There is no more reliable indicator of mainstream opinion in Australia than the ABC program Q&A. Here’s how it works. You take any issue that receives wild and spontaneous applause from the Q&A crowd, reverse it, and then you know exactly what mainstream Australia is thinking.

Well, I usually get a standing ovation on Q&A

So it was when Julian Assange popped up in March last year with a surprise question to Prime Minister Julia Gillard during one of her solo appearances on Q&A.

The crowd went bananas as their boy asked Ms Gillard was it true her Government had exchanged intelligence with foreign powers about the conduct of Australian WikiLeaks activists and, if so, whether she should be charged with treason.

It’s the kind of question which is almost unhinged enough to prompt a quick phone call to the local sanatorium to see if Jules could check in for a lie-down.
Yet on Q&A, it almost got him a standing ovation.

“What Australian citizens want to know is which country do you represent?” Assange began, deigning to speak on behalf all 22 million of us who, despite having some gripes about the manner of Ms Gillard’s election victory, are still reasonably clear on the fact that she is the Prime Minister of Australia.

He culminated with the suggestion that Ms Gillard, as a de facto war criminal who had endangered the lives of his comrades, should be charged with treason.

At least Tony Jones had enough a wry sense of humour to tell the PM: “You can take the treason part first if you like.”

In reality, the chances of the Prime Minister being charged with treason are about as likely as Julian Assange becoming Senator Assange at next year’s election.

The WikiLeaks founder confirmed yesterday that he intends to run for the Federal Parliament at next year’s election, and is close to having the 500 signed-up supporters he requires to form a party.

He will probably have to come out of the Ecuadorian Embassy in London at some stage as well if he intends to hit the campaign trail in earnest.

Assange’s oracle-like propensity to speak on behalf of the entire nation might go down well with the Q&A audience but I would very much doubt that it will endear him to the wider community.

If anything, the perception of Assange and his organisation has cooled as he has looked more and more like an egotist and a narcissist who is more interested in cultivating his profile than being a genuine force for good.

That’s not to say his organisation did not do some good things.

As a journalist I would argue that some of the information released by WikiLeaks was wholly in the public interest, such as the gruesome footage of US Marines shooting upon Iraqi civilians. But the fact that makes WikiLeaks different from a media organisation is its total and consistent disregard for, first, checking the veracity of the material it publishes, and then considering the results of that publication.

Hence the release of files which compromised the safety of US State Department officials and identified dissidents in China and Iran, resulting in their harassment by their repressive governments.

WikiLeaks also forced an African journalist to flee his home, escaping from Ethiopia to Uganda, after being the subject of government threats once his identity and activities were revealed.

Given Assange’s hostility to the establishment and his clear belief that long-standing institutions should be challenged if not destroyed, it is difficult to fathom what he intends to achieve as a Member of Parliament anyway - perhaps call up bureaucrats from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, or the Office of National Assessments, so that he can reveal their identities in Parliament.

Who knows, the absence of any stated policy agenda makes it look more like a pretty transparent case of self-promotion.

It’s almost as though with every passing month Assange feels the need to keep himself in the headlines and pops up with a self-aggrandising statement or publicity stunt, of which this is merely the latest.

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    • hammy says:

      07:43am | 14/12/12

      “But the fact that makes WikiLeaks different from a media organisation is its total and consistent disregard for, first, checking the veracity of the material it publishes, and then considering the results of that publication.”

      Like 2dayFM?

    • Smoke Crack - Worship Assange says:

      08:12am | 14/12/12

      Make way for Assange, the political stuntman

      What about “Make way for Assange, the Porn Star”?

      Make way for Assange, the New Messiah?
      Make way for Assange, the next Eraserhead?
      Make way for Assange, the new 2dayFM DJ?

      It’s endless I tell you, endless…

    • Paul says:

      09:02am | 14/12/12

      “total and consistent disregard for, first, checking the veracity of the material it publishes, and then considering the results of that publication.”

      Here is where you are wrong (or don’t understand the meaning of veracity)... Wikileaks certainly authenticates the truth of the material it publishes.  If it was publishing rubbish people (and by that I mean Governments) wouldn’t be upset as they could campaign that the Wikileaks material was inaccurate.  Instead, even media organisations such as Newslimited are happy (where it suits) to accept the source as valid.

      I agree however with the second part of the statement… Their consideration of the results of the publication leaves alot to be desired.  That said, the same could be said of Austereo (Sandilands, Royal Prank etc.), 2GB (Cronulla Riots, lebanese hate speach etc.) and yes, even News Limited (Brett Stewert, nude photos of Pauline Hanson etc).

      @ Penbo - Wikileaks makes different editorial decisions to the mainstream media.  You can’t just say “we don’t agree with your decisions so now you aren’t a media organisation”. Do you say the same about Al Jazeera?  Did the reindeers say the same about Rudolph?  To try to differentiate the way you have makes you look like a fool.

      Disclaimer: I will not be voting for Assange - But I do think that nobody has yet fielded a strong (or even valid) argument about Wikileaks not being a media organisation… And the irresponsibility of making such statements is breathtaking (ie. you could get someone killed with that).

