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.