MP’s trainwreck interview over ‘lie’
THE back and forth between Sky News and Victoria's Public Transport Minister reached its most awkward on Thursday during an interview that's since been described as a "trainwreck".
MP Jacinta Allan - whose portfolio includes overseeing content broadcast on those giant screens at Victorian train stations - on Wednesday banned Sky News from appearing after the 24-hour news organisation gave Hitler sympathiser and right-wing extremist Blair Cottrell a platform.
The Cottrell interview was slammed by viewers after host Adam Giles referred to his guest as "mate" and labelled his detractors "the mad left".
It was later pulled and news director Greg Byrnes has since admitted "it was wrong to have Blair Cottrell on Sky News Australia".
The Victorian Government went a step further when Ms Allan announced the ban. She said on Twitter: "I've directed Metro Trains to remove Sky News Australia from all CBD station screens. Hatred and racism have no place on our screens or in our community."
At a press conference, the minister doubled down, claiming the Cottrell interview "was not only shown, it was on repeat rotation". She said her office had received complaints about it.
But it was a claim Sky News host Laura Jayes took exception to. She said previously that Ms Allan "has told a lie", but went harder when the two squared off live on air.
"Minister, this content didn't go to air in the train stations," Jayes told her.
"Well, I have some different advice and we're following that through," the minister said, before Jayes interjected.
"What is your advice? Because those interviews didn't go to air in these train stations."
"Well, it's not just about one interview," Ms Allan said. "There's been a number of complaints that I've received about the content that's shown on our public transport assets."
Jayes asked her what the complaints had been about. "We're talking about news bulletins at train stations. An update on the day's news and weather. No interviews, no comment."
She asked for "any specific examples" but did not get any. Later, her co-host David Speers pressed further and the minister agreed to "go and check the advice".
"The advice I had was that (the interview with Blair Cottrell) had been screened (on public transport screens)," Ms Allan said.
"You've obviously gone and done a lot of checking on this this afternoon and I will go and check the advice."
Veteran ABC political journalist Barrie Cassidy called the interview "a trainwreck" on ABC News Breakfast on Friday.
The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said Victorian Labor's move to ban Sky News from train stations was out of step with "our rights" to "free speech and debate".
The Victorian opposition labelled Ms Allan "Kim Jong Allan". State Liberal MP Tim Smith released a statement demanding she "spend more time fixing the train system and less time trying to run state sanctioned media".
Jayes, who has been a vocal critic of the minister's decision, took to Twitter on the day Sky News decided to cancel all broadcasts of the Cottrell interview.
There, she called the man her network had allocated 10 minutes of airtime to "a far right fascist who's a self confessed Hitler fan".
"He's boasted about using 'violence and terror' to manipulate women. His rap sheet includes arson, burglary, racial vilification. He's not an activist. He's just an arsehole."
Cottrell responded in a disgusting, since deleted tweet, where he referred to raping the Sky News host "live on air".
"Not only would she have been happier with that but the reaction would've been the same," he wrote.