When Politicians and Shock Jocks don’t mix

A story of pots and kettles

Comment from Peter Saxon

For the first time since Kyle Sandilands joined KIIS 106.5 at the beginning of last year, the serious possibility of an ACMA investigation reared its onerous head last month. 

The complaint came from the Minister for Agriculture, Barnaby Joyce who was incensed at his treatment at the hands of Kyle following his now infamous remarks telling Johnny Depp and his two Yorkshire Terriers to “bugger off” back to the U.S. after the dogs had been illegally smuggled in to Australia on Depp’s private jet. Worse still, Mr Joyce threatened to have the cute pups put down unless Depp had them deported pronto.

Most commentators across all media thought Mr Joyce’s remarks intemperate for a Federal Minister. But Kyle being Kyle went further in delivering a tirade on the Minister that would make Captain Jack Sparrow wilt. Read my comments at the time (now unlocked) here

Last week it was  Ray Hadley’s turn on 2GB. Ably assisted by Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, he gave Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young no quarter. Calling her an “embarrassment to the country,” he played a satirical song to the tune of Forever Young with lyrics such as, “Sarah Hanson-Young is just the worst ever. She makes Bob Brown look kinda clever.” And, “Talk about a half-wit. Sarah Hanson-Young, I don’t want to hear Sarah Hanson-Young. I’m sure she’ll be quite mad forever, forever, not clever.”

Although not threatening to wake the media watchdog, Greens deputy leader Senator Larissa Waters went in to bat for her colleague, accusing Hadley and Dutton of promoting “sexist claptrap.”

“Unfortunately this sort of pathetic attack on a young woman doing her job exceedingly well in the Parliament just demonstrates what a problem with sexism we still have in the Parliament and sadly in the nation more broadly,” Senator Waters said.

In any event, if precedent is any guide, it would be unlikely that either KIIS or 2GB would be found guilty of breaching the rules that prohibit, among other things, “inciting intense dislike, serious contempt or severe ridicule on the grounds of gender or disability.”

You will no doubt recall the events of 2012 when the withering verbal blow, Alan Jones, suggested that Julia Gillard, Clover Moore and Bob Brown should be “Put in the same chaff bag and thrown out to sea.”

While many observers found these remarks offensive and beyond the pale, the ACMA found that “While Mr Jones made very disrespectful and disparaging comments about the Prime Minister and others in public office they did not amount to a breach of the prohibitions on: broadcasting indecent material: inciting violence or brutality or inciting intense dislike, serious contempt or severe ridicule on the grounds of gender or disability.”

Like Jones, there is little doubt that both Sandilands and Hadley “made very disrespectful and disparaging comments.” Such comments aimed at figures less public than politicians deserve our censure if not an adverse finding from the ACMA. But given their own behaviour in parliament. politicians who race to authorities to punish those in the media who offend them is truly case of pots calling kettles black.


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