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      09:18am | 14/12/12

      Exactly Hammy.

      So Penbo wants to bat for two scumbag media personalities who willingly conducted a malicious prank call to a hospital to steal medical information from a private individual to make public, despite being informed that was against Australian law, for no reason than entertainment.
      BUT, he absolutely despises a person who publishes information stolen from a public body, that has some public importance beyond giving bogans a chuckle?

      Then again it makes sense; media bullies stand up for their own, but are afraid of media competitors who might possibly air THEIR dirty secrets rather than invade the privacy of random nurses or some guys’ pregnant wife.

    • Sync says:

      09:40am | 14/12/12

      Julian Assange…the new David Hasselhoff.

      Can we nickname him…Ass…?

      I never had a lot of regard for Assange or WikiLeaks…but his claims of persecution are, to me, shakier by the day as he remains in hiding in a foreign embassy in a foreign land while continuing to espouse his innocence of any wrong-doing. That he doesn’t even appear to acknowledge that his blatant disregard for sensitivity of information has CAUSED a lot of problems just makes his ground less stable, in my eyes.

    • John A says:

      10:09am | 14/12/12

      Hammy,
      I’m with you, perhaps Penbo could tell us if he believes our media checks all it’s stories?
      The number of times six months after a story comes out, so does the truth and our media is found to be wrong. .I can’t wait for all the facts to come out on our latest sad saga, I think the coroners report will be a Lu Lu.

    • marley says:

      10:38am | 14/12/12

      While I’m certainly not about to absolve the idiots at 2dayFM, I understand that the nurse left several suicide notes, one of which was about the prank call and another of which criticised the hospital and staff.  So, there’s probably going to be more to this story than the obvious.

    • hammy says:

      07:46am | 14/12/12

      I wonder why Q&A doesn’t understand that formula?  Maybe they think demonstrating they are out of touch with mainstream Australia is a useful endeavour.

    • Gordon says:

      08:01am | 14/12/12

      Mr Penberthy’s first paragraph gave me flashbacks of Karl Rove on election night disbelieving the Ohio result.

    • hammy says:

      09:08am | 14/12/12

      I appreciate your position Gordon, but I think the ratings reflect that right or wrongly mainstream Australia thinks Q&A is the lunatic fringe.

    • SZF says:

      09:46am | 14/12/12

      Not really hammy, I watch Q&A mostly because I enjoy the debate. The problem occurs when the debate descends into cheap political pointscoring and is dumbed down to the lowest common denominator. Sophia Mirrabella, Julian Assange, et al - I’m looking at you all. Raise your game please.

      Q&A is a great show, or could be - but it sometimes suffers from poor execution due to the calibre of guests they invite (often it would seem, for “shock value” to drive up ratings). I don’t want to see Barnaby Joyce froth away on the NBN, but I’ll listen to Malcolm Turnbull on the subject. I may not agree with him, but at least he can make an adult, objective argument.

      What’s the saying about fanatics? They refuse to shut up and can’t change the subject…

    • Jen says:

      10:11am | 14/12/12

      People who think they can identify the mythological “mainstream Australia” are often the same people who think that they “say it like it is”; that an appeal to common sense would make everything alright.

      They just can’t deal with complexity & contradiction.

    • Horthy says:

      10:29am | 14/12/12

      “Q&A is a great show, or could be - “

      There is definite skill and acuity in a host preventing their own predispositions from entering a debate. Tony Jones either does not possess or does not employ such skill.

    • egg says:

      10:34am | 14/12/12

      @Gordon, exactly what I was thinking… it’s dangerous to ignore reality in favour of your opinion.

    • PsychoHyena says:

      10:39am | 14/12/12

      What the hell is mainstream Australia? How deep do we look to find it? Is it a particular class of person? or do they have particular political leanings? Maybe they all have red hair and green eyes?

      If someone can define who and what mainstream Australia is without resorting to ‘Anyone that disagrees with Q&A cheering’ I would be happy.

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      12:06pm | 14/12/12

      @PsychoHyena
      Good point.

      Considering that we mostly only have under 2 million viewers for most prime-time programs each, if anything evidence suggests that mainstream Australia aren’t TV viewers in general.

    • Super D says:

      07:54am | 14/12/12

      If it costs the Greens a senate seat it can only be a good thing. My main though regarding Assange is what terrible timing. If only Australia had a conservative government he would be an absolute poster boy for Labor.

    • Jeffers says:

      09:05am | 14/12/12

      Except for the fact that he’s a conservative, your post makes sense.

    • Super D says:

      04:30pm | 14/12/12

      On what planet is Assange a conservative?

    • iansand says:

      08:01am | 14/12/12

      My (limited*) experience of the average Australian’s assessment of Assange can be summed up in one word “Wanker”.

      *Limited because who bothers talking about him?

    • Knemon says:

      08:27am | 14/12/12

      The Age did a poll a few days back “would you vote for Assange” 72% of the nearly 20,000 respondents said they would. I wouldn’t hesitate in voting for him, he couldn’t possibly be any worse than what we currently have.

    • John says:

      09:05am | 14/12/12

      I would also vote for Assange, just for the shits and giggles if he got elected. But internet polls are worthless.

