Appearing on the ABC’s 7.30 Report on Thursday night, communications minister Malcolm Turnbull said “there should be consequences” after Zaky Mallah, who was convicted of threatening to kill ASIO officials in 2005, was allowed to ask a question on Monday night’s Q&A program.
Earlier on Thursday, Prime Minister Tony Abbott said “heads should roll” after the ABC decided to air comments from Mallah on its Q&A program for a second time on Wednesday. An inquiry has been ordered into the fracas.
While Turnbull said he wasn’t going to run a commentary on what the Prime Minister had said, he told host Leigh Sales “the management has to take responsibility for it”.
“This was a very serious error of judgement,” Turnbull said, adding he has discussed the matter with ABC director Mark Scott and said the department of communications will conduct its own investigation into the incident.
“I’m not going to give them a list of things that they should do, but let me say, Leigh, this was an extraordinary error of judgement,” Turnbull said.
“To have that man on live television was incredible. Leaving aside his background, the fact that he pleaded guilty to threatening to kill ASIO officers, the fact that he’d been charged with terrorism offences and though he had been acquitted…he made a lot of threats,” Turnbull said.
“We are talking about a live audience on one of the most influential programs on the national broadcaster.”
Turnbull also took the ABC to task when it decided to rebroadcast the episode of Q&A after it has acknowledged its mistake.
The ABC has apologised for allowing Mallah to appear on the show, and is conducting its own inquiry into the circumstances around his appearance.
MD Mark Scott is due to give an address later tonight.
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