Q And A
There were two Q and As last night. The first Q and A went for about 45 minutes and consisted of two intelligent politicians and two intelligent economists having a civilised policy discussion about Australia’s economic future. It made for a refreshing break in the political mudslinging and brought about a sense of wistfulness.
The second Q and A was about 20 minutes long and was a whole other kettle of fish. It could have done with a bit of mudslinging.
The two “elephants in the room”, Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Turnbull, went head-to-head on the Q and A panel last night, with Heather Ridout and Judith Sloan thrown in for some policy heft, presumably to keep the pollies honest.
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Sophie Mirabella is copping it this morning because unlike Greg Combet (Clark Kent anybody?) she didn’t rush to the aid of Simon Sheikh when he collapsed next to her on the Q and A desk last night.
Visually it didn’t look great. As the Get Up! director slumped forward unconscious the Shadow Industry Minister appeared to recoil. It was certainly an odd moment. Climate Change Minister Combet, who was mid-sentence, expressed the confusion everyone would have felt when Sheikh (who is ok, thankfully) first connected head with desk. “I’m not quite sure what Simon’s doing there. Is he okay? I think… he’s not okay. Simon is not okay,” Combet said, before going to Sheikh’s aid.
Mirabella’s inaction was for a just a few short seconds, but from the reaction you would think the woman had poisoned the political activist’s glass of water.
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Lots of young women revere Germaine Greer for all that she has achieved in the name of the women’s rights movement.
Lately, many of these same young women have been looking to Greer, and others of her ilk, for a fresh approach to the women’s movement of the future. For a new path that feels right in our new world where, for many of us, times have changed. A new feminism, if you like.
Last night’s Q and A performance proved one thing: Greer’s no longer our woman. After a few minutes of solid and complimentary assessment of Gillard’s struggle for leadership, and policy initiatives, Greer took an extraordinarily shallow, un-sophisticated and un-intelligent shot at the size of the PM’s backside and the poor cut of her jacket.
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There’s a hilarious saga going on over an empty chair on tonight’s Q and A panel.
The ABC last week booked ALP powerbroker Mark Arbib for tonight’s show, but this evening Julia Gillard’s office pulled the NSW Senator from the show, and offered up backbencher David Bradbury instead.
The Q and A producers politely but indignantly told the PM’s office to bugger off. In the grand scheme of things it’s worth remembering it’s just a TV show, but in the absence of any concrete details out of Canberra tonight it’s set off a bit of a storm.
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As these things go, Julia Gillard’s appearance on Q&A was pretty much a slam dunk.
She looked prime ministerial. She was poised, witty, and showed a command of a range of policy. Importantly, Gillard steered clear of excessively negative attacks on Coalition leader Tony Abbott who, when he appears on the show next week, will need to change his tone from his campaign launch themes of assassination, toxicity, waste and immaturity.
The Q&A performance showed (again) that Gillard is at her best when she’s off the leash, as she was in her press conference the day after that cabinet leak about her querying the paid parental leave scheme. The forum gave her space to outline her plans for government and she handled well some curly questions on mental health spending and her own family status. She also spoke for all Australians when she inferred that Mark Latham was a tool of immeasurable proportions.
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Update 12.35pm: Stephen Fielding has just told The Punch that he was mistaken when he claimed on Q&A that Kevin Rudd did not believe in evolution. A number of commenters have attacked the PM below off the back of Fielding’s claims but the Senator says: “I made a mistake. I thought I had read it somewhere but obviously I didn’t, I apologise to the Prime Minister for the mistake.”
We now know courtesy of Monday’s excellent episode of Q&A that when Stephen Fielding and Kevin Rudd first met the PM pulled a Bible out of his top pocket and gave an impromptu sermon. It’s not clear which passage Rudd read although we can presume it wasn’t Ezekiel 25:17 - “I will strike you down with great vengeance and furious anger and you will know then that I am the Lord” - tempting as it may have been for the PM to pass the ETS by popping a cap in the Christian Senator’s ass.
I am not a violent person either but there was something about the creeping Jesus quality of Monday night’s show that had me wanting to kick a hole in the plasma, wondering angrily whether anyone can remember the French Revolution and the quaint conviction that the Church is over there, the State is over here, and never the twain shall meet.
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It’s fairly clear to anyone who watched Kevin Rudd on the ABC’s Q & A this week that a group of young Australians very succinctly exposed the shallowness and symbolism that underpins much of Labor’s “policy” argument.
These young people displayed a healthy scepticism and an ability to see through polly-speak that many of our national journalists could learn a thing or two from. Indeed, in the aftermath, some journalists seem almost shocked by Rudd’s inability to clearly answer a question which isn’t scripted and for which he has not been briefed.
(Despite the embarrassing prelude of the “Ask the PM” Sunrise questions, which saw Rudd floundering.)
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