Liberal Party supporter Jones’s number one-rating talkback show, which airs on Sydney 2GB but is syndicated across Australia, has also been axed by several regional stations including Albury’s 2AY after a listener backlash.
Major sponsors leading the desertion of Jones’ show now include Coles supermarkets, Freedom Furniture, Mercedes-Benz, Dilmah Tea, ING Direct insurance, Challenger financial services and the Australian International Motor Show.
Almost 40,000 people signed a petition calling for advertisers to shun Jones’s breakfast show for the comments, made at a Sydney University Liberal Club dinner late last month, just weeks after PM Gillard’s father died.
In summary, Jones called the PM and her government a liar, several times, and then said her Welsh father ‘died of shame’.
He told a charity dinner: “Every person in the caucus of the Labor party knows that Julia Gillard is a liar… The old man recently died a few weeks ago of shame. To think that he had a daughter who told lies every time she stood for parliament.’
The comments have been widely condemned by both sides of politics.
Former PM Kevin Rudd, who was ousted from the leadership by Gillard, described Jones’ comments as ‘lowest of the low’ on Twitter and called for Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to dismiss the broadcaster from the Liberal Party.
Former Greens leader Bob Brown tweeted that Jones should ‘be sacked’: ‘This doyen of the hate media apologises to boost his ratings. Misogyny is his hallmark. Switch him off.’
Senior Labor MPs used the controversy to attack Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, claiming he had failed to sufficiently condemn the remarks.
Queensland’s Liberal Premier Campbell Newman defended the broadcaster, saying it took “guts” to publicly apologise and said he would have no problem appearing on Jones’ radio show.
Abbott said Jones’ comments were ‘out of line’ but welcomed his apology.
“The comments were, in the light of everything, unacceptable,” Alan Jones told a press conference. “They merit an apology by me.”
He said an attempt to call Gillard personally was declined by the PM.
Liberal MP Alex Hawke, who was at the dinner, said the comments from Mr Jones were unacceptable.
“During the hour long presentation I did not hear the particular comments regarding the prime minister and her late father, John Gillard,” Mr Hawke said in a statement on Monday.
“Having now heard them I condemn these comments unequivocally, I am glad to see Mr Jones has offered a public apology and has also offered the prime minister a private apology.”
Both Mr Hawke and Ms Ley said in statements on Monday they did not hear the comments about the prime minister’s father.
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