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Australian ABC criticized for airing sex scene involving PM

(Xinhua)

09:51, September 21, 2011

SYDNEY, Sept. 21 (Xinhua) -- Australia's national broadcaster, ABC, has drawn harsh criticism as its TV satire aired a sex scene involving lookalikes of Prime Minister Julia Gillard and her partner Tim Matheson.

An episode of the ABC sitcom "At Home With Julia," which aired nationally, Tuesday night, depicted actress and actors playing Julia Gillard and Tim Matheson draped in the Australian national flag after having sex on the floor of the prime minister's office. The depiction drew cross-spectrum cricitism nationwide.

Speaking to Xinhua, Professor David Flint of the Australian Monarchist League said the ABC production of "At Home With Julia" was beyond mere bad taste.

"Aside from merely being bad television and not very funny, this portrayal denigrates the person of the prime minister -- not to mention her partner -- it denigrates the Australian flag, which although not defended with the same laws as in the United States has its own protocols that should be observed, is still representative of our nation and finally it denigrates the office of the Prime Minister of Australia," he said.

Flint added that the ABC ignored a long-standing protocol that bans flag-hitting, debasement or being used to cover anything other than a coffin during funerals.

In its blurb for the show, the ABC says, "The four-part comedy series takes viewers into the life of PM Julia Gillard and boyfriend Tim Mathieson, behind the closed doors of The Lodge."

Calum McCulloch, a member of the Australian republican movement said the concept was "stupid and offensive."

"The prime minister represents the highest office in the nation and that, as a symbol of Australia..deserves to be persevered from the kind of mockery, disdain, foolishness and downright poor taste that the ABC has shown. I am ashamed, ashamed to be Australian and ashamed for the prime minister," he said.

A spokesman for the ABC and production company, Quail TV refused to make apologies for the scene and described the four part series as "courting controversy."

The prime minister's office refused to comment to Xinhua, stating that while Gillard had seen parts of the show, there would be no official response at the time.

In a reflection of the outrage the sex scene has evoked, the embattled prime minister has received support from strange quarters, including her implacable parliamentary enemies of the National-Liberal Coalition.

Several lawmakers have vented their anger at the "viscous television" with some adding their weight to calls for a cut to the funding of the national broadcaster, the ABC.

Veteran National Bruce Scott told News Ltd he found the program offensive and disrespectful to the office of prime minister -- "no matter who the prime minister is."

"How do parents then tell their children they have to be respectful to their elders and to leaders?" he said.

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