Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull and ABC Insiders host Barrie Cassidy got into a heated discussion this morning over Zaky Mallah — who was convicted of threatening to kill ASIO officials in 2005 — and his appearance on last Monday’s Q&A program.
The debate started when Turnbull questioned how “a man with his track record of threatening to kill people, his connection with threatened terrorist offences, his viciously vile, violent social media utterances” could be let into the live audience.
“How many hundreds of shopping centres has this guy walked into and exposed himself to thousands of people in that way? How has that been a threat?” Cassidy asked.
“Are you pulling my leg?” Turnbull asked.
“After the Martin Place siege, you are saying to me there is no security issue with putting Zaky Mallah in a live audience?
“If you can’t see that, I’m sorry.”
Turnbull said that the ABC had undermined a “legitimate debate” by trying to “create the biggest shock and awe and sensation, instead of running the program like a responsible current affairs program.”
“Why would the producers choose the least reputable, the most discredited, arguably one of the most dangerous individuals to put that view?” Turnbull said.
Barrie asked Turnbull to explain the difference between Mallah visiting a shopping centre and appearing on Q&A to share his views.
“Seriously, you’ve lost the plot there with all due respect,” Turnbull said. “This is a high-profile audience, very high-profile target. This is a fellow that has threatened violence in the past, threatened to kill people, gone to jail for it.”
He says that the ABC “has failed to meet the very high standards that the ABC has set for itself” describing it as an “undergraduate playing at tabloid journalism style” that should “frankly do better”.
Last week Prime Minister Tony Abbott said “heads should roll” after the ABC aired comments from Mallah for a second time on Wednesday.
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