The furore surrounding ABC presenter Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s unsavoury ANZAC Day gaffe continues with a petition to have her removed from the public broadcaster reaching 70,000 signatures and political commentator (and Real Housewife) Lisa Oldfield launching a stinging rebuke of the 26-year-old on Sky News yesterday.
On Tuesday, Abdel-Magied tweeted “Lest we forget (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine …)” infuriating many who described the comment as offensive to fallen Diggers on ANZAC Day.
Yesterday, Oldfield used her appearance on Sky News’ Paul Murray Live program to describe Abdel-Magied as a “bitch” and inferred she was only employed by the ABC because of her colour and religion.
“It wasn’t ignorant, she was just being a bitch,” Oldfield said.
“At the end of the day I don’t like what she said. I was offended by what she said. But I still support her right to freedom of speech, and my right to be able to turn around and say lest we forget, Yassmin, that you are brown, you are Muslim and you are a girl, and that’s the only reason you have a job at the ABC.”
In his regular spot on Seven’s Sunrise, Alan Jones added: “The woman is silly, she’s insensitive, she’s inexperienced. She’s obviously pretty un-Australian and she obviously lacks a fair amount of courage because she wasn’t prepared to face up to what she said.
“In this country, thankfully, there are no laws against these kinds of things, so she’s entitled to make a fool of herself. What she doesn’t understand, of course, is the soldiers we honoured (on ANZAC Day) fought for the kinds of freedoms she enjoyed where she can say those silly things and make a fool of herself,” Jones said.
Despite calls for Abdel-Magied’s sacking, the ABC has said that the Australia Wide presenter only works for the public broadcaster part-time hence her comments were her own and she would not be removed.
In February, Abdel-Magied provoked similar furore when she told the ABC’s Q&A that she felt Islam was “the most feminist of religions”. Many people arguing she was oblivious to the suffering of many Muslim women around the world.
Following Tuesday’s mishap, a number of politicians (and Muslim leaders) lined-up to condemn Abdel-Magied comments led by acting prime minister Barnaby Joyce who believed the ABC’s indifference to the tweet showed it didn’t mirror the views of the vast majority of Australians.
“You can’t just sweep it under the carpet,” Joyce told ABC Radio. “It starts to become a sense that the culture of the ABC is in some instances at odds with the culture of Australia.
“We don’t want that, and I don’t believe that is the case.
“But you can’t just have one of your paid presenters making a statement like that when you have other people out there representing their grandparents, their parents … who have lost fathers, who have lost people close in their lives, who have people at risk fighting for the nation.”
In turn the ABC responded with a media statement that read: “Ms Abdel-Magied acknowledged that the timing and nature of the post was disrespectful. Her decision to delete it and apologise was appropriate. Ms Abdel-Magied is also engaged in a range of other activities and work that is not related to the ABC. Her views and opinions in that capacity are her own and do not represent those of the ABC.”
In his radio interview, Joyce also hinted that the ABC’s stance may affect the broadcaster’s funding. They make life exceedingly difficult for people like myself on the Expenditure Review Committee when we’re fighting for funds when issues such as this are brought up to us,” he said.
Earlier this month, One Nation senators called for the ABC’s budget to be slashed by $600 million annually over its concerns that it was never given a fair go by its journalists. Party leader Pauline Hanson was also left furious after an ABC journalist revealed she was to visit Australian service personnel in Afghanistan and Iraq for ANZAC Day commemorations, however, the trip had to be abandoned following security concerns. Hanson has since vowed never to give interviews to the ABC.