ABC 'Tonightly' sketch cops criticism for c-bomb

March 21, 2018

Australian Conservatives leader and South Australian Senator Cory Bernardi says someone in the ABC should be fired over a comedy sketch which used a profanity to criticise Kevin Bailey, the Australian Conservatives’ candidate in last weekend’s Victorian Batman by-election.

Senator Bernardi says he wrote to Communications Minister Mitch Fifield who wants ABC's Michelle Guthrie to investigate.

Cast member Greg Larsen suggested the electorate, named after one of the founders of Melbourne, John Batman, should be renamed “Batman-was-a-c***” because of his poor treatment of indigenous Australians.

Larsen then showed a graphically-altered Kevin Bailey corflute with the words “Kevin Bailey is a c***” written on it.

"I think someone needs to lose their job over it, because it's not like these things go to air without being pre-screened," Senator Bernardi told ABC Radio Adelaide.

"I don't think that sort of language is an appropriate thing on TV at any time.

"When you have a person of Kevin Bailey's pedigree, I mean he's a former soldier, a philanthropist, a former ambassador, I don't think any candidate should be subject to that just because they step into the ring."

Senator Bernardi said the sketch ran after Mr Bailey refused to be interviewed for the show, and he wanted ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie to investigate.

In a statement, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield accepted that candidates for elected office should 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," Senator Fifield said.

"Vitriolic abuse of this kind has no place on the national broadcaster and I will be asking the ABC to investigate."

The minister said the ABC should immediately apologise to Mr Bailey.

Labor frontbencher Amanda Rishworth offered support from across the political divide, labelling the language used as "inappropriate".

A spokesman for the ABC said the public broadcaster would "respond to the minister and Senator Bernardi in due course".

To view the offending section of the program (warning profanity-laden video clip), click the box immediately below:

To listen to what Senator Bernardi had to say about it, click the box below:

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