ABC’s Q&A under attack as three guests decline to appear 352



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This morning embattled, controversial ABC TV show Q&A had one guest pull out due to last week’s controversial episode. This afternoon the show had another scheduled guest decline to appear tonight, and another prominent politician revealed he declined the invitation to be a replacement. Is Q&A not only in trouble right now, but in trouble of staying on air at all?

Alan Tudge, the Federal Member for the seat of Ashton in Victoria, and a Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister, was the first to decline, instead choosing to write an article in The Australian explaining why he would not appear as a guest tonight.

His article was entitled ‘Zaky Mallah’s freedom of speech does not mean a media platform’. He wrote:

I have decided not to participate on Q&A tonight, having been invited to do so a couple of weeks ago. As a parliamentary secretary to Tony Abbott, I don’t think it is appropriate I attend while a formal government review of last week’s program is in progress.

It does not mean I will never attend, but I am concerned my participation could be construed as suggesting the Prime Minister and government are not taking the matters from last week incredibly seriously. We are.

He went on to describe his definition of free speech, and his view that the ABC show must change.

This is not a matter of free speech, as Scott (ABC Managing Director) pretends. Free speech means a person is legally allowed to express views. It does not mean that those views must be magnified with taxpayer assistance. Media companies will make mistakes, as we all do.

But a mistake of this magnitude and seriousness requires more than an expression of regret, a weak justification from the managing director and silence from the board.

The government’s review will elicit the facts of what happened but ultimately it will require a desire from the ABC to change.

Following Tudge’s decision, a second scheduled guest pulled out of the show this afternoon, Nick Cater, the Executive Director of the Menzies Research Centre.

“Given that the ABC has failed to apologise unequivocally for giving an open microphone to a convicted criminal and terrorist sympathiser on last week’s Q&A, I will no longer be participating in tonight’s program,” the Australian reported.

“The Menzies Research Centre is a public policy think tank, not a political player. The reputation of our ongoing public policy research must be protected.”

Cater will be replaced tonight by Paul Kelly, the editor at large of The Australian, while Tudge will be not have a replacement. Malcolm Turnbull revealed today that he had been asked by Q&A’s producers to replace Tudge, but he too declined.

What now?

Q&A rarely takes on one discussion topic, instead the show’s producers somewhat nudge the conversation by the audience questioners they decide to put to air. Q&A does go to some trouble to have a good balance of opinion, with an on-screen graphic at the beginning of each episode showing the percentage of political persuasions in the audience.

Given today’s events, do you think Q&A now continue to struggle to find guests? Do you think Q&A does a good job of putting in all sides to its topics? Do you think the show should be taken off the air? Does the show actually need politicians to be relevant, thought-provoking, informative, and entertaining? Has all of the furore around Q&A made you a new viewer of the show?

We look forward to reading your opinions on this continuing controversy.


Starts at 60 Writers

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  1. My thoughts are: It is only a television show, the ABC made a mistake, now could we let the matter drop and move on to more important relevant issues.

    6 REPLY
    • The ABC did not make a mistake. This was a deliberate, well planned and engineered attack on the Federal Government: the consequences were expected and the subsequent screenings preplanned. Such acts used to be classed as sedition.

      2 REPLY
      • I agree with you David. I do believe it was a set up.

      • It’s people who think like this that make shows like Q & A so necessary.

        1 REPLY
    • No mistake. That’s what free speech is about. Shame was it gave the govt a free kick to carry on with its vote catching scaremongering. And past statements on QandA about Julia Gillard weren’t just as seditious? Can’t be selective about these things.

    • Let us agree to disagree David. I think your judgement is a little over the top though. ‘Sedition’ is not a word to be tossed around lightly.

    • The definition of sedition as outlined below would seem appropriate and relevant to the actions of the ABC in general. Australian Law defines a seditious intention as [a]n intention to effect any of the following purposes:
      (a) to bring the Sovereign into hatred or contempt;
      (d) to excite disaffection against the Government or Constitution of the Commonwealth or against either House of the Parliament of the Commonwealth;
      (f) to excite Her Majesty’s subjects to attempt to procure the alteration, otherwise than by lawful means, of any matter in the Commonwealth established by law of the Commonwealth; or
      (g) to promote feelings of ill-will and hostility between different classes of Her Majesty’s subjects so as to endanger the peace, order or good government of the Commonwealth;

      4 REPLY
      • Tony Abbott, according to the legislation you provide, commits an act of sedition at least once a week.

        1 REPLY
      • David you are entitled toy our opinion but we live in a pluralist society in the 21st century not a dictatorship (yet) of the Middle Ages. Talk of sedition IMO is provocative and unhelpful. Without shows like Q and A all we would hear and see would be the distorted views of the Murdoch press and their fellow travellers. Itching they made a mistake having this guy on but if want to look for bias look at Andrew Bolt and his mates.

        1 REPLY
        • Roger
          If the program upsets you so much.
          You have the democratic right to switch it off.
          The way you are talking you will have a heart attack before long

  2. I hope it doesn’t make a difference because it will just be another nail in the coffin in the demise of the independence of our national broadcaster. You’d expect those two who have pulled out to pull out – I don’t think it’s a surprise. I find it curious that one of them says the individual on last week’s show was a “convicted” terrorist. I don’t think that is the case. Wasn’t he acquitted by the courts? Unless this is part of the new regime where courts become irrelevant to the government.

    2 REPLY
    • HG have a look at what he says and what he supports . The whole thing has been a disgrace ABC and all involved need to be held accountable .

      1 REPLY
      • If any private company acted like this the Board/CEO would be gone

    • You know the old saying ‘don’t let the truth get in the way of a good story’?
      I believe this is what’s happened in this instance

  3. What a load of nonsense. More than happy to keep the horrible government off the air. They can continue to bitch but if they won’t turn up they don’t get a say. Clearly they are out of touch and simply don’t like the views of others or being attacked for their poorly developed draconian policies.

    We all know they hate the ABC.

    1 REPLY
  4. Maybe Q&A has lost its credibility, (and relevance)

    2 REPLY
    • No way! Always very credible. Have done nothing wrong – we need to hear all opinions. Don’t have to agree with all. There is no other forum like it.

    • don’t think so I’ll bet there are more people watching now than ever before

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