Howard Sattler with Prime Minister Julia Gillard after the interview (the picture was later removed from 6PR’s Twitter feed)
Australian radio presenter Howard Sattler has been fired after he asked Prime Minister Julia Gillard if her hairdresser boyfriend Tim Mathieson is gay.
Thursday’s drive time interview on the 6PR station saw Sattler asking Gillard if he could “test a few” rumours about her. When she asked which ones, he replied that “Tim’s gay”.
Gillard appeared taken aback and responded “that’s absurd”.
Sattler persisted, saying “But you hear it, ‘he must be gay, he’s a hairdresser’. It’s not me saying it.”
The prime minister replied: “To all the hairdressers out there, including 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’”.
Sattler continued with the line of questioning: “You can confirm that he’s not (gay)?”
“Oh Howard don’t be ridiculous, of course not,” Gillard replied, to which Sattler said, “But you’re in a heterosexual relationship? That’s all I’m asking.”
“Howard 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,” the Prime Minister said.
The following day, the management of Radio 6PR said that the interview “was disrespectful to the office and the person of the Prime Minister and was entirely inappropriate”.
It also apologised “unreservedly to Ms Gillard and Mr Mathieson for allowing these matters to be raised on the Drive Program” and announced that it had terminated Sattler’s contract.
Sattler, known as something of a ‘shock jock’, said he was flabbergasted at being sacked.
“I’ve given 28 years of my life to this station,” he told WAtoday’s Aleisha Orr. “I don’t want a medal or anything for it but I’ve done a lot of good for a lot of people. I’d like to think I could have done more good.”
Gillard later commented: “I want you 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.”
The Prime Minister has refused to back the legalisation of same-sex marriage in Australia because marriage between a man and woman “has a special status”.