Outrage Over Newspaper's 'Appalling' Crosshairs Image

The Sunshine Coast Daily has bowed down to pressure and apologised to its readers for publishing an image of the Queensland Premier in crosshairs.

The local News Corp newspaper faced a wave of backlash over its Monday front page that superimposed gun sight crosshairs onto an image of Annastacia Palaszczuk with the headline, "Anna, you're next" and "Labor rout puts Premier in crosshairs".

After initially refusing to pull down the image nor apologise, the paper's editor issued a statement, apologising "to those of you in the community who feel left down and betrayed by the image".

The Queensland government has lodged a complaint with the Australian Press Council over the imagery that was lambasted from both sides of politics -- including Nationals MP Darren Chester and state Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington --  on the grounds it incited violence against politicians and, wider, women.

Queensland Minister for Child Safety, Youth and Women Di Farmer said it was a "really appalling attack" on a woman who happens to be the Queensland Premier.

"There has been a massive public response to this and from people right across the political spectrum from all sorts of people who are saying that this is not okay," Farmer told reporters.

"No person, no human being, should be put in this situation and, look, politicians are fair game ... but encouraging this sort of approach, encouraging violence towards a woman or a man in this way is inappropriate."

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Farmer said the editorial "went past any boundaries of what is acceptable", particularly in the context of a national endemic of violence against women, where between one and two women are killed in a domestic violence incident each week.

"We are not going to address the issue of violence against women unless we address the fundamental issue of respect and knowing what our boundaries are," she said.

Earlier, a government spokesman confirmed an apology had been made to Palaszczuk from the "top of the News Corp tree".

Email correspondence from the Sunshine Coast Daily's deputy editor John Farmer, seen by 10 daily, said the front page "was not an attempt to incite violence against the Premier".

"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 centres around the Adani process.

"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. It was a sentiment that proved decisive in determining the election."

At the time, Farmer said the paper did not intend to pull down the image online nor apologise, but indicated it would be "happy to publish a letter".


But the government wanted the image to be removed online and for a public apology to be issued. 

Minister Farmer said the newspaper's response was "very, very, very poor judgement" at best.

"While the message from voters was very clear, I do not believe that placing an image of the Premier of this state -- of any woman, of any person, regardless of their gender -- in the crosshairs reflects public sentiment," she said.

Later on Tuesday, the paper's editor Craig Warhurst issued a statement acknowledging the front page had been "the cause of a lot of concern", and apologised to readers.

"... in retrospect, I agree it was a poor choice of imagery on the front page. We could have got the message across in a different way," Warhurst said, in a statement seen by 10 daily.

"In no way does the Sunshine Coast Daily condone any sort of violence against women or politicians.

"For those of you in the community who feel let down and betrayed by the image, I apologise."

The paper will publish the response to readers on Wednesday and will not be re-running the image.

Featured image: AAP