PUBLIC transport minister Jacinta Allan has ordered the removal of Sky News from broadcast on Metro Trains platforms in Melbourne after the station aired an unchallenged interview with neo-Nazi Blair Cottrell.
The Member for Bendigo East said it was the “final straw” for the broadcaster and the television screens on public platforms will no longer air the news channel.
Ms Allan said Metro Trains “immediately agreed” the content was inappropriate for a public transport network.
“People in their own home using their own devices, using their own devices at train stations, can watch whatever they like,” she said.
“But when it comes to standing on a platform, facing a big screen with content being shown, it’s got to be content that’s appropriate and that’s why I’ve taken this action.”
Ms Allan said the channel’s recent promotion of Senator David Leyonhjelm’s comments about Senator Sarah Hanson-Young, and content from Mark Latham, had started the channel on a slide down the “slippery slope”.
She said Mr Cottrell had “brought damage” to Bendigo by hosting anti-mosque rallies.
“This individual made his national profile off the back of inciting hatred in my home community of Bendigo,” Ms Allan said.
“There were rallies in our hometown that brought great distress to my local community, and so that was deeply distressing enough.”
Mr Cottrell was asked to comment on Australian immigration policy and white South African farmers during the interview with former Sky News host Adam Giles on Sunday. It is unclear how many Metro Trains televisions broadcast the interview.
Following the interview, Mr Cottrell tweeted that he should have raped a female Sky News presenter on air.
He has also, in the past, tweeted about the forced deportation and execution of “enemies of my country” if he ever gained power, and has commented on using violence and intimidation against women.
His attempt to launch a political party, ‘Fortitude’, failed after they were unable to gather the required 500 members.
Mr Cottrell was last year convicted of inciting contempt and ridicule of Muslims after performing a mock beheading in front of the City of Greater Bendigo offices, a ruling he has since appealed.
Don’t tell me to be careful about what I say. If I am ever in the appropriate position of power I will deport the enemies of my country and execute those who refuse to go. Laugh if you want but when the time comes I will campaign with that as my slogan, and I will win.— Blair Cottrell 🇦🇺 (@blaircottrell89) March 21, 2018
Member for Bendigo West Maree Edwards said there was no space for “hate speech” in Victoria, particularly when commuters had little choice but to watch the broadcasts.
“You can’t call it censorship when you’re talking about someone who has such extreme right-wing views, and is a self-confessed neo-Nazi,” she said.
“We understand our history. We won’t ever go back to it.
“He drove a wedge through our community. He was here for no other reason than to bring hate.”
In a tweet, Mr Cottrell described the removal of his interviews by Sky News as “pure censorship”. He has yet to comment on Ms Allan’s decision.