    • Borderer says:

      09:07am | 14/12/12

      Knemon,
      It’s exactly that sort of thinking that brought us so many Green senators last election. While I agree that our major parties need to lift their games I don’t see the sense in burning the house down to do it. Vote for too many fringe parties and then complain that the government has to suck up to said parties is just silly.
      It is however your vote and you may do with it as you will.

    • Right wing ratbag says:

      09:08am | 14/12/12

      I’d vote for Assange, but only if he passed the waterboarding test.

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      09:29am | 14/12/12

      Who would you vote for instead, and why would they be any better?

      For example, Gillard (AWU), Turnbull (funneling parliamentary perks toward his wife), Slipper (obvious), Fred Nile (got bribed to support Packer’s Casino), and most of all, Bob Carr (selling schools and hospitals to real estate, and selling infrastructure to MacBank so he could get a job there) are each far worse than having sex without a condom. Certainly Assange deserves a vote far more than any of the above.

      If Assange were to make a Wikileaks party, they’d easily get my vote- which, they again deserve far more than the Liberal Party, Labor, Nationals, Greens, Family First, or Christian Democrats.

    • Nostromo says:

      09:49am | 14/12/12

      @Knemon: Hear, hear! He has all the right qualities to be an utter bastard poli, except maybe he’ll safeguard some of our individual rights & liberties in the process. He absolutely, positively cannot be worse than the hack jobs we have pretending to govern now, while all they do is rack up more & more debt & dig us deeper & deeper into several shitholes at once!

    • egg says:

      10:41am | 14/12/12

      @iansand, people talk about him. And people will vote for him - if he manages to get this shit together.

      Assange FTW.

    • Knemon says:

      11:14am | 14/12/12

      @Borderer - If more people voted for the fringe parties, perhaps then, the major parties might start taking note and listen to the people, for too long the major parties have taken the voters for granted.

      “It is however your vote and you may do with it as you will”

      Thanks for that Borderer, it is a relief to know that I still live in a democratic society wink

    • The Phantom says:

      08:04am | 14/12/12

      Julian Assange’s standing for office may encourage a large number of people to show how disappointed they are in the behaviour of the Australian Government.
      The Wikileak’s Party could have more candidates than Julian himself in other states with policies on transparency, accountability, protection of individual surveillance on citizens and a foreign policy which is independent of the US policy which integrates Australia into the Asian region.
      It would be a ideal platform to get these messages out in a political situation. I think many Australians would be interested in these policies.

    • Toady says:

      08:55am | 14/12/12

      As if Australians care about all that bullshit.  Voters are only interested in how much money will be deposited in their bank accounts as a special bonus, or how large their welfare cheques will be.  Aside from poser uni students and the gay lobby, Assange will be lucky to get a handful of votes.

    • Borderer says:

      09:14am | 14/12/12

      Would that be like the same transparency that the ALP promised to deliver? Can you name one world government of any significance that does?
      I just think that the actual realities of government are far more complicated than the idealogies these Monday morning quarterbacks champion.

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      09:41am | 14/12/12

      @Borderer- Switzerland. And typically, countries with less transparency are proportionately more dysfunctional than those with more transparency.

      And the ‘realities’ are governments only need to keep secrets in the following areas;
      -Security monitoring practices, detective work and leads
      -Defense Forces actions, strategies, bases and equipment
      -Private data to ensure people cannot exploit their funding or commit data fraud/theft.
      Everything else the public has a right to know and furthermore, even the above three must be revealed to the republic as far as any scandal or crime occurring within them are concerned.
      Outside this, government only keeps secrets to save their own backsides from angry voters.

      If three years ago Wikileaks reported that Gillard before the last election had already planned to abandon her ‘no carbon tax’ promise and lie about it to get votes, and there was still time to tell everybody about it a few days before we voted, what would you do?

    • Chris L says:

      10:11am | 14/12/12

      I think you have a point Phantom. Since the destruction of the Democrats we have been bereft of a decent third choice to send our protest votes to (evidenced by the rise of the Greens). If there were a wikileaks party they wouldn’t get enough support to form a government or opposition, but perhaps enough for them to be able to challenge the standing organisation on matters of principle.

    • Borderer says:

      10:31am | 14/12/12

      A Concerned Citizen
      If three years ago Wikileaks reported that Gillard before the last election had already planned to abandon her ‘no carbon tax’ promise and lie about it to get votes, and there was still time to tell everybody about it a few days before we voted, what would you do?

      I’d actually stopped believing them already by this point and changed my vote to the LNP for the first time in my life but assuming I hadn’t I would have seriously considered doing so.

      The whole transparency thing is so subjective as well, people can avoid publishing scandals by making them security matters or only preparing draft or poorly detailed reports. PM Gillard simply didn’t make a file in relation to the AWU scandal, now there is nothing to either link her back to the wrong doing or similarly clear her of involvement and look how much fun we’re having as a result, now broaden this process accross whole government departments, again utter chaos.
      As I said, the practicalities of government doesn’t fit with the ideologies of Assange.

