Outgoing ABC Chairman Jim Spigelman.15th March 2017.Photo: Steven Siewert Photo: Steven SiewertNBN board member and former Telstra executive Justin Milne is expected to be appointed the new chair of the ABC by the Turnbull government later this week.
Nanjing Night Net

Mr Milne will succeed former NSW chief justice James Spigelman in the prestigious role when his five-year term officially expires at the end of the month.

Mr Milne has been a long-time friend of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull since they worked together at internet service provider Ozemail in the 1990s.

The chair of the ABC is unusually the prerogative of the prime minister with input from the minister for communications.

Fairfax Media understands the appointment was approved by cabinet on Monday night, with an official announcement expected later this week.

The job comes with a pay packet of around $160,000 a year.

As well as OzeMail, Mr Milne served as chief executive of internet giants MSN and BigPond before Mr Turnbull appointed him to the NBN board in 2013.

He is also chair of accounting software group MYOB and NetComm Wireless, and also sits on the board of Tabcorp Holdings.

An ABC source said staff would be relieved the government had appointed someone with extensive experience in telecommunications and media rather than an “ideological warrior”.

A spokeswoman for Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said: “The Government has made no announcement about the next Chair of the ABC, but will do so in the near future.”

The appointment comes after an announcement by ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie to cut 200 jobs as part of a major restructure of the broadcaster.

Prominent lawyer Danny Gilbert, managing partner of law firm Gilbert + Tobin, was in the running to be appointed chairman, but was pipped by Mr Milne who has more media experience.

Mr Spigelman last week told Fairfax Media he was disappointed not to have been appointed to a second term.

“If I had been offered a second term I would have accepted,” says the former NSW chief justice and principal private secretary to Gough Whitlam.

“My predecessor wasn’t given a second term and wanted it; I haven’t been given a second term.”

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