The increasingly-heated tensions between the ABC and the Abbott Government have continued this weekend, as Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull appeared on Insiders with veteran host and journalist Barrie Cassidy this morning, condemning the broadcaster’s handling of last week’s controversial Q&A episode, featuring former terror suspect Zaky Mallah in the studio audience.
Malcolm Turnbull accused the ABC of partaking in “undergraduate tabloid journalism” in their decision to give Zaky Mallah entry to the Q&A studio and pose a question to the panel. While Turnbull distanced himself from Tony Abbott’s comments on Thursday, claiming that “heads will roll” at the ABC over the controversy, the Minister did brand the move as a “serious error of judgment.”
Today, Malcolm Turnbull’s take on the topic took a fiery turn as he accused Barrie Cassidy of losing “the plot” after asking him to explain how the security risk of Zaky Mallah’s ability to walk free—in a shopping centre, for instance—was any different to being admitted to Q&A.
“Are you pulling my leg? After the Martin Place siege, you are saying to me there is no security issue with putting Zaky Mallah in a live audience? If you can’t see that, I’m sorry. Seriously, you’ve lost the plot there with all due respect. This is a high-profile audience, very high-profile target. This is a fellow that has threatened violence in the past, threatened to kill people, gone to jail for it.”
After Cassidy’s further questioning on the issue, asking why Mallah should be allowed to walk the streets if his security risk is so high, Malcolm Turnbull said, “I’m really glad you’re not in charge of the physical security at the ABC, Barrie.”
Watch the exchange below, and watch ABC Managing Director Mark Scott’s impassioned defence of the ABC over here.