Dutton agrees ‘heads should roll’ at ABC

Peter Dutton has stood by the Prime Minister’s comments that “heads should roll” at the ABC following the appearance of a convicted criminal in the live audience of the public broadcaster’s Q&A program.

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The Immigration Minister said it was inappropriate to allow Zaky Mallah, who pleaded guilty to threatening to kill ASIO officers, to take part in the live forum.

“I endorse the words of the Prime Minister that heads should roll because it was an inappropriate use of taxpayers’ money,” he said.

“Q&A clearly have lost the plot and something needs to happen and it needs to happen quickly.”

Liberal frontbencher Christopher Pyne also accused the ABC of trying to deflect attention from the fact it allowed a convicted criminal into a live studio audience.

Mr Pyne says ABC boss Mark Scott should admit wrongdoing for allowing Mallah on the Q&A program instead of trying to “pretend” that the government is attacking free speech.

“Mark Scott is trying to change the debate to something it isn’t,” he told the Nine Network on Friday.

Assistant Treasurer Josh Frydenberg called for reform of the program but refused to support calls from coalition colleague Kevin Andrews for a boycott of the show.

“I won’t be boycotting and I hope we don’t boycott Q&A,” he told ABC radio.

Labor frontbencher Anthony Albanese said it was a “stupid decision” for the ABC to give Mr Mallah a platform.

Mr Scott has conceded the decision to allow Mr Mallah, who pleaded guilty to threatening to kill ASIO officers, on the broadcaster’s live forum should have been referred higher up the management ladder.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has called for “heads to roll” at the ABC over the controversial program and questioned “what side” the broadcaster is on.

Mr Scott said the ABC was on the side of Australia, but its charter is to be an independent public broadcaster.

“I hope no one seriously wants the ABC to be a state broadcaster,” he said in a speech on Thursday night, his first public comment on the issue.