    • Mark says:

      11:43am | 14/12/12

      I’d vote for him, I would storm parliament house with him if it meant knowing someone, somewhere actually had the future of this planets human population at heart. As it stands, all I see is dollar signs on all sides of the political spectrum.

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      12:26pm | 14/12/12

      Borderer what you describe would likely happen, but it really has little impact on a democracy.
      For example, if Wikileaks leaked all of these scandals on every party with a lot to hide- they would be crippled, unable for any of the candidates involved to mount a campaign while being swamped under scandals.
      As a result, they wouldn’t get elected, and only people with no big scandals would get elected instead. This would benefit because aside from being more likely honest and competent, they would also actually spend more time governing and less time trying to maneuver themselves out of scandals.

      Keep in mind that Australian government effectively also includes the Voters, the Senate, the Courts, Administrative workers, and planning teams/consultancy firms- all we are missing is the executive to pass new policies, while the rest would all still be running Australia (just like in the ‘hung parliament’ crisis- nothing happened despite the executive being technically non-existent).

    • Toady says:

      12:28pm | 14/12/12

      Well, Mark, why don’t you storm Parliament House yourself?  Why be a coward and run in holding someone’s hand?  Start your own movement to save the human population.

    • Borderer says:

      01:44pm | 14/12/12

      A Concerned Citizen
      All this is fine, we now then face a situation where either Assange or one of his party members face a damaging scandal and their off hiding in an embassey or not publishing a damn thing which would put him slap bang in the same league as our existing political parties.
      Your expectation that his stand would continue once inside parliment is naive. On the ouside of parliment with zero to lose and everything to gain by exposing information, inside the parliment is the exact opposite. By voting him into the senate you have him on the path to stop being what you most like about him. Look what they did to Peter Garret.

    • Tubesteak says:

      01:51pm | 14/12/12

      Toady
      I am neither a uni student or gay and I like those policies
      If they also bring in a policy to abolish all middle-class welfare then I will never vote for anyone else

    • Mark says:

      02:30pm | 14/12/12

      What would storming a defended premises by one’s self achieve, Toady? A coward I may be, a fool I am not.
      Peace and love hombre

    • andye says:

      02:33pm | 14/12/12

      @Borderer - I don;t think they did plan to have a carbon tax before the election. I don’t think they planned on having to compromise to form government, either.

    • Borderer says:

      03:59pm | 14/12/12

      @andye
      @Borderer - I don;t think they did plan to have a carbon tax before the election. I don’t think they planned on having to compromise to form government, either.

      Not even considering that. He was a champion of indigeneous rights and the environment when fronting Midnight Oil. Stick him in a suit, give him a portfolio and bam, he’s absolutelty no different to any other party member toeing the line. Is that whar you want for Mr Assange?

    • Gratuitous Adviser says:

      08:11am | 14/12/12

      You are right regarding Q&A.  I like the principle of the show but the cheer squads are embarrassing and contrived.

      Assange’s strategic mistake was looking at Ecuador as the bastion of freedom in our time.  Because his base claim was strong, he should have gone to Sweden and either got off or become a martyr.

      Wikileaks was a great organisation that was sabotaged, with the acquiescence of the American financial institutions, by the American government.  Think about that the next time you use VISA or EBay.  I must say that I would have expected this from Bush but I was surprised that this strategy was used by Obama and Clinton.

    • lostinperth says:

      08:41am | 14/12/12

      Why are you surprised that the strategy was used by Obama.? Assange and Wikileaks exposed US agents while they were undercover and the country was at war. It wasn’t an attack on the Republican party, it was an attack on the USA.  And the leaders of the USA acted to defend their country and it’s assets. They could hardly do otherwise.

      Did you honestly expect them to say “thank you for exposing our agents and putting their lives at risk”?

      Assange wanted to play with the big boys and found out that they play hard and fight back. He should have gone to Sweden instead of running for cover like a coward with something to hide.

    • FINK says:

      09:45am | 14/12/12

      @lostinperth,
      Keep towing to the government’s propaganda machine but don’t get your head out of the sand to quickly, you may not like what you see.
      But please by all means tell me the names of the agents he exposed, if it is such common knowledge. Also I thought the supposed agents were operating in Israel, Jordan and Iran to his date I am unaware of any war in these countries.

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      12:33pm | 14/12/12

      Lostinperth I’m curious, I keep hearing about these ‘undercover agents’ but I’ve never seen it in the papers. Perhaps you could tell me if any papers ever did mention this occurring?

      I have however read in the papers that;
      -Saudi Arabia lobbying the USA to attack Iran
      -USA stealing data from UN diplomats
      -Helicopters shooting civilians in Iraq
      -Corruption if Afghani governance and doubts on success of winning Afghanistan described by US strategists

      Now I don’t know about you, but I certainly don’t to go to war with some crazy country just because a dictator of a neighboring country that is just as bad asked us to, and to stay in Afghanistan with such a damning assessment made, so I think Wikileaks has done us a favor. Had we have acted on these two things, our operatives wouldn’t even be there.

