The Sunshine Coast Daily has refused to apologize for publishing a front page featuring Queensland Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk in the crosshairs of a rifle with the words: “Anna, you’re next.”
The News Corp paper’s election analysis “Labor rout puts premier in crosshairs” said that the Queensland Labor leader was now in danger of losing power after the Australian Labor Party’s poor showing in the state in Saturday’s federal election.
The Queensland government has lodged a complaint with the Australian Press Council on the grounds the image encourages violence against women and has asked the Rupert Murdoch-owned regional paper to remove the image and apologize.
A spokesman for Palaszczuk said that the image’s publication was “disturbing enough,” but added that the newspaper’s reluctance to publish a prominent public apology was outrageous.
“The Sunshine Coast Daily should publish an apology online and in print, and explain that they do not condone violence against politicians,” he said.
In correspondence seen by Guardian Australia, the premier’s office told the Sunshine Coast Daily that it was concerned that the image had the potential to incite violence against the premier.
“[We] ask that any such imagery is not used in the future and removed from the ‘Today’s Paper’ section of the Sunshine Coast Daily’s Web site immediately,” it said.
Queensland Minister for Fire and Emergency Services Craig Crawford called the image disgraceful, particularly in the context of an endemic of violence against women.
“I don’t condone a newspaper or anybody putting anybody’s head in crosshairs, because that does incite violence,” he told Australian Broadcasting Corp radio in Brisbane.
“To some people out there that it is an invitation to shoot the premier. There is absolutely no doubt what a person’s face in crosshairs means,” he said.
However, Sunshine Coast Daily deputy editor John Farmer told Palaszczuk’s office that he did “not intend to pull down the front page from online, nor apologize,” and offered to publish a letter.
“The front page is not an attempt to incite violence against the premier,” Farmer said.
“This was never our intention and it would never be at any time,” he said.
“What the front page seeks to highlight is the fact that Labor’s poor performance in the federal election in Queensland means the state government is now in the political sights of the conservative parties in Queensland. A lot of that centers around the Adani process,” he added.
“That is all page one is meant to signify to readers. It reflects the sentiment of the outcome of the federal election in Queensland and the way many Queenslanders voted,” Farmer said.
“It was a sentiment that proved decisive in determining the election,” he said.
The deputy editor said that he “acknowledges” the premier’s fear, “even if we think it is a bleak outlook on Queenslanders, and will not use the image again in post-election coverage.”
The newspaper’s editor has been approached for comment.
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