Malcolm Turnbull named on next Q&A panel as ABC publishes inquiry terms of reference

Q&AThe ABC has announced Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull as a panelist on next Monday’s Q&A despite an ongoing ban on government ministers appearing on the show until the outcome of a review has been published.

Today the public broadcaster issued the terms of reference for the internal inquiry into political balance on the show, which is to be run by television journalist Ray Martin and former SBS managing director Shaun Brown.

The two reviewers will look at six questions covering: discussion topics on the political panel show; panel composition; moderation of the panel by host Tony Jones; diversity of topics and perspectives; role of the audience and finally the impact of the featured Twitter stream on the program.

The review was triggered after a media outcry about the decision to allow terror suspect Zaky Mallah to ask a question of the panel last month.

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull

Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull

This morning the ABC also circulated a press release about next Monday’s show which named Turnbull as a panelist.

A spokesman for the Minister today refused to be drawn on whether he would appear, directing Mumbrella to comments made by Turnbull yesterday, where he left the door open to flouting a ban by the Prime Minister on ministers being part of the panel while the internal inquiry is ongoing.

Turnbull yesterday told reporters: “Well we’ll see what the position is next Monday but really I have nothing more to say about Q&A. There has perhaps been too much said about it already.”

The reviewers will be asked to look at the first 23 Q&A programs of 2015, including a controversial episode on gay and lesbian rights, and have also been invited to “make whatever additional comments they regard as relevant in relation to the programs, the audit methodology, or the Editorial Policies and Guidance Note.”

The report will then go to director of ABC TV Richard Finlayson before going before the ABC board and then being published on the ABC website.

Report reviewer Ray Martin drew criticism on Tuesday after commenting on the Q&A furore during an appearance on Seven’s Sunrise.

During the show he described the outcry surrounding the appearance of Zaky Mallah as a “political issue” and described the decision to ban ministers from appearing on the show as “silly”.

Last week the Department of Communications issued its own external review of the Mallah appearance which failed to make any recommendations around the incident.

Nic Christensen 

The research questions which Martin and Brown will be asked to address:

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The ABC media release regarding Monday night’s show:

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