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Tony Abbott Just Questioned The ABC's Loyalties Over Q&A Scandal

UPDATE: Zaky Mallah's appearance on the show has led to a full review into the future of Q&A.

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Updated on

UPDATE 1630AEST : In response to Zaky Mallah's appearance on Q&A, prime minister Tony Abbott has called into question the ABC's loyalties asking, "whose side are you on?"

Mr Abbott launched the attack against the nation's state broadcaster while arguing for the citizenship law changes on Tuesday afternoon.

"(The ABC had given) a platform to a convicted criminal and terrorist sympathiser - they have given this individual, this disgraceful individual, a platform and in so doing, I believe the national broadcaster has badly let us down."

"Whose side are you on?"

Mr Abbott earlier reportedly described the program as "a lefty lynch mob" to the Coalition party-room.

Communications minister Malcolm Turnbull joined in, saying he's already expressed deep concern to ABC managing director Mark Scott and called for a complete review in the program.

The ABC's head of Television Richard Finlayson has released a statement addressing the controversy.

"In attempting to explore important issues about the rights of citizens and the role of the Government in fighting terrorism, the Q&A program made an error in judgement in allowing Zaky Mallah to join the audience and ask a question.

"Mr Mallah has been interviewed by the Australian media on a number of occasions. The environment of a live television broadcast, however, meant it would not be possible for editorial review of the comments he might make prior to broadcast, particularly if he engaged in debate beyond his prepared question.

"Tony Jones correctly and immediately ruled a statement made by Mr Mallah as out of order.

"Q&A will continue to raise issues that are provocative and controversial. There is always risk in undertaking live television.That is the nature of the Q&A program since it first aired in 2008.

"As has been the case in the past on Q&A, circumstances will happen that are not anticipated. The critical question is whether risks could have been managed and the right editorial judgments made in advance.

"The circumstances of Mr Mallah's appearance will be reviewed by the ABC."

Someone at the ABC's Q&A program thought it was a great idea to get former terror suspect Zaky Mallah to go toe-to-toe with parliamentary secretary Steve Ciobo on live television.

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It was in the final minutes of Monday night's program and Ciobo told Mallah, who is convicted of threatening to kill ASIO agents in 2005 and was acquitted on terrorism charges on appeal, that he'd be totally fine kicking him out of Australia under the proposed new citizenship laws.

"From memory, I thought you were acquitted on a technicality rather than it being on the basis of a substantial finding of fact... But I'm happy to look you straight in the eye and say that I'd be pleased to be part of the Government that would say that you were out of the country."

"I would sleep very soundly at night with that point of view."

It was very very ~awkward~ but then host Tony Jones took it back to Mallah for a final comment. And well, it certainly stunned a lot of people.

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"The Liberals have just justified to many Australian Muslims in the Australian community tonight to leave and go to Syria and fight for ISIL because of ministers like him."

*pin drop*

Mallah, who earlier admitted that he had "done and said some stupid things" that saw him pleading guilty to threatening to kill ASIO agents, later tweeted he'd pay to see Ciobo "dumped on ISIS territory".

The majority of the #qanda audience tonight was pro Libs and pathetic. I would pay to see that Minister dumped on #ISIS territory in Iraq!

The greatest thing about Australia is that it HAD something called 'the rule of law. Today, the trash Abbott government knows NO law #qanda

It prompted some in Australia's Muslim community to decry Mallah's performance.

For crying out loud Zacky!! You don't speak for us! #QandA.

No Zaky the Minister's comment is not a message to Australian Muslims to go to Syria. What a immature & stupid comment! #QandA

And others were shocked at what they had just seen.

A low point in the history of #qanda, a program I enjoy and often defend. They've made a serious mistake in showcasing that audience member.

I disagree with gov't proposal to convict without trial but #QandA giving that idiot a platform was pretty ordinary decision.

That's the sound of the ABC switchboard lighting up with complaints. #qanda

Yeah probably want to stop giving air time to the guy who happily admits he threatened to stage a terrorist attack in Australia #qanda

#qanda Sadly that ended on a very bad note.

#QandA Zacky reminds me of Monis. And that went well, didn't it.

It was like every Australian right-wing columnist - always highly critical of Q&A at the best of times - was firing up the laptop.

Even Tony Jones seemed to realise how far #theirABC had sunk - Jihadist threats live from #qanda audience. No one in charge.

Well done @steveciobo - the only highpoint in that joke show was your courageous straight talk

Did #qanda really let Zaky Mallah speak? Did they also have a minute's silence for Khaled Sharrouf and Mohamed Elomar? #vomit

Meanwhile, far-right senator Cory Bernardi stayed up and calmed down with a late movie.

Thanks goodness Anchorman is on @networkten as antidote to #QandA

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