Prime Minister Tony Abbott says he has not yet responded to the ABC’s apology regarding an offensive tweet broadcast on Monday night’s Q&A program, but says the broadcaster needs to take better control of the program.
Last night the program aired a tweet from an account that had as its handle an offensive reference to the PM.
The blunder prompted ABC managing director Mark Scott to send a personal apology via text message to Mr Abbott, saying he regretted any offence caused.
On Tuesday morning, Mr Abbott said he had not yet responded to the message, but hoped the ABC would begin to make the changes it promised after allowing a former terrorism suspect and convicted criminal into the live studio audience in May.
“I haven’t had a chance to respond to the text message that I had, because it’s been a very busy morning,” he said.
“I just hope that the ABC management get on and do what they said they were going to do with that program.
“I think it is a bit out of control and I think it’s important for the ABC not just to talk about tighter management structures, tighter management control on that particular program, but actually do it.
As the program aired on Monday night, New South Wales MP Fiona Scott tweeted: “What a disgraceful Twitter handle for @QandA to broadcast!”
Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull personally phoned Mr Scott to complain and demand an apology.
“In what felt like a Groundhog Day moment yet again in the early hours of Tuesday, I spoke with Mark Scott about another unedifying incident at QandA,” a statement from Mr Turnbull’s office said.
“The tweet should obviously never have been put on the screen and the fact that it was underlines the need for better supervision of the program.
“I am assured by Mr Scott the offensive tweet will not appear in the replays of the program.
“The ABC should apologise to the Prime Minister and its viewers.”
Q&A‘s use of tweets is currently being examined as part of an audit of the program being led by television broadcasters Ray Martin and Shaun Brown.
The program dominated news earlier this year when it allowed former terrorism suspect Zaky Mallah into the audience to ask a question of the panel.
It prompted Mr Abbott to order his ministers to boycott Q&A until the program was moved into the ABC’s News and Current Affairs division, which the broadcaster has agreed to.