potential conflicts of interest at its quarterly meeting on Friday, in line with new council policy under chairman Neville Stevens.

As a result, Ms McGrath was asked to resign but has not done so, deeming it an “unnecessary” action, despite the finding of the council on the conflict caused by her senior role with the left-wing activist group.

The Press Council will now go through the formal process to remove her in accordance to the constitution at the next formal meeting in August.

“Public members need to not only reflect the community, they must also be independent and be seen as independent,” Mr Stevens said. “The council noted that GetUp! has taken a public position on a range of issues and takes action on these, including raising funds for and actively campaigning against some sitting politicians.

“The council considered that the nature and extent of these activities result in a conflict between Carla McGrath’s interest as deputy chair of GetUp! and her duties as a public member of the council which is irreconcilable and likely to continue. This will inevitably give rise to the perception of a lack of independence of the council itself.”

Ms McGrath did not respond to a NewsMediaWorks request for comment.

No other sitting public members were affected.

Ms McGrath was appointed to the Press Council in June 2017. The appointment drew swift criticism from the council’s publisher members, with News Corp Australia national and metro mastheads refusing to accept any adjudication of which Ms McGrath had a role.

The furore over her appointment ultimately led to the resignation of previous chairman Professor David Weisbrot.

During her time on the council, Ms McGrath did not partake in an adjudication.

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