    • NESLIHAN KUROSAWA says:

      08:41am | 14/12/12

      Hi David,

      Mr Assange is so much like most of you journalists trying to shed some kind of light on the dark areas of life, right?  And the actual footage of US marines shooting Iraqis, some of them wounded may have been gruesome for some.  However wasn’t it the piece of reality very much like those Abu Ghraib prison torture footage way back?  Are you agreeing that what the Americans did was actually too horrible to mention for words or not?  People say that “everything is fair in love and war”.  But fighting wars always have to be on equal terms ideally.  Shooting innocent wounded civilians and torturing so called prisoners sounds far too sick for my personal taste. 

      Would we enjoy the same kind of torture in the Australian prison system?  Absolutely NO.  Anyway surely we have all learnt a great deal from fine pieces of journalism through out the history all thanks to great journalists risking their lives on a daily basis.  I just wanted to say that war isn’t the answer we have been looking for all along.  Apart from all that I personally feel that Mr Assange and Ms Gillard may have so much more in common than we might have all realized all along.

      They have both been through the wringer time and time again including their careers have been through turbulent and testing times, indeed!  And guess what they are still standing, a bit like the popular Elton John song way back.  No matter what others say we should all agree that Mr Assange and Ms Gillard have a very strong will to survive and why not?  It is the survival of the fittest in the real and the world of the politics, right?  I am also certain that they can handle more of what is thrown in their direction.

      Except for one major difference Mr Assange has gotten in to so much trouble for telling the truth and it has hurt his image and caused so much pain to his family.  Can we all agree on one thing that politicians like Ms Gillard have gotten into so much trouble for the exactly opposite which happens to be not telling the whole truth.  So at the end of the day can members of the public be forgiving and kind to people to who speak the ultimate truth or the manufactured version of the truth?  Surely we all know so much better now. Kind regards.

    • Marty says:

      08:41am | 14/12/12

      ” the fact that makes WikiLeaks different from a media organisation is its total and consistent disregard for, first, checking the veracity of the material it publishes, and then considering the results of that publication.”

      You obviously haven’t read The Telegraph or the Australian in revent years
      .

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      12:41pm | 14/12/12

      I see what you did there Marty- I don’t think Penbo is going to say a bad word about his own employers now is he?

      But Penbo, when have you ever ‘checked the veracity’ before making any of your articles? And for your information Wikileaks actually DOES do these things. Perhaps having someone provide direct transcripts of copies of source matieral actually makes you worry for your job of making stuff up?

      For someone to insist on ‘checking veracity’ you sure aren’t very good at reporting even the basic facts accurately.

    • Bloooody Labor!!!! says:

      08:49am | 14/12/12

      When they make a real life Simpsons movie he can play the spelling bee judge.

    • hammy says:

      09:33am | 14/12/12

      aye yi yi!

    • AdamC says:

      08:50am | 14/12/12

      As I stated on the open thread yesterday, the Julian Assange show has well and truly jumped the shark. It is time for Assange to turn himself in to British authorities and face the music for skipping bail.

      BTW, did anyone notice that accused sex offender, and former Hey Dad star, Robert Hughes, was extradited to Australia for questioning and was only charged on arrival? Admittedly not being an expert in comparative extradition laws, that seems pretty similar to what the Swedes want to do with Assange. That is, extradite him for questioning before deciding whether to charge him.

      As for the concern about whether Assange may be extradited to the US to face espionage charges, why not? If the Americans can make the case that Assange breached US laws, he should have to face justice. (I suspect this will depend on what comes out about Assange’s role in encouraging - or not encouraging - Bradley Manning to leak the relevant information.)

    • James1 says:

      09:28am | 14/12/12

      Neither Australia nor Sweden can extradite him to the US if he faces espionage charges, because that carries a death penalty in the US, and neither country will extradite people to places where they could face the death penalty.  Neither will the UK, for that matter.

      That whole argument being made by Assange and his supporters is utter rubbish.  He doesn’t want to go the Sweden for reasons other than his alleged fear that the Swedes will send him to the US, and as such Assange and his supporters are being fundamentally dishonest.

    • marley says:

      09:43am | 14/12/12

      @James1 - I would have to differ with you on that one.  The EU will not extradite to a country if the death penalty is on the table;  however, if the Americans take the death penalty off the table, then Assange could in theory be extradited to face espionage charges.

      There are plenty of precedents for this sort of thing:  the Americans have waived the death penalty in extraditing accused murderers from Canada on several occasions.

    • AdamC says:

      09:55am | 14/12/12

      James1, could that not be overcome by American prosecutors agreeing not to pursue the death penalty?

      Again, my knowldge of these matters is limited, but I cannot imagine there is no work-around for the death penalty issue. How would that work with murderers, etc?

      I do agree, however, that Assange supporters were always quite evasive about why they fought their man’s extradition to Sweden. I did not believe their stated rationale in the slightest.

    • James1 says:

      10:23am | 14/12/12

      I must admit, I didn’t even think of that.

    • FINK says:

      10:30am | 14/12/12

      There is already a cell in Guantanamo Bay with his name in neon on it, left vacant by some other Aussie.

    • maria says:

      08:52am | 14/12/12

      Make way for Gillard and Tony , the political stuntpeople

      “What Australian citizens want to know who do they represent?”

