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The Guardian - AU
The Guardian - AU
Amanda Meade

Amanda Vanstone’s expletive-laden insult of radio show guest caps off ABC’s hellish week

Amanda Vanstone at the National Press Club in 2014. The former Liberal frontbencher unloaded on a guest on her Counterpoint program, thinking he was offline.
Amanda Vanstone at the National Press Club in 2014. The former Liberal frontbencher unloaded on her guest Corey Tutt on her Counterpoint program, mistakenly thinking he was offline. Photograph: Lukas Coch/AAP

Amanda Vanstone was seemingly unaware her guest was still on the line when she finished a pre-recorded interview with him on Wednesday, because the Radio National Counterpoint presenter rudely derided his manner of speaking and called him a “fuckwit”. He was waiting to speak to the producer and he heard every word.

The former Liberal senator’s guest was Kamilaroi Stem expert Corey Tutt, the founder of DeadlyScience, which provides remote Australian communities with educational resources and mentoring. Tutt was the 2020 NSW Young Australian of the Year and was awarded the Medal of the Order of Australia in 2022.

Tutt told Weekly Beast from Canada he was in disbelief when he heard Vanstone saying he would need to be edited so he didn’t sound so much like a “fuckwit”.

“And you know, even as a Young Australian of the Year, as an OAM, as an associate professor, I am still copping this shit. No matter what I do I am still copping it.”

Tutt told the producer he heard the comments and Vanstone called him to apologise.

“Mind you I’ve probably been interviewed over 1,000 times since I started Deadly Science,” Tutt said. “I’ve been interviewed by so many radio hosts: rightwing people and extremely leftwing people – the whole spectrum. But I’ve never had anyone critique the way I talk. Because I’m very real and I don’t need to be a politician. I don’t need to manufacture what I do because I live and breathe it every day.”

Vanstone told Beast: “I have apologised to Corey for what I said and would not like to make public comment at the risk of causing him further hurt.”

Tutt has told the ABC they do not have permission to air his interview.

The ABC said: “Following a pre-recorded segment with a guest on her program, ABC RN presenter Amanda Vanstone made some hurtful remarks about the guest’s performance, unaware the guest was still on the line. Her conduct was not of a standard acceptable to the ABC. Amanda Vanstone apologised to the guest immediately and the ABC has also apologised. Amanda has been counselled by her managers.”

Melbourne’s airwaves retuned

There’s been a big shake-up in Melbourne radio this week, with Virginia Trioli announcing she will walk away from her ABC Radio morning shift on 15 September. Trioli has hosted the show since Jon Faine retired after 23 years in 2019. On Friday’s show ABC Melbourne drive presenter Raf Epstein was revealed as her replacement, with Ali Moore moving into the drive slot on 11 September until the end of the year. Epstein: “I will ask fearless questions and listen carefully to every answer. Interviews are crucial, but the most important voices are callers, who understand and care deeply about what happens next in our city and across the state.”

Meanwhile in commercial radio Nine Radio’s Neil Mitchell is retiring too after an astonishing 34 years on 3AW. He will continue hosting the podcast Neil Mitchell Asks Why.

ABC racism review stalled

The Vanstone incident emerged in a week which saw the ABC managing director, David Anderson, admit the review into racism at the ABC, which was promised in May, had not started.

Talking on ABC Melbourne Radio to Virginia Trioli about Stan Grant’s criticism of the Murdoch media and the ABC, Anderson was asked if the review had started. “No, it hasn’t,” he said. “It’s important to get things going, find a chair, it’s taken a bit of time, I think it’s important to get that right.”

ABC managing director David Anderson
ABC managing director David Anderson conceded that a promised review into racism at the national broadcaster had not yet started. Photograph: Mike Bowers/The Guardian

After Grant received “grotesque racist abuse” that escalated after he spoke about the impact of colonialism ahead of the coronation of King Charles, Anderson said he would launch an investigation of ABC responses to racism affecting ABC staff.

“The review is looking at what we have at the ABC, so if staff experience racism, and they certainly do through members of the public, which is unfortunate, how we provide support,” Anderson said on Thursday.

Walkleys fossil fuel sponsor generates heat

The Walkleys might be missing some faces this year following the boycott of the journalism awards by a growing number of cartoonists, including Jon Kudelka, Glen Le Lievre, First Dog on the Moon, Matt Golding and Fiona Katauskas.

Kudelka kicked off the exodus when he published a piece about pulling out after he found out that Ampol was a platinum sponsor.

“The guts of it is that Ampol, a well-known fossil fuel company, is a sponsor of the Walkleys and in other events there was a revamp of the awards categories recently to make them more in line with modern times and while there was a call for climate reporting to have its own award category, it didn’t make the cut.”

There was in fact a proposal – which was seriously considered by the Walkleys review – for a number of new awards, including separate ones for science, environment and climate, recognising among other things “an exceptional contribution to the public’s understanding of environmental issues” for example.

Instead a new “specialist and beat” reporting category was introduced. It provides journalists covering a specific subject or round – such as science, health, environment, technology, transport, arts, education or crime – a category in which to enter their work, but it has left many in the environment, science and climate field dismayed by the snub.

The CEO of the Walkley Foundation, Shona Martyn, told Weekly Beast she was aware of the cartoonists’ comments and had passed them on to the Walkley Foundation board.

“The Walkley Awards were founded in 1956 by Sir William Gaston Walkley, who was also the founder of Ampol,” she said.

“Until his death in 1976 he presented the awards personally to the winners. Ampol became a platinum sponsor of the Walkley Foundation in 2022.”

Forrest outing

When Andrew Forrest, the executive chair at Fortescue and one of the world’s 100 wealthiest people, wanted to celebrate he gathered about 700 people at his Solomon mine in remote Western Australia.

Andrew Forrest
Andrew Forrest flew guests to his Solomon mine in remote Western Australia to celebrate 20 years of his Fortescue Metals Group. Photograph: Bianca de Marchi/AAP

Among the fellow billionaires were a couple of newspaper editors and a handful of journalists who partook of the largesse of the mining magnate.

The Sydney Morning Herald editor, Bevan Shields, and the Daily Telegraph editor, Ben English, were the editors who accepted the invitation. From Nine there was Eddie McGuire and AFR columnist Jennifer Hewitt and from News Corp there was Sky News host Laura Jayes and columnist Joe Hildebrand.

Forrest flew guests on chartered Qantas flights on Saturday to celebrate 20 years of his Fortescue Metals Group and they were entertained by Jimmy Barnes.

In an item with three bylines which reported on the party the AFR disclosed “Two of the authors travelled to the Pilbara as guests of Fortescue Metals”. We can confirm Rear Window columnist Myriam Robin – who had the third byline – was not an attender.

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