The public broadcaster has responded to the SSAA’s official complaint regarding Q&A host Tony Jones’s misleading comments about the legalities of the Sydney Siege firearm, saying a correction issued a week after the erroneous broadcast was “adequate”.
The SSAA Legislative Action department (SSAA-LA) wrote to the ABC’s Audience and Consumer Affairs department requesting it investigate Mr Jones’s statements when he questioned Victorian Nationals Senator Bridget McKenzie about her passion for the shooting sports. As we pointed out in our complaint, Mr Jones interrupted the Senator numerous times on the September 12 broadcast when discussing the firearm used by Man Horan Monis in the December 2014 incident. “If he [Monis] was able to buy a shotgun, which he did, he could theoretically buy a lever-action rapid-fire shotgun,” he said to Senator McKenzie, who replied that licensed firearm owners must go through the relevant licensing and registration process in order to buy a gun. “He did that,” Mr Jones interrupted.
The SSAA-LA made it clear, both to the ABC directly and in subsequent articles published across our media and social media network, that this claim was false and that Monis never held a firearms licence. “A correction is paramount in correcting the record as Monis did not go through the proper channels to obtain the firearm used in the incident,” we wrote in our official complaint.
In responding to our complaint, the ABC admitted that: “During the brief exchange Mr Jones incorrectly implied that Monis had lawfully bought a shotgun. Following the broadcast, Q&A took a series of steps to correct the public record. Specifically, Mr Jones made an on-air statement during the next live broadcast of Q&A…Online corrections were also posted on Q&A’s homepage…and the ABC’s Corrections & Clarifications page.”
The ABC went on to say that: “On review, Audience and Consumer Affairs considers that the steps taken by Q&A have adequately and appropriately remedied the cause of your complaint, in a timely manner. We therefore regard the matter as resolved.”
Mr Jones did issue a correction during the tail-end of the September 19 episode, declaring that “Monis was never a registered gun owner; he probably acquired that gun from the so-called grey market.” While it was not an apology to the one million licensed firearm owners who were unfairly linked to the terrorist incident, the ABC’s internal review appears to have taken on board our concerns.
The SSAA also applauds our members who called on the ABC to fact-check the claim.