Talkback host 'low-life coward'

Last updated 19:41 14/06/2013
Julia Gillard
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This post-interview photo of Julia Gillard and Howard Sattler was taken down from the 6PR website.

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Perth radio station Radio 6PR general manager Martin Boylen has confirmed presenter Howard Sattler has been sacked, following his controversial interview with Prime Minister Julia Gillard yesterday.

In a statement read on air late afternoon the Perth radio station apologised "unreservedly" for allowing questions about the sexuality of Gillard's partner, Tim Mathieson, to be raised by Sattler on his drive time show.

"In the wake of yesterday's interview, Radio 6PR suspended Mr Sattler from Broadcasting pending a review of the matter today," the statement said.

"The station has now decided to terminate Mr Sattler's engagement."

Sattler had been taken off air indefinitely after questioning Gillard on Thursday.

Earlier on Friday, Boylen said reaction to the interview on the station's website had been “pretty much one way” in condemning it as disrespectful and irrelevant.

6PR is owned by Fairfax Media, publisher of this website.

Sattler, who later apologised on air for the interview, has found few supporters among his fellow broadcasters.

Former 3AW broadcaster and Seven Network commentator Derryn Hinch branded the Fairfax Radio employee a “coward”.

"This is just low-life stuff and Howard is being a coward on this," he said.

"This was low life and it diminished the office of prime minister.

"I thought the prime minister showed a lot of class, a lot of style," Hinch added.

"She should have leaned across the desk and slapped his face."

Sydney radio talkback host Ray Hadley said he would never ask about anyone's sexuality.

“Of all the things... I could ask her, that would be the last thing I would choose to ask the prime minister," Hadley told ABC radio.

"The sexuality of anyone, be it her partner or anyone else is no one's business."

Melbourne broadcaster Neil Mitchell said Sattler was a “nice, gentle man” before going on to condemn the interview, which he described as “stupidity on a stick”.

“Now, we all make mistakes, but this was a beauty,” the 3AW presenter said.

It has been suggested that Sattler's contentious line of questioning was prompted by sliding listener figures.

Last month his ratings were down 1.1 points to just 8.4 per cent of the audience in his timeslot.

Sattler has also had some widely publicised health problems, reportedly suffering a stroke last year. Recently, the 67-year-old has spoken about his treatment for Parkinson's Disease.

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No stranger to controversy over the years, New South Wales-born Sattler was caught up in the cash-for-comment furore in 2000 when the Australian Broadcasting Authority examined deals he had with Optus, Qantas and Mitsubishi.

He is also known for being unpredictable in his positions, most recently castigating parents who refused to vaccinate their children.

"Predictable is boring,” he said in an interview with The Sydney Morning Herald in 2000.

“I'll roll with the flow. I'm prepared to chuck the whole three hours [of scheduled material] if something better comes along. There won't be any situation where I'm locked in - I'll throw premiers out of studios, prime ministers off the air, if something better comes along."

Perhaps, his most infamous on-air moment - until yesterday - came when he made the comment “good riddance to bad rubbish” in response to hearing about the deaths of three indigenous car thieves.

He has since repeatedly made the point that he did not know that the dead were aboriginal and therefore the comment was not racist.

WHAT WAS SAID

On air Sattler offered the Prime Minister a chance to dispel "myths, rumours, snide jokes and innuendo" at the tail-end of their digressive interview.

"Tim's gay," was the first rumour Sattler raised.

"Well, that's absurd," the Prime Minister replied flatly.

"But you hear it - he must be gay, he's a hairdresser," Sattler said. "It's not me saying it."

Gillard told reporters in Adelaide today she was concerned such questioning could have a chilling effect on women and girls becoming public figures.

"I don't want to see a message like that sent to young girls," Gillard said.

"I want young girls and women to be able to feel like they can be included in public life and not have to face questioning like the questioning I faced yesterday."

The Prime Minister dismissed Sattler's suggestion on air but he pressed the point.

"You can confirm that he's not?" he asked.

"Oh Howard don't be ridiculous, of course not," the Prime Minister said, while remaining cool and composed.

"On the internet there are lots of [. . .] nutjobs, people who peddle and circulate vile things.

"Howard let me just bring you back to Earth, you and I have just talked about me and Tim living at the lodge, we live there together as a couple, you know that."

with AAP

- Sydney Morning Herald

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