Senator James McGrath is upset that women used swear words on the ABC.
Senator James McGrath is upset that women used swear words on the ABC.

Senator targets ABC over women swearing on TV

QUEENSLAND Senator James McGrath has slammed a controversial ABC program and written to chair Ita Buttrose questioning why it should not be booted off air.

The riled-up Queenslander has joined other Morrison Government parliamentarians demanding a blowtorch be applied to panel show Q&A, and asked how much it cost taxpayers to pay for the appearance and flights of its panellists on Monday night.

The latest brouhaha was sparked after a group of feminists, some using profanity, spoke freely about evening the score on violence.

Before the show, Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy tweeted, "Hey misogynist and racists shits of Australia. Tune into to (Q&A) tonight so that you can hear me tell all you fu*kwits to fu*k-off".

Mona Eltahawy
Mona Eltahawy

Host Fran Kelly struggled to keep the language PG rated and said, "If you're offended by the profanity, maybe leave now".

Indigenous screenwriter Nayuka Gorrie said, "When you say violence begets violence, it's almost sounding like it's a level playing field which it's not.

"I wonder what our kind of tipping point in Australia's going to be when people will start burning stuff? I look forward to it.

"I think violence is OK because if someone is trying to kill you, there's no amount of 'but I'm really clever. I'm really articulate … ' - no amount of that will save you. Let's burn stuff."

Eltahawy said, "Violence has been allowed to continue unchecked mostly by men, especially privileged men. Exactly how long do I have to wait to be safe?"

Senator McGrath said it was a reason why the ABC was being viewed as an un-Australian broadcaster.

"As a representative for taxpayers in Queensland, it is an appalling and disgraceful misuse of public funds for the ABC to broadcast comments which promote, excuse or actively encourage violence," Senator McGrath said.

"We can have differences of opinion and I am all for open debate, but no one should condone violence in any form.

"Australians rightly expect and deserve much better than this form of taxpayer-funded trolling from their ABC."

He questioned whether editorial practices were followed after a review in 2015.

"In light of the most recent comments, I have written to the Chair of the ABC asking why Q&A, which is a serial offender when it comes to ignoring the views of everyday Australians, should remain on the air,'' he said.

ABC Chair Ita Buttrose addresses a CEDA luncheon in Brisbane, Monday, November 4, 2019. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)
ABC Chair Ita Buttrose addresses a CEDA luncheon in Brisbane, Monday, November 4, 2019. (AAP Image/Dan Peled)

Senator McGrath's correspondence asked Ms Buttrose:

1. In 2015 review of the Q&A program was conducted by Mr Ray Martin and Mr Shaun Brown, can you please provide a copy of the ABC's response to this review and advise what procedures the ABC implemented following this review?

2. The same review found that ABC Editorial Policies and the ABC Code of Practice apply to all ABC television programming. Will you commit to undertaking a review to determine whether these standards were upheld during Monday night's program?

3. Considering Q&A is a serial offender when it comes to ignoring the views of mainstream quiet Australians, why is this program still on the air?

4. Did the ABC pay for any of the panellists' flights or accommodation to take part in Monday night's program? If so, how much did this cost taxpayers?

5. Finally, the review in 2015 also found that producers for that Q&A program undertook analysis of participants' social media prior to the program going to air- in light of the attached tweet posted by one panellist posted on Monday (see below) - can you confirm whether this process was undertaken prior to Monday night's program?

After the show, Senator Abetz accused the show of a "new low".

"As our national broadcaster, the recipient of more than a billion dollars in taxpayer funds every year, the ABC has an obligation to the people of Australia to uphold the highest standards,'' he said.

"The fact that Q&A has not distanced itself from casual exhortations to violence is a disgrace, and an insult to the Australian people who pay for it."

Comment was sought from the ABC.