      Have they been elected to serve the people when they are cut off from real world, manipulate the truth, enrich themselves at the tax payers

    • Li says:

      09:02am | 14/12/12

      hmmmm ... “more like an egotist and a narcissist”  I don’t know, sounds like he’ll fit right in. Could he really be any worse than what we have now?

    • RobJ says:

      09:07am | 14/12/12

      “You take any issue that receives wild and spontaneous applause from the Q&A crowd, reverse it, and then you know exactly what mainstream Australia is thinking.”

      What does mainstream Australia watch on the TV, which books do they read? Newspapers? Magazines? what do they download from iTunes? My point? mainstream Australia aren’t necessarily correct, for example News Ltd boasts that Andrew Bolt is Australia’s most read blogger.. LOL

    • I hate pies says:

      10:45am | 14/12/12

      Good point Rob. Clearly those that hold views such as the Q&A crowd are smarter than the rest, and are right; everyone else is wrong…Can I take a guess at your ideologies? I thought so…must be difficult putting up with all those imbeciles all the time.

    • RobJ says:

      12:17pm | 14/12/12

      “must be difficult putting up with all those imbeciles all the time.”

      I don’t have a problem with them just stating the obvious that the ‘mainstream’ isn’t always right or something to be proud of, another example - look at the fuss the mainstream media is making over the unfortunate suicide in the UK of this nurse??

      What point are you trying to make?

      “Can I take a guess at your ideologies?”

      Go for it.

    • marley says:

      12:52pm | 14/12/12

      @RobJ - I think the point is, that it doesn’t matter whether the mainstream is right or wrong, it just matters that they have more votes than the Q&A crowd.

    • peter says:

      09:11am | 14/12/12

      The Q and A cheer squad consists of green inner city lefties who erupt with applause anytime the words Labor, Green, Carbon Tax, Gay marriage are used, and boo and jeer when ever Abbott, liberal or border protection is mentioned

    • Poita says:

      09:36am | 14/12/12

      I’d like to see what his policies would be. He might even be properly left rather than like the chardonnay socialist pigs that control the left at the moment.

      And he’s certainly got guts so he might even be prepared to make tough decisions rather than just maintain the status quo for the rent seekers.

      Q&A makes me want to see the ABC nuked. They act like they talk about tough issues but just pussy foot around smoke screen issues like all the other media companies.

    • Garry says:

      09:54am | 14/12/12

      I think you are so wrong Penbo but accept your opinion, I have had a great sense of distate over some of the Punch comments regarding the prank but as a reader I am happy to read and vote (debate). With Julian Assange and as an ex military person (none Austrlian forces) I have a distate for some of the information if it puts others in harms way. Yet I have come to think civilised people should have civilised opinions from wherever they come.

      Wikileaks should not be hunted down unless actual proof of wrong doings are found in an international court (as they are international).

      I would like to see a Senator Assange, it will add to the discussion, the removal of a two sided idiotic debates we are having with the two leading parties at the moment.

      I think anyone who wants to be should be allowed to stand up and be voted for if people believe in them, neither person, party or voter should be laughed at.  Democracy in action, don’t you think?

      This debate reminds me of a Tom Clancy book, made into a movie that had the line ‘A little revolution now and again is a good thing, don’t you think’ .

      Albeit a peaceful one, having a wikileaks party built on truth and no hidden secrets sounds to me a very democratic thing. Sure we must have some secrets to safeguard life but if they kill, commit horrors, or hurt our own people. I hope we have people who stand up and ask the question of our leaders.

    • Nostromo says:

      10:46am | 14/12/12

      Sorry to contradict myself in advance by posting in reply Garry, but I think we can pretty much close this article for comments with that final one from yourself mate wink.

    • Kipling says:

      10:46am | 14/12/12

      So it seems to me Penbo that from your article you only partially support the ideals of freedom of the press. I always thought it might be an all or nothing deal.

      As to research, or lack thereof, Wikileaks would not be alone in anyway if they poorly researched or did not check facts - that is such a common occurance now days that it was somewhat inept, neigh, hypocritical even for you to raise that as an issue.

      Finally, it is no surprise that a MSM hack would have issue with anything ABC really.

    • tez says:

      10:58am | 14/12/12

      WikiLeaks different from a media organisation is its total and consistent disregard for, first, checking the veracity of the material it publishes, and then considering the results of that publication.
      So the material has not been modifies or considered if it is going to be denificial to any particular person or party?

    • Tchom says:

      11:00am | 14/12/12

      Most of what you hear about Assange these days is distracting observations on his character - Assange is crazy, Assange is egotistical, Assange is narcissistic. The media is enamoured by his character, painting him as either a hero or villain (albeit this is exacerbated by his own bizarre behaviour). What people aren’t interested in talking about the morality of wikileaks.

      Is the only problem a negligent absence of editing? Would US senators be calling for Assange’s execution if Wikileaks had only published the public interest material, such as US troops opening fire on civilians?

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      12:46pm | 14/12/12

      If Wikileaks focused on every country BUT America, they’d probably call him a hero.
      But because he leaks about every country INCLUDING America (despite the fact that America is founded on open press), he’s suddenly a terrorist.

