Newsradio Interview with Steve Chase

Release Date: 
29 June 2015

Topics: Q&A Program E&OE…

Tony Abbott's Parliamentary Secretary, Alan Tudge, has withdrawn from tonight's program. He's the second MP to do so. Mr Tudge said it would be inappropriate for him to appear on the show while the Government's formal review of the decision is underway.

I think we should wait for the findings of that report and see what action is taken following that report before I participate on the panel.

So you are of the mind you might go back once you hear the outcome of this report?

I'd be open to going onto the show in the future.

But Q&A needs to be accountable for the decision which they made last week. This individual, who they put on their program, was an appalling individual. His comments in relation to the advocating of sexual violence against women alone should disqualify him for being on such a panel or for getting such a question at the ABC studios.

In addition this is a person who has been convicted and imprisoned for threatening to kill ASIO officers. Q&A made the decision to have him on the program, give him the microphone, live uninterrupted, and allowed him to have an unfettered audience of a million people listening to him.

I just think that was the wrong decision. They should be accountable for that and our review is getting into what happened, who knew what, when? And recommendations will be made following it.

Given that we don't know what the recommendations or the findings will be, one assumes that you have in mind a remedy or a punishment if there has been any wrong doing?

Well at the end of the day someone needs to be held accountable for the decision that was made.

It was an appalling decision. The ABC itself admits that it was an appalling decision. At the same time, no- one is taking full accountability for it, they've made a statement but then they repeated the program, then they put it onto the website, then they showed it into Asia. Then you had the Managing Director of the ABC say that there's a free speech basis for having this man being given a question on the ABC platform.

We're going to have a review which goes to why this person was invited onto the ABC, who knew what and when in relation to his background and no doubt we'll make some recommendations to the ABC in terms  of what it should do to prevent such a person being given a platform on Q&A again.

The Prime Minister's spoken at length for heads to roll over this. Is that your expectation if in fact something untoward has happened here?

At the end of the day someone needs to be held accountable. You can't apologise for having Zaky Mallah on the program but then repeat the program, then leave it on your internet platform, then put up a justification for having him on the program on the basis of free speech.

Mark Scott needs to take accountability for the decision. We've heard very little from him other than a partial justification for the decision. We've heard nothing from the board in relation to this.

I think the Prime Minister was saying, "you need to be accountable." Yes you are independent as a statutory authority, that's what the ABC is, quite rightly so. But that doesn't mean it shouldn't be accountable and that's what we're asking.

You sound very angry still, a week after the event with this. There has been a suggestion that the Minister for Social Services, Scott Morrison, that these matters, national security and other matters be discussed calmly. Is there a fear or is there a problem or potential for the rhetoric for national security to overtake this particular discussion we're having?

I am still deeply concerned about the decision which was made last week to put this man on. When you look at the record of Zaky Mallah, he has a very similar pattern to Man Monis, in terms of the attention he was seeking from the media, in terms of some of the extreme language he was using.

You have to understand that this was a person who was charged and imprisoned for threating to kill ASIO officers. When the police went to his house, they found a rifle, they found a hundred rounds of ammunition, and they found a manual next to that which was called something like "how I can be a good jihadist."

This is the type of character that we're talking about, and that's on top of his appalling public calling of senior journalists to be effectively pack raped.

That's why I'm still agitated in relation to this.

It was such an appalling decision made and the ABC needs to be accountable for it. We want our review to at least find out what the facts are, present the recommendations to the ABC and for them to take responsibility for the decision.

Alan Tudge thanks for your time this morning.

Thanks so much.