Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull has ordered an investigation into Monday night’s Q&A program on ABC TV.
The ABC has apologised for allowing Zaky Mallah, who was convicted of threatening to kill ASIO officials in 2005, to ask a question on the show, and is conducting its own inquiry into the circumstances around his appearance, but the broadcaster found itself in further trouble today after airing an unedited repeat of the show, with prime minister Tony Abbott declaring that “they compounded the mistake”.
Tony Abbott said “heads should roll” over the incident, adding he feared a whitewash by the ABC’s internal investigation.
“We’ve announced that we’re not satisfied with an internal ABC inquiry because so often we’ve seen virtual whitewashes when that sort of thing happens,” he said.
Liberal MP and former ABC presenter Sarah Henderson said the show’s executive producer Peter McEvoy must be sacked, while defence minister Kevin Andrews says he will boycott the show.
Details of the inquiry will be finalised by Turnbull’s department over the coming week.
“The [ABC] management needs to take responsibility for this and there needs to be consequences of this, the management understands that,” the minister said. “I want to get a better understanding of exactly what occurred because there are conflicting reports and I’ve asked my Department to investigate it and report back to me.”
Turnbull said he would not support a boycott of the show or the ABC.
“I’ll continue to appear on ABC programs, including Q&A if I’m invited to be there. But I do believe there has been a very serious error of judgment here and it has to be addressed. And there is no point anybody kidding themselves that this was not a very big mistake. And it is troubling that such an error of judgment could be made.”
On Tuesday, the prime minister told Cabinet colleagues that Q&A was a “leftie lynch mob”.
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