Bill McKibben – American Environmentalist
EG:I was concerned early on last night, when the outspoken environmentalist struggled to insert himself into the debate for almost half an hour. But in fact, the Californian was just pulling off one of the greatest rope-a-dopes in QandA history, waiting until the time was right before he unleashed his four-eyed fury on climate change deniers worldwide. He struggled to contain his surprise when Bernardi continued to mount a case against man-made global warming, and delivered a barrage of data over and over again. He may not have competed throughout the show, but when his time came, McKibben delivered some good zingers, and some comprehensive cross-examination of his colleagues. Solid stuff.
Liam Quinn: It’s pretty fitting ABC was showing When We Were Kings last night, because as you rightly pointed out Eric, McKibben rope-a-doped with such aplomb Ali himself would’ve blushed. However, I don’t think he picked his spots quite as cerebrally as you’ve suggested. Sure, he certainly made the most of a handful of easy openings, but I think it was his overriding logical approach that made him standout from something of a dull and dreary panel. And, yes, he looked like a puberty-striken teenager listening to someone make the case for Santa Claus being real when Bernardi tried to discredit climate change.
Michael Stutchbury – Editor-in-Chief of The Australian Financial Review
EG: I’m not sure why I keep getting excited over the presence of journalists on QandA; they continue to underdeliver in my opinion. Stutchbury joins a growing list (Carlton, Albrechtsen) of recent panellists who deliver far more demure answers than one would normally expect. Is this is a combination of a difficult job market, and what you, Liam, would term the #dontgetfired approach? Aside from a disappointing backflip when asked why his paper prints the names of deceased Aboriginals, and the strange assertion that our resource industry holds philanthropy at its heart, it was a pretty mediocre night for the editor. Cruising.
Liam Quinn: First point; perhaps I’m showing my – some would say, relative – youth here, but how does the editor-in-chief of an online publication not have a Twitter account? #getwiththetimesoldman. But, getting back on point, this was a largely confusing performance from Mr Stutchbury. We’ve said this before, but sitting on the fence won’t score you points in the Scorecard. Running the risk of over-hashtagging, more important in the Thunderdome rather than #dontgetfired, is #dontbeboring.
Eric, Stutchbury’s effort had me nostalgically thinking back to the performance of Sarah Hanson-Young earlier this season…a sentence I never thought utterable. Sorry Sarah.
Martha Wainwright – Canadian Singer – Songwriter
Eric George: Simply put, the best musician that the show’s seen for some time. I still say that the panel’s better served by people paid to yell at each other (politicians, journalists, whatever we’re calling Graham Richardson these days), but Wainwright delivered some good lines on the occasions that Tony turned the spotlight her way. She was always going to be relied upon to be the emotional representative on the night, and she came through with the goods. Despite failing to cry on queue when asked the blatant tear-jerker that closed out the show, she managed to come across as more engaging than the rest of the panel, who seemed pretty wooden last night. It was odd that Tony continued to ask her questions about American culture though. Although she is Canadian-American, the ABC titled her as Canadian, and she lives in Montreal. Not sure why she’s the go-to authority on Jackie Robinson’s career, TJ.
Liam Quinn: It seems since our stock photo was taken and she appeared last night, Wainwright artificially altered the colour of her locks – something I know all too well about. But, I uncomfortably have to agree with you again here Eric. Entertainers usually have a penchant to be more “miss” than “hit” when they are on the program, but Wainwright bucked the trend to a degree. The Jackie Robinson analogy struck me as a little odd also, it’d be akin to asking a Melburnian about the exploits of a Kiwi Rugby League player – albeit one of incredible societal importance. But, overall Wainwright was pretty good, even if she was pushed to the background a little.
Oh, and “former ALP powerbroker” seems to be what we’re going with for Graham Richardson.
Linda Burney – Indigenous MP
EG: The NSW Member for Canterbury was pretty well the ying to Bill McKibbon’s yang last night – starting off with a bang before putting her cue in the rack as the questions turned to environmental policy. She was forced to answer questions almost constantly early on as the discussion focussed on a variety of indigenous issues, and although she didn’t nail every answer, it was a very impressive performance. Ms Burney was emotive when she needed to be, but assumed an admirably rational approach when the thorny question of Muslim integration was broached. I was hoping for at least a few jabs at the colourful gentleman seated to her left, but all-in-all an admirable showing.
LQ: At the risk of mixing too many sporting metaphors, Burney was North Melbourne-esque last night. She started great, displaying the delicate mix of flair and substance required to light up the QandA stage – and subsequently, warm TJ’s heart – while still managing to stay on point for the most part. But, as the night went on, Burney seemed to run out of legs. But, the way she handled the series of indigenous questions was superb, and she didn’t disappear into her shell when forced out of her comfort zone by some of the later questions.
Cory Bernardi – Liberal Senator
EG: Another showing that was slightly more restrained than I had expected, Liam. I’d suggest that media training is starting to remove the controversy from QandA, but there is still smoke coming out of my right ear from where Mike Carlton’s discussion of oral sex burned itself into my brain. Although Bernardi may not have been as colourful as I hoped, he did give me something to work with. After all, who wants to give a thought to the concerns of indigenous Australians about the handling of those recently deceased when we have the quality of the nightly news to consider? We need out pictures of the Olympic closing ceremony! We need our celebration! More impressive, though, was the suggestion that we should be concerned about Islamic ideals compromising Australia’s separation of church and state. How else can we protect the Judeo-Christian values that this great nation was built upon. Credit to Bernardi for not taking Tony’s bait on a number of occasions, and trying to stick to the facts when he could. But the boos were deserved, I feel.
LQ: If I didn’t know any better, I’d have sworn there was a team of Liberal PR staffers furiously crafting the correct answers last night, before passing each one down the line to the Senator. Considering this is a man well known for comparing gay marriage to bestiality, he was largely understated and controlled. However, as is so often the way with any guests with a strong lean to either side of the equation, the controversial question of the night would be Bernardi’s undoing. If he would’ve had a voice in his ear – you know, other than his own – surely it would have told him to stop during his rambling answer/rant in regards to Islamic ideals.
Although, in all honesty, he’s walked away with one more point than I thought he would have had at the beginning of the night.