One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts has defended his party's Trump-like decision to ban ABC journalists from its West Australian election event on the weekend, saying the public broadcaster had been intentionally barred because of its coverage.
ABC journalists covering the WA poll were blocked from attending One Nation's election night event at the Melville bowling club, where leader Pauline Hanson addressed supporters. Media from other organisations were allowed inside, but the ABC crews was told they were not "authorised" to enter.
In a statement on Tuesday, ABC Editorial Director Alan Sunderland said he was "deeply concerned at the decision by One Nation to single out and exclude ABC reporters", and said he had sought an explanation from the party.
"Throughout the Western Australian election campaign, the ABC has provided accurate, impartial and independent political coverage and all political parties have been the subject of appropriate scrutiny and questioning," he wrote.
"If the ABC has been denied normal access to political events for simply doing its job, then that is an attack not just on the public broadcaster but on the fundamental role of the media in a democracy."
But firebrand federal senator Roberts chipped in, levelling a series of insults at the ABC and saying their entry was blocked as retaliation for their coverage of One Nation.
"ABC was not balanced, claims we 'flopped' is false. ABC refuses our party right of reply so we refuse your right of entry," Roberts wrote on Twitter.
.@asunderland— Sen. Malcolm Roberts (@SenatorMRoberts) March 14, 2017
1 ABC was not balanced, claims we 'flopped' is false
2 ABC refuses our party right of reply so we refuse your right of entry
The 'flop' he cites seems to be a reference to an ABC article published on Monday titled 'Does One Nation's election flop in WA have implications for the Queensland poll?'
The article discusses One Nation's showing in the election, where they attracted less than five percent of the vote despite hopes of claiming up to 13 percent.
On Facebook, Roberts doubled down, and added an extra 'snowflake' insult just for good measure.
Sunderland got his reply in, refuting Roberts' claims:
@SenatorMRoberts For the record, I disagree with both of those characterisations. But thanks for engaging...— Alan Sunderland (@asunderland) March 14, 2017
Roberts and One Nation have had several cracks at ABC coverage in recent times, including fellow federal senator Brian Burston famously calling for the broadcaster to be defunded in favour of a 'Patriotic Broadcasting Corporation' in his maiden speech.
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