According to today’s Age,
Melbourne radio station ABC 774 has censored criticism of controversial
ABC board member Keith Windschuttle. During an interview with Helen
Razer on the Sunday Arts program, film director Bob Weis, talking about his documentary Women of the Sun – 25 Years Later,
was cut off before he could say: “That while David Irving – the
Holocaust denier – sits in prison, the Australian Government put our
chief Holocaust denier on the board of the ABC.” Razer hit the dump
button, saying on air: “I can’t possibly let you say that”. It’s
alleged by Weis that Razer then said, off air, “I will lose my job”.

There was “no attempt to censor comments made by Bob Weis”, says local ABC Victoria radio manager Steve Kyte. “The
program team felt the guest had said something potentially defamatory
and used the dump button. This is a device that we use to stop anything
that could be legally problematic going to air. It’s also used on other
occasions for example when a caller or a guest uses bad language. It’s
a ridiculous suggestion to say that the program team dumped the
comments because they were afraid of losing their jobs. This is just
not true.”

Bob Weis responds:

While there has been some heat around
the appearance on ABC radio of Justine Saunders and myself there has
not been a great deal of light. Let me set the record straight.

In
answer to a question about why Justine had given back her Order of
Australia and a further question to the parallels I draw in the film Women of the Sun – 25 Years Later
between the Holocaust and events here, I offered to contextualise this
by comparing the British response to Holocaust denial in the case of
David Irving and the treatment of our own Holocaust denier in
Australia. This is as far as I got either on air or before I was
“dumped”. I had no intention to mention names. That the program makers
assumed they knew what I was going to say goes to the heart of some
important issues of our stolen democracy.

Firstly, they are not responsible for what I say or, more fantastically, for what they think I might say.

Secondly,
it is a sad refection of their working situation that they assumed that
I might say something which would endanger their jobs.

Thirdly,
by silencing a dissenting voice and finishing an interview that had
somewhere to go, the program makers showed a profound lack of respect
for the Indigenous people of this land and their sad and true stories.
It was a direct slap in the face to a celebrated figure in Justine who
was angry and upset at the insult to me.

Perhaps most
importantly, the ABC is NOT an arm of government nor the mouthpiece of
any particular view of the world. We have enough of that in the
commercial sector. The independence of the ABC is written into its
charter. What we experienced was the insidious way that independence
can be undermined by a government determined to be the authors of the
TRUTH.

More than ever, we need a bill of rights that guarantees
freedom of speech and equality of all humans in this land WE call
Australia.

Peter Fray

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