السبت , مايو 15 2021

Australia's ABC 'wrong' over guest

The audience for a 2010 ABC TV QA broadcast

The ABC is reviewing how it chooses the audience for its live QA television program

Australia’s public broadcaster has conceded it was wrong to let a man acquitted of terror offences appear on live television.

Sydney man Zaky Mallah’s appearance on the Australian Broadcasting Corp (ABC) show QA last month ignited fierce debate about free speech.

Citing national security, the government launched a review of the ABC’s editorial decision.

The ABC has said it will review QA’s audience and panel selection.

“Given his criminal background and past public statements, the live broadcast meant that the ABC was not in a position to manage unpredictable or inappropriate actions or responses,” the ABC Board said on Wednesday.

“There was inadequate consideration given to important issues around his presence in the studio, considering his previous actions, his desire for the media spotlight and some of his public comments,” it said.

Citizenship laws

Last week, Prime Minister Tony Abbott ordered an “urgent” government inquiry into the ABC’s decision and said “heads should roll” over the issue.


Once a guest on the QA program, Mr Abbott is now a fierce critic

Speaking from the audience, 31-year-old Mallah confronted Parliamentary Secretary for Foreign Affairs Steven Ciobo about the government’s plans to tighten citizenship laws.

Under proposed legislation, dual citizens would be stripped of their Australian nationality if they engaged in or supported terrorism.

Mr Ciobo, who was a panel guest, told Mallah he was pleased to be part of a government “that would say that you were out of the country”.

Mallah angrily replied the government had “just justified to many Australian Muslims in the community tonight to leave and go to Syria and join [Islamic State] because of ministers like him”.

Islamic State

Mallah came to the public’s attention in 2005 when he was acquitted of charges of planning a terrorist act.

But at the same time, the supermarket shelf stacker was jailed for two and a half years after pleading guilty to threatening to kill a government officer.

A self-proclaimed media critic and Muslim activist, Mallah had previously been interviewed by several major Australian media outlets and international broadcasters, including the BBC.

More recently, his regular social media posts have attracted criticism, in part, because of crude and sexist references to several female journalists.

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