Wave of complaints over Q&A episode

ABC has received some 200 complaints over an episode of Q&A in which panelists endorsed violence, and is launching an internal investigation.

ABC managing director David Anderson was even watching the episode, when he realised he had a problem.

The episode, moderated by Fran Kelly, was presented in conjunction with The Wheeler Centre’s feminist ideas festival, ‘Broadside.’ A discussion around violence against women raised the question, “…when is aggression and violence a better option than assertiveness…?”

Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy, said, “For me, as a feminist the most important thing is to destroy patriarchy. And all of this talk about how, if you talk about violence, you’re just becoming like the men. So, your question is a really important one but I’m going to answer it with another question. How long must we wait for men and boys to stop murdering us, to stop beating us and to stop raping us? How many rapists must we kill? Not the state, because I disagree with the death penalty and I want to get rid of incarceration and I’m with you on the police. So I want women themselves… As a woman I’m asking, how many rapists must we kill until men stop raping us?

Indigenous screenwriter Nayuka Gorrie added, “When you say violence begets violence, there’s something kind of… It’s almost sounding like it’s like a level playing field which it’s not. It’s absolutely not. So I think if you’re defending yourself, then I’m surprised. I wonder what our kind of tipping point in Australia’s going to be when people are going to start burning stuff. I look forward to it. Let’s burn stuff!”

Managing Director David Anderson said the intention of the program was to present challenging ideas from high-profile feminists.

“The ABC acknowledges that the program was provocative in regard to the language used and some of the views presented,” he said in a statement.

Q&A has always sought to tackle difficult issues and present challenging and thought-provoking content. However, I can understand why some viewers found elements of this episode confronting or offensive.

“We have received audience complaints about the program, are assessing the concerns raised and will investigate whether the program met the ABC’s editorial standards.”

The investigation comes ahead of the departure of founder and producer Peter McEvoy.

Yesterday ABC confirmed Hamish Macdonald as the show’s host for 2020.

“I’m so passionate about telling the big stories of our time through Australian eyes, for an Australian audience,” said Macdonald.

“This role will be a huge opportunity to make the most complicated issues accessible, engaging and exciting for all Australians, no matter where you live, no matter what you believe.

“I’m proud to join this great Australian institution and can’t wait to serve the audience by continuing the big and important conversations each week.”

Macdonald will take over in February and will be reporting internationally with Foreign Correspondent. He will also remain with The Project at 10.


  1. It’s not just that they aired radical feminists who advocate violence against men, the ABC will demonise anyone like Arndt who will question radical feminism with facts. They had an entire panel who supported this position and no one with any alternative views. Including the host Fran Kelly who though it fine to just support and encourage them and question none of this.

    Q&A used to get 1m viewers when it had more broad appeal and real debate. Even a couple of years ago it regularly rated 600k. It’s not in the Top 20 because few people bother to watch it any more. It is predictable and biased This episode rated 297k, 60k less than Love Island. There were no split shows. Just a lot of silly season rubbish.

  2. jezza the first original one

    Only people predisposed to violence would advocate for violence as an option for social change. I recall an american bloke attempting to do a tour of this country who advocated for seriously dodgy behaviour against women, he was quite rightly booted out. Maybe Mona should return to the U.S. where violent conduct is just a part of normal everyday life…

    • Top 20 has elbowed a lot of shows since they split code News, Chase, Project etc. Then we get Masked Singer/ Masked Singer Reveal. Should be 1 show = 1 number. OzTAM does nothing to stop it. But I think that’s largely why Q&A has slipped out.

  3. daveinprogress

    Any publicity is good publicity I think. I enjoyed the episode. Yes it was edgy and provocative. As others have said if you don’t like it, find something else. Most rational adults will take what they want out of the content and discern what was heat of the moment and for shock value And where really truthful discourse occurred.

  4. I don’t mind Q&A when it gets a bit of argy bargy going. It makes it interesting. But I agree that Fran Kelly should have said the occasional “we don’t condone violence” just to bring balance. Gorrie in particular had a radical position (I think it was her who implied whites should get out of the country completely and that the police needed to be disbanded altogether).

    And I don’t care if you are right or left wing, if you have nothing but complaints and no sensible solutions to suggest then Q&A shouldn’t give you a seat at the panel.

