Sky News, to the Point Interview with Kristina Keneally & Peter Van Onselen

Release Date: 
29 June 2015
Transcript

PETER VAN ONSELEN:
Alan Tudge thanks for joining us.  Are you worried that their ratings are just going to collapse because of that decision?

ALAN TUDGE:
G'day Peter, hi Kristina, listen I've made the decision because we have the review underway and I didn't think it would be appropriate for a Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister to be participating on the panel while that review is underway.

I think the decision last week of the ABC to have Zaky Mallah on the program was an atrocious decision.  The guy is a convicted criminal, he's a terrorist sympathiser, and he's publicly advocated for sexual violence against women.

He is not a person who should be given a platform, and consequently we've got a review underway.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:
What about the platform though that Channel Nine have given him on their website also including a YouTube video of his response to the whole kerfuffle he's caused.  Do you condemn Channel Nine for doing
that? Should they just not give the guy air time?

ALAN TUDGE:
I would not be giving this guy one second of air time if I had my way.  It's interesting when you look at the Supreme Court judge's decision, when he convicted Zaky Mallah to two years imprisonment, he actually made a comment in relation to the media exposure and said that we should not be providing media exposure for people like him because it just encourages more outrageous behaviour.

We should not be giving this guy a platform at all, but particularly with the taxpayer funded ABC who we should be holding up higher standards than any other channel because they are taxpayer funded, and because they have statutory obligations to be fair, to be accurate, and to be impartial.

KRISTINA KENEALLY:
Alan can I just get to the heart of your decision to refuse to go on tonight, you've cited a number of your concerns about Zaky Mallah and his views, but is it really at the heart of it because of the Government review that you're not going on the program tonight?  If the Government wasn't conducting a review would you still go on and use that platform to put forward your point of view?

ALAN TUDGE:
That's a hypothetical.  We've got a review underway because of the absolute egregious nature of the decision that was made.

As you know Kristina, this is a guy who had tweeted out earlier in the year that two very prominent female journalists should be effectively pack raped publicly.

This a person who should not be given any platform at all anywhere, let alone on one of the highest rating ABC programs. It was a very poor decision by the ABC, they apologised, then they re-showed the
program. Then the ABC Managing Director came out and said, actually there's a justification for having him
on the program.

They need to take responsibility. Our review is to get to the facts. There'll be recommendations made.  But at the end of the day, the Managing Director needs to take responsibility.

KRISTINA KENEALLY:
I want to go to the point of misogyny because you are right, the tweets that he had about some high profile women were absolutely appalling and should be condemned, and the person who made those comments should be condemned. But where do you draw the line on misogyny? I mean is it OK for example to go to a rally where there's signs calling our sitting Prime Minister a bitch and a witch?  Is that alright?

ALAN TUDGE:
Kristina, this is individual…

PETER VAN ONSELEN:
And you were there Alan Tudge, I remember seeing the footage more recently.

ALAN TUDGE:
But as you know Peter, we had no idea that those signs were behind us, and they weren't when we first went up on stage.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:
Do you have such a lack of peripheral vision seriously Alan Tudge that you had no idea that they were there? Seriously?

ALAN TUDGE:
I can honestly say that we had no idea. I would not have gone up on that stage had I known there were signs behind me.

But let me say this: this is a very different situation to asking a person onto Q&A who had actively called for two prominent women to be effectively raped in a public space.  Under no circumstances should such an individual be given a platform like he was on Q&A.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:
Can I just jump in here Alan Tudge for one moment, just to you Kristina for a moment.  I actually agree with Alan Tudge about that.  Fair point to raise the question, I'm not being critical of that, the other one would be Alan Jones with the whole chaff bag incident.  He of course is a colleague of ours on Sky News now as well.

But they are very different. They're deplorable, but they are nothing like what Alan Tudge is talking about here in terms of the tweeting from this person who has been in jail for threatening to kill someone.  Seriously.

KRISTINA KENEALLY:
Clearly I don't think we need to get in to the degrees of equivocation but I'm not sure that we should deny Zaky Mallah a position solely on the basis of misogynist tweets.  I think there's a range of concerns around this issue.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:
But there is a level of violence included in what his tweets as opposed to just disgustingness if I could put it as a distinction.

KRISTINA KENEALLY:
Why don't we get back to the guest?

