Zaky Mallah’s freedom of speech does not mean a media platform
If a man called for the public gang rape of two prominent women,
what would be your response? Revulsion? Outrage?
about giving the man a taxpayer-funded megaphone, live and unvetoed, with a
million people listening?
is what the ABC did when they gave the microphone to Zaky Mallah on their
flagship program, Q&A, last
tweeted this year that two well-known female journalists were “decent whores
that ... need to be gang banged on the Sunrise desk”.
He followed up by suggesting he would be first to participate.
was no mistaking by Q&A who
this man was: host Tony Jones gave a short description of him before he took
the floor. Mallah was a known entity who was selected to ask a live question,
had his travel to the studio paid for, and then was given the stage.
His criminal background and extreme views, which I will come to, are
frightening but on Mallah’s views on women alone it is unfathomable that he was
part of Q&A. Where else would
those views be acceptable?
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.
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.
government review is to understand what happened that led to Mallah’s getting a
platform on the program. Who knew what and when? How can the ABC ensure such a
thing will not happen again?
government does not have any power over editorial decisions, nor would we want
it can make recommendations to the ABC board, as it did with its efficiency
review. Mallah’s views on women are just one part of the disturbing profile of
days after our Anzac centenary commemorations on April 25, he expressed his
support for the view that our soldiers were summary executers, rapists and
his criminal history and terrorist sympathies are the most frightening.
is a man who has spent two years in prison for threats to kill ASIO officers.
Police had raided his house and found an illegally acquired rifle, 100 rounds
of ammunition and a manual titled: How I can prepare myself for Jihad.
had produced a videotape that included recitations from the Koran, images of
himself and his purported last message to the world.
you read the full details about Mallah, including his use of the media for
attention-seeking, he sounds remarkably like Man Haron Monis, Sydney’s Lindt
given the microphone on Q&Ahe
used it to his advantage, providing a chilling justification for terrorists
that came perilously close to incitement. This is exactly what extremists across
the world seek: media attention to magnify their message.
back at the NSW Supreme Court case against Mallah and you see that the judge
warns against giving him media exposure, saying that placing such a person in
the spotlight is likely “to encourage him to embark on even more outrageous
the ABC regretted the decision to invite Mallah, but then it doubled down by
repeating the program in full and keeping it on its internet platform. Later,
ABC managing director Mark Scott gave a partial justification for its decision.
So when Abbott asked, “whose side is the ABC on?’’, it was a legitimate
extremists are at war with us. We have suffered two recent terrorist attacks
and others have been stopped. ASIO is monitoring more than 400 people of high
interest. We have all been appalled at the atrocities on Friday night in
France, Tunisia and Kuwait.
choice of side should be uncomplicated when it comes to people who seek to
bring down our way of life.
is not a matter of free speech, as Scott 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
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
government’s review will elicit the facts of what happened but ultimately it
will require a desire from the ABC to change.
Alan Tudge is a parliamentary secretary to the Prime