Not satisfied with the Administrative Appeals Tribunal orders to apologise to the Lebanese Muslim Community and Muslim leader Keysar Trad, Alan Jones, Australia’s highest paid broadcaster, appealed against the decision only to find the Appeals Tribunal upholding the original decision and again ordering him to Apologise.
As if by divine providence, the Tribunal’s latest ruling (2 Oct 02) comes in a week when Jones was embroiled in a highly insensitive attack on Prime Minister Gillard, shamelessly claiming that her father “died of shame” because of her “lies”. To make matters worse for Jones, his “apology” to the Prime Minister added to the controversy as it exacerbated rather than rectified the hurt arising from his comments.
Jones is no stranger to offending people, in 93, he offended prominent Indigenous Australian Charles Perkins by saying that “Australians” are getting no say when Indigenous people identify Australia as their nation. Jones has been sued a multitude of times, but Trad’s win is not just for Trad, or the Muslim community alone, it is in fact for all Australians.
Speaking to Trad, he explains: “I have visited Jones at his premises on several occasions, we did build rapport and mutual respect, however, his unsatisfactory response to my complaint over his April 05 broadcasts compelled me to take the matter to the Anti Discrimination Board of NSW. With no result in two years, I accepted the Board’s advice to take the matter to the ADT, today; we have this positive, but very costly victory.”
The Oct 2 result confirmed the original Tribunal decision that Jones must apologise in a manner that is acceptable to Trad and that he pay $10,000 damages. Trad has publicly pledged any damages from this case would be paid to a Muslim respite centre run by the Australian Council for Women’s Affairs.
The Appeal panel also found that Muslims were covered by the term
“ethno-religious” as that term appears in the Anti-Discrimination Act, but it seemed that the panel members were not able to apply this precedent interpretation to some of the broadcasts in question. Distinguishing between broadcasts categorised as “Schedule A” and “Schedule B”, the Appeal panel decided that the Schedule B broadcasts did not target Muslims as an “ethno-religious” group, but rather, as a religious group. This distinction is “splitting hairs” according to one community leader who chose not to be identified.
Having gone through some of the historical accounts of this matter, I cannot help but feel that had the Anti-Discrimination Board been able to move quickly on this matter, Alan Jones would have been on watch so that he would not have said what he said in the lead up to the infamous December 05 Cronulla Riots that led to the bashing of several swarthy people and a backlash targeting “whites” in Cronulla.
To remind readers, some of Jones’ original offensive comments about members of our community were:
“These mongrels.” “Lebanese males in their vast numbers not only hate our country and heritage.” “They have no connection to us.” “They simply rape, pillage and plunder a nation that’s taken them in.” “What did we do as a nation to have this vermin infest our shores?” “Tell me we don’t have a national security problem in the making.” “Take the gloves off, and make life a collective hell for these bastards and their followers …”
Jones’ comments leading up to the Cronulla Riots 7 months later were summed up by the Sydney Morning Herald’s David Marr in a 13 December 05 article:
“Sydney’s top-rating breakfast host had heaps of anonymous emails to whip his 2GB listeners on. “Alan, it’s not just a few Middle Eastern bastards at the weekend, it’s thousands. Cronulla is a very long beach and it’s been taken over by this scum. It’s not a few causing trouble, it’s all of them.”
“He assured his audience he “understood” why that famous text message went out and he read it right through again on air: “Come to Cronulla this weekend to take revenge. This Sunday every Aussie in the shire get down to North Cronulla to support the leb and wog bashing day …”
Asked if he is happy with the result, Trad said: “I am always happy to do what I can to stop others from trying to bully minorities, but the cost and time consuming nature of such matters means that the law does not
provide adequate protection to minorities.”
“However”, Trad adds: “This result is a win for all Australians”, it means that Trad has made an example of the Goliath of broadcasting. The person who was once the most powerful in the country has been ordered to apologise to his favourite target group, the Muslims. This is indeed a lesson for all broadcasters. Freedom of speech does not give any person the right to marginalise or beat on any minority.
My first go at reporting on a issue it was an article for an Australian wide Newspaper and thought I would share it.