Perth shock jock Howard Sattler will pursue legal action against Fairfax radio after he was sacked for asking prime minister Julia Gillard whether her partner is gay.
Known for his aggressive approach, Sattler’s live radio interview on Thursday night made international headlines after he asked Ms Gillard about Tim Mathieson’s sexuality.
Fairfax management suspended Sattler, who had worked at Radio 6PR for 28 years, on Thursday night and then announced he had been sacked on-air on Friday afternoon.
Station general manager Martin Boylen said Sattler’s conduct was disrespectful and entirely inappropriate.
Mr Boylen also apologised to Ms Gillard and Mr Mathieson for allowing Sattler to raise such matters.
“The station has now decided to terminate Mr Sattler’s engagement effective immediately,” he said.
Sattler told reporters he was taking legal action against Fairfax because he had six months left on his two-year contract.
He said he was sorry he offended the prime minister but had no regrets because he had told her it would be a “candid” interview.
“She should have known it was coming,” he told reporters on Friday.
Ms Gillard said earlier on Friday that she was concerned such questioning could have a negative effect on women becoming public figures.
“I don’t want to see a message like that sent to young girls,” Ms Gillard said in Adelaide.
“I want young 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.”
Sex Discrimination Commissioner Elizabeth Broderick said many women in public office and business faced similar demeaning and sexist questioning.
Listeners of Sattler’s Drive program were split in their opinion about the decision.
One caller said Sattler’s questions were “fair” while another caller said she was “shocked and devastated” at the station’s decision.
But another caller said he had stopped listening to the program years ago because Sattler berated people if they disagreed with him.
Defence Minister and Perth MP Stephen Smith said Sattler’s line of questioning was disgraceful and showed a lack of respect.
Sattler on Thursday had asked Ms Gillard to test some “myths, rumours, snide jokes and innuendos”, following up with, “Tim’s gay. That’s not me saying it, that’s a myth.”
“Well, that’s absurd,” Ms Gillard responded.
“Yeah, but you hear it, he must be gay, he’s a hairdresser … You can confirm that he’s not?” Sattler asked.
“Oh, Howard, don’t be ridiculous, of course not,” the prime minister replied.
Fairfax radio might not be the only ones to distance themselves from Mr Sattler.
The Liberal Party’s Mandurah branch is inviting people to a morning tea with him on July 13.
“Meet Howard, hear his story and enjoy a relaxed morning tea,” their website says.