Australian Conservatives senator Cory Bernardi is calling for the ABC to sack whoever allowed a comedy sketch to go to air, using explicit language to criticise a member of his party.
ABC Comedy show Tonightly aired a sketch last week labelling Australian Conservatives candidate for the Batman by-election, Kevin Bailey, a “c–––”.
Cast member Greg Larsen used the same language to criticise the man who the electorate is named after, John Batman, and his record with Indigenous Australians.
He suggested the electorate should be renamed “Batman-was-a-c–––”.
“I think someone needs to lose their job over it, because it’s not like these things go to air without being pre-screened,” Senator Bernardi told ABC Radio Adelaide.
“I don’t think that sort of language is an appropriate thing on TV at any time.
“When you have a person of Kevin Bailey’s pedigree, I mean he’s a former soldier, a philanthropist, a former ambassador, I don’t think any candidate should be subject to that just because they step into the ring.”
Senator Bernardi said the sketch ran after Mr Bailey refused to be interviewed for the show, and he wanted ABC managing director Michelle Guthrie to investigate.
Coalition frontbencher Simon Birmingham agreed with his former Liberal colleague.
“Frankly, somebody should lose their job over it,” Senator Birmingham said.
I’m all for good humour, I don’t think I’m a prude when it comes to the use of language, but this crosses the line.”
In a statement, Communications Minister Mitch Fifield accepted that candidates for elected office should 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,” Senator Fifield said.
“Vitriolic abuse of this kind has no place on the national broadcaster and I will be asking the ABC to investigate.”
The minister said the ABC should immediately apologise to Mr Bailey.
Labor frontbencher Amanda Rishworth offered support from across the political divide, labelling the language used as “inappropriate”.
A spokesman for the ABC said the public broadcaster would “respond to the minister and Senator Bernardi in due course”.