Julia Gillard's partner Tim Mathieson. File.
Julia Gillard's partner Tim Mathieson. File. Nat Bromhead

Broadcaster who asked Gillard if partner was gay axed

UPDATE 6pm: The veteran radio broadcaster who asked Prime Minister Julia Gillard on-air if her partner was gay has been sacked.

6PR general manager Martin Boylen announced on-air late on Friday the station was tearing up Howard Sattler's contract.

"Radio 6PR apologises unreservedly to Miss Gillard and Mr Mathieson for allowing these matters to be raised on the Drive program," Mr Boylen said.

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

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

The station faced a fierce nationwide backlash, including from advertisers, after Mr Sattler's bizarre interview with Ms Gillard on Thursday night (AEST).

During an extraordinary exchange lasting more than a minute, Mr Sattler asked Ms Gillard if he could "test out" some of the rumours about her, including one her partner Tim Mathieson was homosexual.

"You hear it! 'He must be gay; he's a hairdresser.' ...but you've heard it! It's not me saying it, it's what people say!" Mr Sattler said.

Ms Gillard drew widespread praise for the dignified way she handled the line of questioning.

On Friday she refused to comment about the interview other than to say she agreed with Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick's suggestion such "invasive" and "sexist" questioning could lead to women avoiding public life.

"I am concerned about that, too," Ms Gillard said during a visit to her former school, Mitcham Primary, on Friday.

"And having seen so many young girls today, I don't want to see a message like that sent to those young girls.

"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."

Former prime minister Kevin Rudd was one of a number of high profile Australians to condemn Mr Sattler's behaviour, including fellow broadcasters like Derryn Hinch.

Mr Rudd described the interview as "totally off".

"Sattler should just hang his head in total shame," Mr Rudd said."What base attitudes give rise to questions like that. It's just wrong."

 

UPDATE 11.30am: Prime Minister Julia Gillard says she is concerned interviews like the one in which she was asked if her partner was homosexual will discourage young women from entering politics.

Perth radio broadcaster Howard Sattler has been suspended from his on-air role after he asked Ms Gillard the highly offensive question during an interview on Thursday night.

Speaking to reporters at a school in Adelaide on Friday morning Ms Gillard spoke briefly about the matter.

"I've seen the remarks of the Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick, where she has spoken about her concerns that things like this send a message to women and to girls not to be involved in public life. I am concerned about that, too," Ms Gillard said.

"And having seen so many young girls today, I don't want to see a message like that sent to those young girls.

"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."

Ms Gillard later refused to answer further questions about the interview.

The Sattler interview came in the same week a menu containing highly offensive descriptions of Ms Gillard was made public.

It was initially thought the menu was used at a fundraiser for Mal Brough, the LNP's candidate for the seat of Fisher.

Mr Brough apologised the for menu on Wednesday morning, but later that day the owner of the restaurant where the fundraiser was held claimed it had been produced as an in-house joke and was not distributed at the function.

 

 

EARLIER: A veteran radio presenter has been suspended after asking Prime Minister Julia Gillard a series of 'disrespectful and irrelevant' questions about her relationship with Tim Mathieson.

After an interview that had lasted more than 10 minutes, Perth radio host Howard Sattler asked whether he could 'test out' some of the 'rumours, snide jokes, and innuendoes' which had been floating around.

"Tim's gay,'' he opened with.

Ms Gillard replied to say that was 'absurd'.

Mr Sattler replies: "You hear it! 'He must be gay; he's a hairdresser.' ...but you've heard it! It's not me saying it, it's what people say!"

"Well, I mean, Howard - I don't know whether every silly thing that gets said is going to be repeated to me now,'' a clearly annoyed Ms Gillard replies.

"You know, to all the hairdressers out there, including to all the men who are listening: I don't think, in life, one can actually look at a whole profession full of different human beings and say, 'Gee, we know something about every one of those human beings.'

I mean, it's absurd, isn't it?''

"You can confirm that he's not?,'' Mr Sattler continues.

"Howard, don't be ridiculous. Of course not.

"No, but, are you in a heterosexual relationship - that's all I'm asking!,'' Mr Sattler presses further.

"Look, Howard, you and I have just talked about that.... Let me just - 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.

"Yes, on the internet, you know, there are lots of, you know - what I've referred to in the past as nutjobs, and I'm happy to use the expression again; people who peddle and circulate vile and offensive things.''

Earlier on Mr Sattler's Drive show, Ms Gillard had been asked about the offensive menu saga, her lack of religious belief and same-sex marriage.

Howard Sattler has been presenting his talkback and current affairs programmes for the past 25 years.

After starting his career as a journalist with the Sydney Morning Herald.

His television experience includes being a reporter, bulletin director, chief of staff, assistant producer, documentary presenter and commentator on news and nightly current affairs programmes with Channel 7 and 10.

The award-winning presenter, who has been battling Parkinsons since last year, promises "no holds barred news, current affairs, talkback, entertainment and sport''.

But it seems this time he has gone too far with Australia's PM and first man.

In a statement last night,  6PR program manager Martin Boylen said the interview had been reviewed by station management who considered "that the questions posed by Mr Sattler were disrespectful and irrelevant to the political debate''.

"Mr Sattler apologised later in the program for his line of questioning. The management of FRN also extends its sincere apologies to the Prime Minister and her partner.

"Mr Sattler has been suspended from broadcasting on 6PR pending an internal inquiry.''

The row comes after an extraordinary week in politics where it was revealed Ms Gillard was targeted with a menu produced for an LNP fundraiser which described her 'small breasts and large thighs'.

What do you think? Did the interview go too far or was Mr Sattler entitled to ask the questions? 

 



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