Managing director David Anderson said the broadcaster would look into whether the program’s most recent episode, which aired on Monday and featured a panel of high-profile feminists, met the broadcaster’s editorial standards.
Mr Anderson said the ABC acknowledged the program was provocative in regard to the language used and some of the views presented.
“Q&A has always sought to tackle difficult issues and present challenging and thought-provoking content,” he said.
“However, I can understand why some viewers found elements of this episode confronting or offensive.”
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) November 4, 2019
The broadcaster has received complaints about the program, which included a comment by Egyptian-American journalist Mona Eltahawy, who appeared to suggest killing rapists might be needed to prevent rape.
“How many rapists must we kill until men stop raping us?” she said on the program.
When asked to answer accusations she was “promoting violence” Eltahawy told host Frank Kelly: “I’m saying violence has been owned by the state, given by the stage, allowed to continue unchecked mostly by men and especially by privileged men. So how long do I have to wait to be safe?”
Indigenous screenwriter Nayuka Gorrie said she thought violence was “okay” in the context of the oppression of Aboriginal people and declared “let’s burn stuff”.
Minister for Communications Paul Fletcher said the investigation was “appropriate”.
“This week’s episode of Q&A on ABC television, in which some panellists used offensive language and called for or endorsed violence. has generated significant community concern,” he said.
“When I talk about imaginary violence against men, everyone’s like, ‘Oh, my God! Mona wants us to kill men,’ and I’m just asking you to imagine a scenario that is the daily reality for women everywhere.”@monaeltahawy #QandA pic.twitter.com/T0JEjxegXn
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) November 6, 2019
Liberal Senator Eric Abetz slammed the episode as “utterly irresponsible”.
“As our national broadcaster, the recipient of more than a billion dollars in taxpayer funds every year, the ABC has an obligation to the people of Australia to uphold the highest standards,” Senator Abetz told The Australian.
Mr Anderson said the program was presented in conjunction with The Wheeler Centre’s feminist ideas festival, Broadside.
“The intention of the program was to present challenging ideas from high-profile feminists whose expertise ranges across ageism, disability, indigenous and domestic violence issues,” he said.
Eltahawy took to Twitter to respond.
“When white men whine and complain, investigations are swift: Does the ABC investigate when right wing extremists and fascist panellists upset viewers?,” she wrote.
“Like Steve Bannon or Blair Cottrell? I think I know the answer.
“It’d be brilliant if Paul Fletcher & Australian Government announced investigation into actual misogynist violence vs women in this country, into racist misogyny that subjects women of colour to multiple forms of violence & oppression, rather than imaginary scenarios of violence vs men.”