    • Anubis says:

      11:04am | 14/12/12

      Penbo - you destroyed your credibility with the first sentence of this article “There is no more reliable indicator of mainstream opinion in Australia than the ABC program Q&A”

      About the only other show on Australian TV that is as biased as Q&A would be The Bolt Report - even the bias of these two shows is at opposite ends of the spectrum. How can you, by any stretch of the imagination, consider Q&A to be a reliable indicator of mainstream Australia? It just aint possible

    • hammy says:

      11:21am | 14/12/12

      Perhaps if you had of read past the first sentence and made it to the next two, you would see that you agree with Penbo.

    • Jen says:

      11:27am | 14/12/12

      Fail. Try reading the second sentence.

    • iansand says:

      11:25am | 14/12/12

      Could someone take a moment to read the second and third sentences out aloud to Anubis?

    • Bear says:

      11:26am | 14/12/12

      Yet q&a always have token righties. Countless right leaning radio shows and Bolt NEVER allow a scrap of dissent.

    • marley says:

      12:23pm | 14/12/12

      @Bear - well, but the ABC is supposed to be unbiased, neutral, speaking to and for all Australians - how does putting up what you yourself describe as “token righties” fit in with that mandate?

    • bailey says:

      02:27pm | 14/12/12

      poor marley
      He’s been getting his info from The Telegraph and The Australian for so lomg, he thinks they are unbiased.

      From where you sit on the right wing fringe marley, I’m not surprised the centre looks like the left. You are no different than the other one-eyed conservatives on the punch.

    • marley says:

      04:02pm | 14/12/12

      @bailey - kindly show me where I have ever said the Telegraph or the Australian were unbiased. 

      And just so you know, a strong belief in free speech and a free press is not generally regarded as evidence one belongs to the “right wing fringe.”

    • CJ says:

      11:19am | 14/12/12

      The very worst aspect of Q&A (of which I’m a rusted-on fan) is the Twitter feed running across the bottom of the screen. It’s just another outlet for wankers to wank their wanky contributions. If Catherine Deveny or Joe Hildebrand aren’t on the panel themselves, then you can bet they’re sitting at home desperately dreaming up “clever” Tweets to post (cos’ the obviously never got enough attention as children). Then there are the garden variety, Joe Public wankers who Tweet such asinine rubbish as “Oooh, Dawkins v Pell. Grabs popcorn.”
      So, to all you Q&A Twitter poseurs, go and get ....

    • Ando says:

      11:54am | 14/12/12

      I have had to train myself not to read the twitter comments. Infuriating.

    • Greg says:

      11:37am | 14/12/12

      He won’t make it out of the embassy alive. My prediction is Assange will be just like Mehran Nasseri the Iranian refugee who lived at Terminal One in Charles de Gaulle Airport from 26 August 1988 until July 2006.

      The only way Assange will leave the embassy is to go to Sweden in handcuffs and face the questioning or in a ambulance to the hospital for some illness, which means he will going to Sweden upon recovery and on then to Club GITMO for some water sports. Personally, I thing he’s a traitor and if I met him on the street I would deck him.

      You have more chance of winning a senate seat Pembo.

      By the way have you been invited back to AJ’s for morning tea yet?

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      12:52pm | 14/12/12

      So Greg, if someone upholds two of our democratic freedoms (freedom of press, and freedom of information) they are a “traitor” whom you would attack?

      Are you sure you are supporting Australia? You would perhaps be more patriotic in a country where people weren’t allowed to vote, than in a democracy, I’m afraid.

    • Craig says:

      11:50am | 14/12/12

      Penny, you don’t have a high moral ground to stand on as a media organisation. News remains in all kinds of troubles in the UK, has made a series of bad calls in Australia & you’re busy sacking investigative journos, replacing them with opinionistas.

      I reckon News need to look at its own backyard before it tries to criticise the neighbours.

      BTW you don’t speak for the ‘broader community’ either - but attempt to portray you do all the time.

      And it wasn’t Wikileaks that released names unredacted. These were released by Guardian journalists in a book providing the password to an encrypted Wikileaks ‘protection’ file. But then truth has never been your forte.

      I wonder if wikileaks an its ilk scares you. The only difference between you and any other citizen is that you have the backing of a major news outlet. Your writing quality, factualness and insights are no better than the work of many people who operate blogs and other online channels - and much worse than many of them.

    • Craig says:

      11:52am | 14/12/12

      Penny, you don’t have a high moral ground to stand on as a media organisation. News remains in all kinds of troubles in the UK, has made a series of bad calls in Australia & you’re busy sacking investigative journos, replacing them with opinionistas.

      I reckon News need to look at its own backyard before it tries to criticise the neighbours.

      BTW you don’t speak for the ‘broader community’ either - but attempt to portray you do all the time.

      And it wasn’t Wikileaks that released names unredacted. These were released by Guardian journalists in a book providing the password to an encrypted Wikileaks ‘protection’ file. But then truth has never been your forte.

      I wonder if wikileaks and its ilk scares you. The only difference between you and any other citizen is that you have the backing of a major news outlet. Your writing quality, factualness and insights are no better than the work of many people who operate blogs and other online channels - and much worse than many of them.

