news

Just all the things we won't miss Alan Jones saying on the radio.

On Tuesday morning, veteran Australian broadcaster Alan Jones announced he will be retiring from radio.

The 79-year-old, who has been on the air for more than three decades, told 2GB listeners that he will be signing off for the sake of his health. His final broadcast will be at the end of the month.

Watch: Given his comments about Jacinda Ardern in 2019, does Alan Jones have “a problem with women”? Post continues after video. 

Video by 9 News

“The experts are telling me in no uncertain terms, and not for the first time I might add, ‘continuing with the present workload is seriously detrimental to your health’,” he said.

“I have taken on extra load in television and print media but if I am to be serious about reducing the workload and listen to the experts then I’ve decided that the bulk of my workload is dominated by radio.

“I guess after 35 years the full stop has to go in somewhere.”

Jones’ decision to step back from the microphone marks the end of a career defined by ratings dominance, political influence and, yes, controversy.

The host has found himself in the headlines (and before the courts) multiple times over the years, having uttered comments that ranged from eyebrow-raising to downright defamatory.

These are some of the most infamous.

The ‘chaff bag’ comments.

On June 29, 2011, Jones railed against Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore’s efforts to install more cycleways, telling his audience, “put her in the same chaff bag as Julia Gillard and throw them both out to sea”.

And it didn’t stop there.

A month later, discussing the financial impact of the Gillard government’s carbon tax, he said, “It is absolutely laughable. The woman [Gillard] is off her tree and quite frankly they should shove her and [then Greens leader] Bob Brown in a chaff bag and take them as far out to sea as they can and tell them to swim home.”

Although Jones later conceded the comments may have been inappropriate, an investigation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority cleared him of wrongdoing.

Julia Gillard’s father ‘died of shame’.

Speaking at Sydney University Liberal Club’s annual president’s dinner in September 2012, Jones made a comment that had much of the public up in arms, advertisers fleeing and Macquarie Radio network facing an estimated $1 million in lost revenue.

ADVERTISEMENT

Addressing then-Prime Minister Julia Gillard’s introduction of a carbon tax, which went against her party’s pre-election promise, Jones made a remark about her late father, John, who had recently passed away at the age of 83.

“Every person in the caucus of the Labor Party knows that Julia Gillard is a liar — everybody. I will come to that in a moment,” he told the audience. “The old man recently died a few weeks ago of shame. To think that he has a daughter who told lies every time she stood for Parliament.”

Jones issued a public apology and attempted to contact Prime Minister Gillard to provide a personal one. He told Anh Do’s Brush with Fame program in 2019 that she refused to speak to him.

“‘I’ve never spoken to Julia since. We had good relationships before that,” he said.

“I hope one day, I’ll be able to speak to her and say, ‘Well, listen. I’m sorry about it. I mean, I didn’t, sort of, intend it the way you saw it.’

“You always regret if you visit hurt upon anybody. That’s not what you’ve got the power of the microphone to do.”

The letter about Muslim men.

In 2014, after a lengthy legal battle against Muslim community leader Keysar Trad, a tribunal found Alan Jones guilty of racial vilification over statements he made on-air in 2005.

The verdict related to a listener letter Jones had read on his radio program, in which Lebanese men were referred to as “vermin” and “mongrels”.

The NSW Civil and Administrative Tribunal said in its judgment: “The assertion is made that these men simply rape, pillage and plunder a nation that’s taken them in. They are then described in sub-human terms as ‘vermin infest[ing] our shores’.

“These words, which are highly insulting and inflammatory, portray Lebanese men in an extremely negative way, suggesting that they rape and are warlike and violent. The words ‘vermin’ also carry the inference that they are unwanted parasites.

“It was Mr Jones who had the ultimate choice as to which letters and emails to read out and who to speak to. There is no doubt that Mr Jones endorsed the views of the correspondent.”

Jones was fined $10,000.

“Shove a sock down her throat”: Jacinda Ardern.

At the Pacific Islands Forum in August 2019, New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern commented that “Australia has to answer to the Pacific” on climate change: “We will continue to say that New Zealand will do its bit and we have an expectation that everyone else will as well. We have to,” she said.

Alan Jones hit back. But his response was brutal and — once again — incredibly costly for his network.

“She’s a clown, Jacinda Ardern — a complete clown,” Jones said on air on August 15. “Here she is preaching, preaching on global warming, and saying that we’ve got to do something about climate change. I just wonder whether Scott Morrison is going to be fully briefed to shove a sock down her throat. I mean, she is a joke, this woman.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The backlash was swift. Advertisers started to walk, and Prime Minister Scott Morrison and former PM Malcolm Turnbull joined a chorus of people condemning his statements.

After initially claiming his comments had been “wilfully misinterpreted”, Jones eventually issued a formal apology.

The following month, The Sydney Morning Herald reported that more than 80 advertisers had abandoned Jones’ program over his statement, and in November estimated that the show’s advertising revenue had halved.

The ‘n’ word.

During the Liberal Party leadership challenge in 2018, Alan Jones used a racial slur while suggesting Finance Minister Mathias Cormann ought to declare his loyalty.

“Anyone can stand… but they are mobilising to block Dutton,” he said on-air.

“The n****r in the woodpile here, if one can use that expression – and I’m not going to yield to people who tell us that certain words in the language are forbidden – the person who’s playing hard to get is Mathias Cormann.”

The antiquated phrase harks back to mid-1800s America, and is believed to refer to black slaves concealing themselves as they escaped.

After backlash from listeners and in the press, Jones issued an apology on-air and on social media: “When these things happen, all you can do is apologise,” he said. “I have no difficulty doing that. I have never had any difficulty doing that. If you make a mistake, you have got to fess up. There is no-one else to blame but me.”

An ACMA investigation found that Jones had breached commercial radio decency requirements by using the expression, which he had uttered at least four times previously.

Coronavirus is exaggerated.

The claim that the threat of coronavirus was being overplayed was a popular one among conservative commentators in the US back in the first months of the year, and Jones was waving that flag locally.

Speaking on air on March 16, he compared the deadly health crisis to global warming — something he has repeatedly referred to as “a hoax”.

“Unless I’m moving in different circles, the almost universal reaction I am getting is that we have gone mad. And in this modern world, of the slightest provocation it seems, we revert — in spite of all the money spent on education — we revert to hysteria and alarmism,” he said.

“We now seem to be facing the health version of global warming — exaggeration in almost everything; certainly in description, and certainly in behaviour.”

His statement was widely criticised as dangerous, with several commentators expressing concern that his audience is made up of a large number of older Australians, who are among those most vulnerable to the symptoms of COVID-19.

Featured image: Getty.

00:00 / ???