ABC hits dump button on opinion of Windschuttle

The Age
August 08, 2006

By Daniel Ziffer

RADIO station ABC 774 has censored criticism of controversial ABC board member Keith Windschuttle.

On the Sunday Arts program, host Helen Razer was interviewing film director Bob Weis about his documentary Women of the Sun - 25 Years Later, charting the stories of Aboriginal women.

Razer noted the film compared his family's history as Holocaust survivors to the contemporary situation of Aborigines in Australia.

Weis said he would like to make one more "conceptual leap", to which Razer replied "be my guest".

Indigenous actress Justine Saunders sat beside Weis and encouraged him as he said: "That while David Irving - the Holocaust denier - sits in prison . ", before he was cut off.

Mr Weis said yesterday he uttered the words ". the Australian Government .", but that did not go to air.

Razer hit the dump button, saying on air: "I can't possibly let you say that", before switching to pre-recorded audio.

Weis and Saunders allege Razer then said: "I will lose my job." This did not make it to air.

"Is it a job worth having?" Weis asked her, also off air, before storming out of the booth.

Weis yesterday revealed he was going to 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."

Weis was alluding to Mr Windschuttle, the author of The Fabrication of Aboriginal History that claimed massacres of Tasmanian Aborigines had been exaggerated.

But Weis says he did not get the chance and is livid about being censored. The subject had not been broached during or before the interview, he said.

"I hadn't got it out, they made the assumption," he said. "The ABC, when we were kids, was the bastion of free speech, a fearless interrogator of ideas. Now you've got these people who are terrified of upsetting their political masters."

Local radio manager at ABC Victoria Steve Kyte yesterday said it was ridiculous that anyone thought they might lose their job over such an incident. His account conflicts with Weis'.

"The program team felt the guest had said something potentially defamatory," he said. "We reserve the right to dump guests and callers for legal reasons."

Razer, an Age contributor, could not be contacted yesterday.

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