Sky News Australia News Director Greg Byrnes says the pay TV station was wrong to conduct a one-on-one studio interview with far-right nationalist Blair Cottrell.
“It was wrong to have Blair Cottrell on Sky News Australia. His views do not reflect ours. The interview has been removed from repeat timeslots and online platforms,” Byrnes said on Twitter following a backlash against the Sunday night interview with former Northern Territory Chief Minister Adam Giles.
Station management is currently investigating the circumstances around his appearance.
Cottrell, who last year was found guilty of inciting serious contempt of Muslims, after staging a mock beheading during a protest against plans to build a mosque in Victoria, has previously posted a picture of Adolf Hitler on Facebook saying: “There should be a picture of this man in every classroom and every school, and his book should be issued to every student annually.”
Cottrell plans to take his conviction to the High Court as an issue of free speech and seeking crowdfunding for the case.
As well as previously leading the anti-Islamic United Patriots Front, Cottrell has made numerous anti-Jewish comments, opposes homosexuality, advocated physical violence against woman and has expressed pro-Nazi views.
“Jews are the parasites, women are just one of their hosts,” he’s said previously on social media.
After Byrnes removed Sunday night’s interview, Cottrell claimed he was being silenced.
Lol so Sky News caved already to Lefist abuse. I suppose my ideas are so irrefutable, that the only recourse is to silence me. How pathetic. https://t.co/vI0k4nNxlq
— Blair Cottrell ???????? (@blaircottrell89) August 5, 2018
Cottrell’s appearance on the station has been met with widespread condemnation, including by a number of politicians as well as many of the station’s presenters.
He was labelled an activist by Sky News, but the channel’s political reporter, Laura Jayes, begged to differ.
Blair Cottrell is a far right-wing fascist who’s a self confessed Hitler fan. He’s boasted about using “violence and terror” to manipulate women. His rap sheet includes arson, burglary, racial vilification.
He’s not an activist. He’s just an arsehole.
— Laura Jayes (@ljayes) August 5, 2018
NSW Greens MP David Shoebridge said he would boycott Sky News “until it gives a full apology and clear commitment to never again air this man’s hateful views”.
Former Labor minister Craig Emerson announced he was quitting the station.
I have advised @SkyNewsAust that I have quit as a Sky commentator. My father fought Nazis in WWII and was interred in a German POW camp. The decision to allow Neo-Nazi Blair Cotterell onto the channel was another step in a journey to normalising racism & bigotry in our country.
— Craig Emerson (@DrCraigEmerson) August 6, 2018
Journalist Angus Livingston reminded people of Cottrell’s self-confessed history of violence and intimidation, which saw him jailed for four months in 2012 for stalking, throwing a missile and damaging property over attacks on the new boyfriend of his ex girlfriend.
if you have Blair Cottrell on your show it’s only fair to have the other side on too – the woman and man he stalked and terrorised pic.twitter.com/tVbbE2qtzy
— angus livingston (@anguslivingston) August 5, 2018
Labor MP Tim Watts also questioned how he managed to appear on Sky News.
Why is a man who has said he wants to see a portrait of Adolf Hitler hung in Australian classrooms and for copies of Mein Kampf to be “issued annually” to students being given a platform on @SkyNewsAust? https://t.co/aZ17INQ97w
— Tim Watts MP (@TimWattsMP) August 5, 2018
Adam Giles, who has Indigenous heritage, and in 2016 led the Country Liberal Party to a heavy defeat in the Northern Territory election, asked Cottrell about Muslim immigration, positing whether there was “a correlation between the way Australia is going and where it should go in regards to some of the arguments Donald Trump is putting out there”.
“A lot of Western countries lack the national pride that is necessary to galvanise the minds of the masses and protect the people of this country against foreign ideologies,” Cottrell said.
“If we can rebuild or reclaim our traditional identity as Australians then we may not need a Donald Trump, we may be able to fix the situation ourselves.”
Cottrell said he had a “quite simple and quite practical” solution to immigration – skilled migrants, “not too culturally dissimilar to us”.
Cottrell claimed South Africa’s parliament was currently drawing up Constitutional changes to “kill and steal the property from” white farmers.
He said more than one million were desperate to flee the country and Australia should considering stopping immigration from every other country in the world to accept the farmers because it was “humanitarian and economically efficient”.