‘Tonightly’ Called A Cory Bernardi Candidate A “C*nt” And Politicians Are Extremely Angry

The government has demanded an apology from the ABC.


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The federal Communications Minister, Mitch Fifield, has slammed the ABC’s Tonightly comedy show for a segment that referred to a conservative politician as a “cunt”, saying the show “crossed a line”. Fifield has called on the ABC to apologise and to investigate the show, hosted by comedian Tom Ballard.

Tonightly is known for its pretty spicy roasts, and this one was no exception. The joke in question ran during the Batman by-election campaign last week, and riffed on the idea that the Batman electorate should be renamed given namesake John Batman’s involvement in the murder of Aboriginal people.

The skit proposed that the electorate be renamed “Batman-is-a-cunt”, as a compromise between those who feel Batman’s name deserves to be on things and those who rightly note that he was a cunt.

Fifield was, it seems, fairly okay with this bit. Things got dicey, however, when Tonightly comedian Greg Larsen continued to riff on the issue, redesigning various candidates’ corflutes to include the proposed new electorate name. For most of the candidates, this was pretty straightforward… and then there was Australian Conservatives candidate Kevin Bailey, who didn’t actually include the electorate name on his posters.

“This was an issue because there is no ‘Batman’ anywhere on that poster,” Larsen said, “so I’ve had to put ‘Kevin Bailey was a cunt'”. And while host Tom Ballard quickly admonished him, saying, “no you can’t do that, take that down immediately”, the damage was done, and Australia’s conservatives were enraged.

“Candidates for elected office expect to be criticised and parodied,” Mitch Fifield wrote on Twitter, “but this ABC segment clearly crossed a line, particularly given that it was directed towards an individual who has served his nation in uniform.”

In a statement seen by The Sydney Morning Herald, he added that “vitriolic abuse of this kind has no place on the national broadcaster and I will be asking the ABC to investigate. The ABC should also immediately offer an unreserved apology to Mr Bailey.” Cory Bernardi, the leader of the Australian Conservatives, has also apparently lodged an official complaint with the ABC.

The ABC have yet to respond, saying only that they’ll get back to politicians in due course, but Tom Ballard has taken to Twitter to remind his critics to please used the #tonightly hashtag.