    • encee says:

      11:53am | 14/12/12

      I really had to giggle at this line:

      “But the fact that makes WikiLeaks different from a media organisation is its total and consistent disregard for, first, checking the veracity of the material it publishes, and then considering the results of that publication”.

      I work in a government media unit. When I am contacted by a journalist for a response on something - which is always provided well before deadline - more often than not when the story is published it is clear the journo completely ignored the information I provided.

      God forbid the truth should get in the way of a good yarn.

    • Gordon says:

      03:03pm | 14/12/12

      Ask people about that one time the media got hold of something they know about personally. The response will be “it came out all pear-shaped”.  The truth is rarely a “story”...a simple tale of heroes and villians and the good guy winning in the end. Force reality into that framework and you get the adversarial BS we cope with daily.

    • harry says:

      12:26pm | 14/12/12

      I thought the role of members of the Senate was to protect the rights of the states. Julian Assange is very big on this. Isn’t he ?

    • A Concerned Citizen says:

      12:57pm | 14/12/12

      Do you notice that Penbo is trying hard to combine Wikileaks and the Qanda show together?

      If I didn’t know better, it’s like Penbo wants to think that anybody who supports Wikileaks is some kind of trendy left-wing type.
      Sorry, I’m quite conservative and I support Wikileaks because being informed about government is what makes a functioning democracy.

    • Greg says:

      05:27pm | 14/12/12

      Conservative and supporting Assange? I assume you mean sexually or emotionally. This type of political juxtaposition is far to sophisticated for someone who would claim to be conservative and frankly mind blowing.

    • Oracle says:

      01:07pm | 14/12/12

      Penbo, gives PC another suckerpunch, yes the QA crowd are heavily tested beforehand, it’s sickening that it is paid for with public money. What happened to diversity of tohught and representing all Australians (especially the mainstream)?

    • Kipling says:

      02:33pm | 14/12/12

      The only trouble with this analysis is that Q and A does in fact represent all sides and fairly consistently one side is left wanting, the main stream apparently don’t like being left wanting….

    • Bruno says:

      01:54pm | 14/12/12

      dissidents in <insert country>, resulting in their harassment by their repressive governments

      forced an <insert country> <occupation> to flee his home, escaping from <insert country> to <insert country>, after being the subject of government threats once his identity and activities were revealed.

      didn’t know you were such a staunch assange supporter

    • Bear says:

      01:57pm | 14/12/12

      The righties hate q and a so because it’s the only non right leaning show in ALL electronic media. It soooo unfair that you have a 99 to 1 balance!

      @marley ALL media is meant to be neutral! Yet you have blatant cheer squad newspapers and radio in droves. In comparison to those the ABC is balanced.

    • marley says:

      04:10pm | 14/12/12

      @Bear - I disagree. Media has never been neutral.  Since the earliest days of pamphleteering, the press has always reflected the political and social biases of its owners and its publishers.  If you read the Times of London and the Guardian on some particular political happening, you will get two different versions, each one reflecting the bent of the owners.  My gripe with the ABC is that it doesn’t reflect its owners (ie us) all that well.  Of all the media, it is the one that ought to be the most broad-based and the most balanced;  instead it sees itself not as a balance but as a counterbalance to the right wing papers.  Leave that to The Age or the SMH.

    • Frostie says:

      02:47pm | 14/12/12

      There is definately room for a new political party and the timing is perfect as the current crop of politicians from all of the current parties are nothing but deceitful liars at best. We have a government with no mandate, a PM who was not elected, MP’s that have changed sides from what they were elected on and Independents that can be bought at any turn. The whole damn lot need to be scrapped and banned from political life.

    • Bear says:

      03:58pm | 14/12/12

      If you’re an independent you’re not elected on a ‘side.’ in fact it would have been less democratic had they installed Abbott because two men would have chosen to change govts when the opposition didn’t achieve the numbers.

    • A. Scott says:

      03:39pm | 14/12/12

      Has everyone missed the point here? Despite the fact that he may fancy himself as a Senator, the main objective here is diplomatic immunity. He could then walk out of the embassy unhindered.

    • marley says:

      04:04pm | 14/12/12

      Getting himself elected to the Senate wouldn’t give him diplomatic immunity.

    • Luc Belrose says:

      03:54pm | 14/12/12

      Guess who gives oxygen to these dissenting characters? The media. Without the media they would not be able to conduct quasi political campaigns.

    • Jo says:

      05:20pm | 14/12/12

      One gets a view looking both ways through the window pain.

      I agree with Wikileaks putting people in danger, putting a lot of things in dange, especially institutional stability.

      But a lot of what Wikileaks has done is good.

      One thing I agree with is that the QandA crowd and people who tweet on the show are so far removed from reality they are a talking pretzel with their head up their ass.

      One year of uni makes everyone feel like they know everything.

    • Sick of lies says:

      05:55pm | 14/12/12

      On topic;
                Australia needs another political party. Labour is incompetent, Libs are smarmy bent little paedophiles, greens are simply insane. Democrats dissapeared up their own backsides. There is no sane choice at election time. Wikileaks party will probably be no different, however, choice of lead nut bag is paramount. Bring it on.

 

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