2GB Sydney Interview With Chris Smith

Release Date: 
29 June 2015
Transcript
E&OE

CHRIS SMITH:
Mr Tudge, good morning.

ALAN TUDGE:
Good morning Chris.

CHRIS SMITH:
Thank you very much for your time. So why have you decided to pull the pin on tonight's appearance?

ALAN TUDGE:
As you've just been explaining, last week the ABC gave a platform to a man who is a criminal, a terrorist sympathiser, and who has advocated for sexual violence against women.

It was an absolutely appalling decision and the Government has instigated a formal review into it. I've decided that it would not be appropriate for me to participate while that review is underway.

CHRIS SMITH:
Did you contact them directly? Did you send a note to them and did they come back and get you to try and go through with your appearance?

ALAN TUDGE:
No, I called them yesterday, I spoke to the producer and just explained that I won't be appearing and I gave him the explanation why.

CHRIS SMITH:
Does that mean you'll never go on the program again?

ALAN TUDGE:
No it doesn't but at this stage they need to take responsibility for the decision. We've got a review underway, there'll be no doubt some recommendations from that review and we want to see them take responsibility and be accountable for that atrocious decision last week.

CHRIS SMITH:
Given his criminal background, his extreme views, his views on women, which we've both enunciated, it's unfathomable that he should've been on the program and I guess it wouldn't be hard either though to find someone that they could have got in the audience to disagree with the dual-citizenship laws that are about to be introduced into Parliament. So why was he in particular allowed to go on the program do you think?

ALAN TUDGE:
Well that's exactly the question for the Q&A producers because you are right, there is a legitimate debate that we could have in relation to some of the laws that we put into the Parliament and what impact they will have.

But if you want to have that debate then get somebody credible to put up a countervailing view. This person is perhaps the least credible person in Australia to put up a countervailing view.

And let me give a couple of details for your listeners in relation to what he has done on the criminal
side. He's an individual who has been charged and convicted of threatening to kill ASIO officers. When the police went to his apartment they found an illegally acquired rifle, they found a hundred rounds of ammunition, and they found a manual or the like saying "how I can train to be a jihadist."

This is the type of character that we're talking about here. That's on top of his public call for two very senior female journalists to effectively be pack raped publicly.

He is the last person in the world that should be given a platform on the ABC- the last person.

CHRIS SMITH:
And some similarities as you say between he and Man Haron Monis.

ALAN TUDGE:
Well I think that's right. Man Monis when you look at the pattern of Man Monis, he was also attention seeking, he'd also had many extreme views beforehand, and you do see some similarities.

At some stage we have to take these guys at their word. If they have acquired weapons, acquired ammunition and they are saying they want to commit violent acts then surely we have to take them at their word. That's what our message was in relation to the Q&A guys.

That's what Zaky Mallah had been saying and yet they still invited him to have a live question, they actually paid for the transport for him to get to the studios. Then having run the program and being criticised for the program they then repeated the program the following day…

CHRIS SMITH:
And might I say they also put it on their Asian television service and it was on the website so you could download.

ALAN TUDGE:
That's exactly right. And yes they made a statement of regret the day afterwards, but then they did all these other things. Then Mark Scott, the Managing Director comes out on Thursday night and says "oh no this actually about free speech."

CHRIS SMITH:
It's got nothing to do with free speech.

ALAN TUDGE:
It's got nothing to do with free speech.

CHRIS SMITH:
It's about who you get up and whether they have the right, given their criminal background and given their danger to the public, whether they have the right to be given a free, live interaction with a million people on the national broadcaster.

ALAN TUDGE:
That is exactly right.

Free speech means you can say what you like without being sued or charged. That does not mean you have to give an individual a taxpayer funded megaphone with a million people listening in.

CHRIS SMITH:
Well we know about what he said about Rita and Miranda being gang banged etc. etc. because the fact he claims they are Islamophobes, and what they do is all for ratings, they're both idiots. If that's not enough he followed up with gang raped. I don't know.

ALAN TUDGE:
I mean how does this person get onto the program? Those comments alone should disqualify this individual from ever being on a program like that and be given the platform, not even to be brought on to be held to account, but to be brought onto the program to be given the microphone and freely say what he likes. That's exactly what happened.

CHRIS SMITH:
It leaves you speechless when you think about who this bloke is and the fact they would say, let's get him on the program, it's just extraordinary, so premeditated and so wrong.

The Government is reviewing what happened, that report is due out as early as tomorrow as I understand. What in your view needs to happen from here?

ALAN TUDGE:
The review is aimed at finding out exactly what happened that led to Zaky Mallah getting the platform on Q&A. Who knew what, and when, what was the decision making process? It will be a fact finding mission, it may contain recommendations.

CHRIS SMITH:
Before you talk about recommendations, will it also focus on the fact that this program was available in three different formats after it ran and after the apology was made?

ALAN TUDGE:
I believe that it will go into how those decisions were made also. Then from that we in fact have very little power over the ABC, they're a statutory authority, however we can make recommendations to them. But it's actually up to the board and the Managing Director to implement those recommendations and we hope they will.

CHRIS SMITH:
So if heads roll, as the Prime Minister said he wanted to see, it's got to be initiated from within the ABC does it?

ALAN TUDGE:
Absolutely.

CHRIS SMITH:
Well good luck, don't hold your breath, you'll go blue.

ALAN TUDGE:We have very little control over the ABC, they're set up as a completely independent entity, as they should be an independent entity.

CHRIS SMITH:
The untouchables!

ALAN TUDGE:
But being independent doesn't mean you shouldn't be accountable.

CHRIS SMITH:
They shouldn't be independent of what the public believe in and if nothing is going to happen because of what's just gone on, I think the public in the majority would be rightfully upset at the outcome.

ALAN TUDGE:
I think that's probably right Chris. I think the public want to see an element of accountability for that decision. At the moment we have not seen Mark Scott take that accountability and there has been absolute silence from the board.

CHRIS SMITH:
Alan Tudge, thank you very much for your time.

ALAN TUDGE:
Thanks so much Chris.

[ENDS]