This attack goes far beyond satire - Bernardi

March 20, 2018

The Federal Communications Minister has ordered an investigation into an ABC skit which branded the Australian Conservatives candidate for the Batman by-election a “c**t”.

News Limited reports the ABC Comedy show Tonightly with Tom Ballard last week ran a segment on the weekend’s by-election, highlighting the controversy over the electorate’s namesake and founder of Melbourne, grazier John Batman.

Comedian Greg Larsen suggested the name be changed to “Batman-is-a-c**t”, showing mock-up versions of campaign posters for Labor candidate Ged Kearney, Greens candidate Alex Bhathal and Australian Conservatives candidate Kevin Bailey.

“This was an issue because there is no ‘Batman’ anywhere on that poster, so I’ve had to put ‘Kevin Bailey is a c**t’,” Larsen said.

“I tried to get an interview with Kevin Bailey, I was like, ‘Hey man, let’s have an interview, we’ll do a funny package about the election.’ I wasn’t even going to make fun of you, I was going to make fun of The Greens, but then you refused the interview so this is what happens. This is what happens when you f**k with Greg, man.”

On Tuesday, Australian Conservatives leader Cory Bernardi said he had written to ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie to lodge an official complaint. “Mr Bailey is an upstanding member of society, a former SAS soldier, a diplomat, a successful businessman and a noted philanthropist,” he said in a statement.

“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.”

Communications Minister Mitch Fifield said in a statement: “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.

“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.”

The ABC did not respond to requests for comment.

To view the offending video (warning strong profanity is used in this clip) click the video below:

To read the full News Limited article by Frank Chung, click here.

Picture: Federal Communications Minister Mitch Fifield

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