Warren Mundine quits SBS board, stating his other roles meant he could not ‘provide the time’

Exclusive: Labor had last year asked Coalition to consider removing Mundine from broadcaster over controversial social media posts

Failed Liberal candidate Warren Mundine has resigned from the SBS board two years into a five-year term during which he was admonished by the multicultural broadcaster for social media comments “not in line with the values of SBS”.

SBS confirmed Mundine had resigned early, citing his other business and personal commitments.

“Warren Mundine has been a valued member of the SBS board since joining in October 2020,” the SBS chair, George Savvides, said on Thursday.

“We understand the reasons for his decision, in that he has significant other business and personal commitments, and on behalf of the SBS board and the organisation I thank him for his service.”

Mundine told Guardian Australia: “It became apparent that as my businesses were growing I couldn’t provide the time that a director needed to commit to for SBS.”

The communications minister, Michelle Rowland, when in opposition called on the Coalition to consider removing Mundine from the board after he made a series of controversial comments including calling journalist Ben Eltham a “cunt” on Twitter.

Mundine was not recommended as a director by the independent nominations panel but rather was handpicked by the Morrison government.

After he was appointed in October 2020, Mundine called the Canadian prime minister, Justin Trudeau, “a complete asshole”, a “fool” and a “complete f**kwit” on social media.

The SBS board asked Mundine to delete the tweet and said it was in breach of the board’s code of conduct and did not align with the broadcaster’s values.

An SBS spokesperson said last year: “The comment made by Mr Mundine is not in line with the values of SBS, does not adhere to our policies, and is not consistent with the expectations which apply to our staff or those we work with.”

“The SBS board are expected to behave in accordance with the SBS code of conduct and Mr Mundine has been reminded of his obligations as an SBS board member, and has since deleted the tweet.”

Twelve months ago, Rowland wrote to then communications minister, Paul Fletcher, to ask why Mundine should not be removed by the governor general for misbehaviour under the SBS Act.

“Please confirm whether you, as the responsible minister, are satisfied that the performance of Mr Mundine meets the high standards expected of SBS board members,” Rowland said.

“Specifically I refer to conduct by Mr Mundine on Twitter that may bring SBS into disrepute and seek your explanation as to why he shouldn’t be removed by the governor general for misbehaviour in accordance with … the SBS Act. It is a duty of the SBS board to maintain the independence and integrity of the SBS.”

Rowland on Thursday said the SBS chair had advised her of Mundine’s intention to step down from the board. “The minister thanks Mr Mundine for his service,” a spokesperson said.

The minister has promised to “revisit” the makeup of the SBS and ABC board nominations panel to ensure the integrity of the process of appointments.

Mundine stood unsuccessfully for the marginal Coalition seat of Gilmore in 2019 after he was hand-picked by Scott Morrison.

He was previously the national president of the Australian Labor Party but quit the ALP in 2012.


Amanda Meade

The GuardianTramp

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