[Warning: this article includes strong language that some readers may find offensive] The communications minister, Mitch Fifield, has demanded the ABC apologise over a comedy skit that appeared on the ABC’s Tonightly With Tom Ballard over the weekend.
The skit involved a fictitious chat between Ballard and comic Greg Larsen – playing the role of an electoral official – and centred around the weekend by-election in Batman in Melbourne.
In the skit, the duo call for the electorate – named after grazier John Batman who was said to be involved in the murder of Aboriginals – to be renamed “Batman-was-a-cunt”.
It then goes further and calls the Australian Conservative candidate for Batman, Kevin Bailey, an actual cunt. Check out the skit below, but again, B&T warns, it contains strong language:
The episode has now caught the eye of the communications minister who has demanded the ABC apologise to Bailey.
“Candidates for elected office expect to be criticised and parodied. But this ABC segment clearly crossed a line, particularly given that it was directed towards an individual who has served his nation in uniform,” Fifield said in a statement.
“Vitriolic abuse of this kind has no place on the national broadcaster and I will be asking the ABC to investigate. The ABC should also immediately offer an unreserved apology to Mr Bailey,” he said.
Yesterday, Australian Conservatives leader Cory Bernardi said he had written to the ABC’s managing director Michelle Guthrie to complain about the segment.
Bernardi said: “Mr Bailey is an upstanding member of society, a former SAS soldier, a diplomat, a successful businessman and a noted philanthropist.
“It is astonishing that any political candidate would be subjected to such vitriol from any broadcaster, let alone one entrusted, by law, with demonstrating fairness and impartiality.
“This attack goes far beyond satire, is completely unacceptable and warrants not only an apology from Mr Ballard and Mr Larsen but also from the ABC for allowing it to go to air.”
The ABC has said it will respond to both the minister’s complaint and Bernardi “in due course”. Neither Ballard or Larsen have so far commented on the furore.