QandA Scorecard: Barnaby reigns supreme

19 March 2013

Written by: Eric George

Welcome to QandA scorecard, upstart’s weekly dissection of Australia’s premier political bloodsport. To run the rule over last night’s action, upstart’s political editor Eric George is joined by its benevolent dictator and editor, Liam Quinn. Together, they will determine the winners and losers from last night’s episode, and assign each contestant a score out of a possible 10 Tony Joneses.

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Jeremy Cordeaux
‘radio legend’/community tv host.


Eric George: It’s difficult to know where to begin with Cordeaux, who turned in one of the most bizarre cameos in recent QandA memory. The apparent journeyman of radio struggled to stay on topic throughout the night, with perhaps his most memorable contribution being an appraisal of Pope Francis as “a breath of fresh air”. I’m so confused, Liam.

1 Tony Jones out of 10.

Liam Quinn: Come on Eric, it might be our first crack at this, but lets not pull any punches. It’s easy to know where to begin, his hair – which itself was one of the most bizarre moments in QandA memory. Cordeaux looked like Donald Trump’s brunette half-brother. But, getting back on topic, it’s hard to really think of a positive impact he had on the overall discussion. He opened the show by raising his voice at unnecessary times, and bringing up Sydney radio from the 1960s was never going to fly. And, that pocket square…

1 Tony Jones out of 10.


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Senator David Feeney
Parliamentary Secretary for Defence


EG: Senator Feeney struggled throughout his debut as panellist. The most common mistake made by politicians on this program is to fight rhetoric with rational analysis. It never wins, and Feeney was the victim of countless Barnaby punch-lines as he tried to explain away Labor’s problems. To make matters worse, Tony Jones scented blood when the Senator struggled to explain Labor’s controversial proposed media reforms. Once the silver fox went into attack mode, Feeney’s night was over.

3 Tony Joneses out of 10.

LQ: You had to feel for Feeney throughout the night, who at times seemed like a rabbit caught in Barnaby Joyce’s headlights. Yet, despite being new to the format – and struggling to grasp the approach early on – I thought he was set to slink out of the studio with a pass mark. Which, considering the absolute shocker of a question he was dealt first up, would’ve been a very good result. Then TJ pounced, as if he were going in to bat for the entire industry threatened by potentially pending reform. If you were to swing by the ABC’s Sydney studios this morning, odds are the chalk outline of Senator Feeney will still be visible on the QandA carpet.

2.5 Tony Joneses out of 10.



Alannah MacTiernan
Former WA Labor Minister


EG: Liam, I’m struggling to decide how to score MacTiernan. She was arguably the most cunning of any panellist on the show, constantly diverting questions of Labor leadership back towards a discussion of long dead policies like the Emissions Trading Scheme. Alanah was also smart enough to realise that the Labor brethren to her right was getting pounded, and stay out of the line of fire. But she also immediately backed down from the comments that got her onto the show, and avoided saying anything noteworthy throughout the proceedings. Lukewarm.

5 Tony Joneses out of 10.

LQ: I agree, you never quite got a read on MacTiernan throughout the hour. With every question answered or comment offered, you could almost see the gears ticking over in her head, calculating the correct course of action. After coming out so strongly a little over a week ago, her relatively timid performance tonight seemed like some shady PR officers had got to her – sanitising her remarks for the night. After rocking the boat on March 9, she did everything in her power to avoid making waves last night. Even worse, she backed away from her remarks when pressed by the Silver Fox. If you’re going to make such a monumental statement, own it. The former minister didn’t do that.

4 Tony Joneses out of 10.


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Viv Benjamin –  CEO of the Oaktree Foundation


EG: The Ted Baillieu of tonight’s panel—she seemed too damn nice to survive in the ABC’s political thunderdome. When given the opportunity to speak, Benjamin wandered from one topic to another, and never found the strong conclusion that the audience hangs out for. The youngest member of the panel struggled to get a word in amongst her boisterous colleagues.

4 Tony Joneses out of 10

LQ: In the nicest possible manner, Benjamin seemed like the 16-year-old who finally gets invited to sit at the adult table over Christmas. She often had good things to say, and her knowledge and passion shone through overtly, yet due to being overexcited at the chance to finally talk to the grown ups she tried to get out all of her points in one go. What resulted was an oft-jumbled, disconnected traversing between points. Also, being sat next to Joyce wouldn’t have done anything to settle her nerves. But, she showed plenty, something that can’t be said for the majority of her cohorts on the night. Oh, and the Spiderman shout out warrants a half point bump.

6.5 Tony Joneses out of 10


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Senator Barnaby Joyce– Shadow Minister for Regional Development, Local Government and Water

EG: Looking at last night’s lineup of panellists, I was expecting a strong performance from Barnaby—the only experienced panellist on the show—and wasn’t disappointed. The format is perfect for the colourful Queenslander, and he was clearly comfortable throughout the evening. Time after time he steamrolled Feeney and MacTiernan, and having won over the audience with some early throwaway lines, he had a particularly easy night. I was disappointed that Tony didn’t do more to challenge Barnaby’s wild rhetoric, but Mr Jones was busy skewering Labor. Last night belonged to Senator Joyce, as I imagine that performance would have impressed even Tanya Plibersek—the reigning world champion of QandA.

9 Tony Joneses out of 10.

LQ: All hail Barnaby Joyce, King of the QandA realm. You’re spot on Eric, it’s hard to think of a format more suited to Joyce than this. He’s the perfect blend of politician and used-car salesman that dominates these short-burst discussions. Witty enough to make us laugh, politically versed enough to talk policy and trot out all the right talking points. Again, I think that TJ could’ve perhaps thrown a roadblock or two in the path of a rampaging Barnaby, but even the host knew that Joyce was the main draw of the night – meaning he benefited from a few superstar calls. Whether he was directly addressing a question, or murmuring loudly enough off camera to be heard, Joyce’s presence and impact was ubiquitous.

10 Tony Joneses out of 10.



Eric GeorgeTHUMBEric George is a postgraduate journalism student at La Trobe University, and the current politics and society editor of upstart. You can follow him at @ericpaulgeorge



Liam QuinnTHUMBLiam Quinn is a third-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University, and the editor of upstart. You can follow him on Twitter: @liamquinn23