  5. It seems that the same people that defend or excuse the controversial comments in this show are much the same as those who condemn Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt for their controversial statements or poor use of phrases. If it’s not OK for conservative radio shock jocks, it shouldn’t be OK for feminists.

  6. What is controversial about advocating self-defence? Especially when, on average, one woman a week is murdered by their partner.

    And I’m pretty sure “burning stuff” was in reference to the common metaphor “burn the house” down, basically meaning that the current system isn’t working and needs to be re-thought from the ground up.

  7. It was disgusting. If it was a group of men talking about killing women the police would have been called and they would have been charged. But because they were women nothing was done. It shows just how sick the ABC has become, and as soon as the Coalition government takes control of the Senate they should put forward a privatisation plan. Ideally the ABC should be sold to Foxtel and it should become more like Sky News. I find no difference between the ABC showing this and Facebook live streaming the Christchurch shooting massacre.

      • I’m honestly saddened that anyone has such an extremely negative opinion of our National Broadcaster and it’s superb stable of professional, award winning journalists. I’m immensely proud of the ABC for providing the level of quality and independent journalism that signifies the free society we are privileged to live in.

        • “it’s superb stable of professional, award winning journalists”
          You are aware that the industry bestows these awards on itself right?

          “quality and independent journalism”
          Maybe 3 decades ago, now it is just wall to wall SJW anti-Australian propaganda – not good for the country nor representative of its majority’s interests.

    • Omg, put the phone down Russell !! Fortunately Australian voters aren’t quite stupid enough to give the Coalition total control of the Senate, so your batshit crazy idea of Our ABC being privatised and becoming a Sky News clone is unlikely to come to fruition.

  8. Violence is the wrong way to achieve anything. Will the world ever learn? Hitler, Stalin? If something can’t be achieved without violence, it’s better left unachieved.

  9. I feel it’s warranted to have the complaints – to have mitigated this – someone… Fran maybe should’ve said “we are not condoning violence”

    Sadly today you’re likely to have someone with mental health or other issues that will likely hear this as a “call to arms” and anyways as we teach kids – what does violence lead to other than more violence – not my Australia thanks

  10. They certainly have the right to free speech, but as their type are so quick to remind everyone else, they have to be prepared to accept the consequences.

  11. The single most exhilarating, surprising, and interesting Q & A I’ve ever watched. People had ample opportunity to turn off if it offended them; there will always be dull, lily-livered panelists mouthing platitudes and faux empathy for them to watch in future, or politicians launching petty bombs on those with opposing views – but six women with strong opinions working in unison to bring about a radical shift in thought on important human issues, around the valuing of the lives of women and girls, and the aged to a degree, though it got lost in the mix a bit, was I think an important event.

    Radical feminists stimulate thought, rethinking, action, and ultimately important changes in law – people may not like the rhetoric used in the panel, but I am sure many of the pearl clutchers complaining about it are still grateful for the work of earlier feminists that afforded women the vote,…

  12. Outrageous that people would complain against this. Nayuka was clearly speaking in metaphor when talking about burning it all down ~ they were speaking to disruption and the bringing down of current establishments which allow for violence towards women and indigenous folk.
    In the same regard, the other responses weren’t advocating for violence as protest, but violence as self-defence. To put the initial response in other words ‘if you’re being threatened and all else fails, defend yourself by any means possible ~ to survive’.

    Appalling that 200 people have been so bristled as to submit complaints, to the point that an internal investigation has been launched. It’ll likely mean that powerful panels like this (unlike the usual suite of ‘you have my sympathy but I’ll do nothing about it’ panelists) is less likely to happen again. By far the most aware and relevant ep of Q&A this year.

  13. I watched the show and found the commentary and profanity refreshingly honest and real. It appears to be okay for politicians to trash the joint they preside in, so why can’t feminist commentators declare their frustration with the unacceptable levels of violence and assault against women, by advocating a policy of an eye for an eye ? As far as the F word being uttered by Mona at least four times, that’s a dozen times less than it is uttered on some reality, comedy, drama, documentary, and factual shows. It’s just a word, and when used in context, it’s the perfect word of choice. I’m guessing the majority of those 200 complaints came from right-wing viewers and easily offended religious devotees.

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