What would John Howard say about this Q and A saga?

WHAT would former Prime Minister John Howard think about a man acquitted of terror-related charges taking a swipe at his government on a public panel show?

Mr Howard took a hard line on asylum seekers, on gun ownership and put Australia into the warzones of Afghanistan and Iraq alongside the United States and coalition forces.

So how would he have reacted if he faced the same confrontation that the Foreign Minister's parliamentary secretary Steve Ciobo had with convicted criminal Zaky Mallah on Q&A this week?

Mr Mallah was found guilty of threatening ASIO agents, but not was acquitted of terrorism charges.

After quizzing Mr Ciobo on whether he would have been convicted under new laws, given he was acquitted at the time.

He then told the panel "The Liberals now have just justified to many Australian Muslims in the community tonight to leave and go to Syria and join ISIL because of Ministers like him".

A widespread backlash has followed, with NewsLtd running a stream of front pages inserting the ABC logo into the now-notorious ISIS flag.

Prime Minister Tony Abbott has said "heads should roll" at the ABC after Mr Mallah's comments on the show were taken to be inflammatory.

Mr Abbott also asked the ABC directly at a press conference, "Whose side are you on?"

The ABC has since apologised for what it called an error of judgement.

ABC managing director Mark Scott said the network was "on the side of Australia" overnight.

John Howard appearing on ABC panel show Q&A;, answering a question posed by convicted foreign fighter David Hicks
John Howard appearing on ABC panel show Q&A;, answering a question posed by convicted foreign fighter David Hicks

Mr Howard appeared on the ABC panel show in 2010 to face tough questions from Guantanamo Bay prisoner David Hicks.

Mr Hicks was convicted in the US for providing support for terrorism, convictions that were ruled invalid in 2012.

On Q&A, he asked Mr Howard:  "When you were Prime Minister, you left me in Guantanamo Bay for five and a half years.

"During that time I was detained without charge for a long time; I was denied a fair trial; I was tortured.

"Do you believe that I was treated humanely and that the military commission was a fair system?"

This was Mr Howard's response:

"Well, I'd make a couple of responses to David Hicks.

"The first is that isn't it a great country that allows this kind of exchange to occur and this is not the sort of exchange that would occur in other countries and in dictatorships

"It ought to make all of us -- whatever our views are about my government's policies concerning Mr Hicks -- it ought to make all of us very proud that we live in a country that allows that sort of exchange.

"Now, having said that, can I simply say that I defend what my government did in relation to Iraq, in relation to the military commissions.

"We put a lot of pressure on the Americans to accelerate the charges being brought against David Hicks.

"I remind the people watching this program that David Hicks did plead guilty to a series of offences and they, of course, involved him in full knowledge of what had happened on 11 September, attempting to return to Afghanistan and rejoin the people with whom he had trained.

"So let's understand the reality of that David Hicks pleaded guilty to."
 

 

 

 


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