PETER VAN ONSELEN:
We'll do that. Sorry about that Alan Tudge.

ALAN TUDGE:
Kristina, are you seriously suggesting that you would have him on your panel and be interviewing him?

KRISTINA KENEALLY:
No, no, no, no, I'm not suggesting that, Alan.

ALAN TUDGE:
Would you invite him on your panel and give him a platform?

KRISTINA KENEALLY:
Alan, it's one of the questions I want to ask you, but I wouldn't do that for a range of reasons. I just find it interesting that you were raising the concern about misogyny and attacks on women when we saw one of the most vile attacks on a female politician, coffins bearing her name, calling her a witch and a bitch, threatening to throw her out to sea in a chaff bag.

ALAN TUDGE:
And none of those were acceptable.

KRISTINA KENEALLY:
The debate about misogyny is a legitimate one to have in this country about the levels that exist.

ALAN TUDGE:
But none of those were acceptable Kristina. None of those things were acceptable which were done. This guy has gone to an absolutely extreme level, absolutely extreme level Kristina, in calling for the public rape of two journalists. That's what he did and that is on top of his conviction which he already has.

He's been convicted for threatening to kill ASIO officials. When the police went to his home Kristina, they found an illegally acquired rifle, they found 100 rounds of ammunition, and alongside that was a manual which was called something along the lines of 'How to prepare for Jihad'.

This guy is not a great guy. When people like him say they want to commit a violent offence you have to take these people at their word.

KRISTINA KENEALLY:
Absolutely Alan Tudge.

ALAN TUDGE:
That is the lesson we have to learn from the Man Monis situation.

KRISTINA KENEALLY:
Absolutely. I agree completely. In fact I said last week on this very program that my concern about this was largely around security – the security assessment – as to whether or not bringing a man like that on to live national television was properly done.

Let me take you to the interview that Malcolm Turnbull did yesterday on ABC with Barry Cassidy where Turnbull put to Cassidy that perhaps he'd 'lost the plot' in not seeing the difference in having Zaky Mallah in a shopping centre and Zaky Mallah live on television on QandA. Surely you've got to have concerns about the security. I assume you're going to agree with Mr Turnbull and his comments from yesterday.

ALAN TUDGE:
Absolutely. Absolutely, I mean it is chalk and cheese those two issues. Many of these extremists, as you know Kristina, deliberately seek out the media in order to get their views more broadly across. That is what they seek out to do. We've had so many tragic examples of situations which have occurred particularly overseas of where they have done atrocities and then deliberately tweeted out those atrocities in order to get as much media exposure as possible. That's what is at risk here.

I was flabbergasted by Barry Cassidy's assertion that he could not see there was a difference between the security risk of Zaky Mallah being on a high profile live show, versus just walking through the shopping centre on the weekend. Staggered.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:
I agree with you on that one Alan Tudge for what it's worth. I just want to ask you though, for this to be anything more than just frothing at the mouth outrage by the Government, and I recognise there is this review process, but ultimately what are you going to do? What are the options of what you can do?

ALAN TUDGE:
Peter first of all it's not "frothing at the mouth outrage". This is a deep concern about the decisions which the ABC has made to put this individual live on their program and give him a national platform, a very deep concern.

Now what are we going to do? The Communications Minister is undertaking a review at the moment and that will get to the heart of what did the ABC know, who knew it, and on what basis were the decisions made. They will also probably make a series of recommendations. The only power that the federal government has in relation to the ABC is to provide those recommendations to the ABC and ask that they be implemented. Asyou know the ABC is independent of government. It is a statutory authority.  It is rightfully at arm's length of government.

But just because they are independent doesn't mean they can't be accountable. In fact, they must be accountable for their decisions and that's exactly what we are asking for.

PETER VAN ONSELEN:
Alan Tudge, I appreciate you joining us. Thanks for your company. Hopefully, from a QandA perspective at least, your non-appearance doesn't shatter their ratings. But you're making a point that by the way Nick Cater from the Menzies Research Centre is doing as well. He's put out a statement saying that he will not be attending Q&A this evening either.

Thanks Alan Tudge, appreciate your time.

KRISTINA KENEALLY:
Thanks Alan for coming on our show today.

ALAN TUDGE:
Thanks so much Peter. Thanks Kristina.

[ENDS]