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ABC drops Milne over controversial column

News Limited columnist Glenn Milne has lost his spot as a pannelist on the ABC's Insiders.

News Limited columnist Glenn Milne has lost his spot as a pannelist on the ABC's Insiders.

NEWS Limited columnist Glenn Milne has been ejected from his spot on the panel of the ABC politics program Insiders after his column last week questioning Julia Gillard's past.

ABC News head of policy Alan Sunderland confirmed yesterday that Milne had been told on Thursday night that ''we wouldn't use him this week and we probably won't be using him again''.

Milne (pictured) said he had contributed to the program for more than 10 years on and off, and he ''regretted'' the decision to axe him ''over something that does not justify it''. Milne sparked a political storm last week after publishing a column in The Australian last Monday which said Ms Gillard was ''implicated albeit unknowingly in a major union fraud'' before she had entered Parliament.

The column was quickly withdrawn after Ms Gillard complained. The Australian apologised to Ms Gillard and acknowledged the allegations were ''untrue''. Milne defended the column yesterday, saying he did not regret writing it.

''I think you've got to have a go at these things and we're in the political domain here. This is a public figure issue, and I believe the story will come out in some form or another, and I think I'll be vindicated in the end,'' he told The Sunday Age. But Insiders host Barrie Cassidy said Milne represented too much of a risk. ''He wrote that in a considered newspaper article ? We are live and spontaneous, and that represents an even greater risk for us.''

Mr Sunderland rejected any suggestion that Ms Gillard or anyone else had pressured the ABC to remove Milne. ''The issue this week played a part, but there were also other issues in the past that I don't want to go into,'' Mr Sunderland said. Milne became infamous in 2006 when he stormed the stage at the journalists' award night, the Walkleys, and assaulted presenter Stephen Mayne.

Conservative blogger Andrew Bolt accused the ABC of a ''sinister and shameful'' act to shut down debate.


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