QandA Scorecard: Germaine’s still got it

9 April 2013

Written by: Eric George


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Deborah Cheetham – Indigenous opera singer



Eric George: I’m going to refrain from regurgitating last week’s argument against musicians appearing on the panel, and instead ask the question: do they invite too many guests? Every week there seems to be someone cut out of the discussion due to time constraints, as Cheetham was last night. Perhaps they should reduce the panel size to four, and avoid the awkward half hour which left the singer with little to do. When she did talk, Cheetham had a propensity to railroad the discussion back towards indigenous issues. I’m all for a discussion of these matters, but a bit of subtlety wouldn’t have gone astray.

3 Tony Joneses out of 10

Tara Watson: I agree, her position on the panel seemed optional. It was clear from the beginning that she was the ‘indigenous voice’ of the night, which while I think is very important, I do wish she engaged more in other topics. While I will give her credit for her attempts to steer a plethora of topics in the direction of indigenous affairs, her involvement was extremely limited and Tony struggled to include her. I don’t mind having the musicians on so much, at least her operatic number could send the audience to sleep after weathering through the thunderstorm that is Germaine Greer.

3 Tony Joneses out of 10.


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Dr. Brooke Magnanti – Research Scientist and Author – Belle de Jour



EG: Last night was a mixed bag for Magnanti. When discussing sex workers and modern femenism, she seemed on point and forthright. But as the discussion turned towards international politics, her rhetoric started to waver as her responses began to wander. I give Magnanti credit for being the only panellist on the night prepared to challenge a colleague’s response as she scolded Freedman over her belief that no girl grows up wanting to be a sex worker. But ultimately, she seemed to detached at times to really grab me.

4 Tony Joneses out of 10

TW: I was definetly not a fan. While her answers were long winded, they didn’t contain much of anything. A little too textbook-talk for my liking, and those kinds of responses don’t bode well on QandA. But she certainly had some interesting insights into being a sex worker, not to be confused with a ‘prostitute’ (bad Tony), and I think this is where she excelled. Overall, while she became a little more lively as the night progressed, I found her a bit flat, kinda like she was needed a nap.

3 Tony Joneses out of 10


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Mia Freedman – Mamamia founder and director


EG: Freedman was certainly the surprise of last night’s panel. Despite a history of working on particularly emotive journalism, she turned out a thoughtful, engaging performance. Although she wasn’t afraid to show her displeasure with input from both the panel and the audience, she did a terrific job of speaking to specific people when responding. Her approach throughout the night was an intimate one: her answers largely drew from personal experiences, and she consistently dealt with specific people through these answers rather than discussing broader concepts. Freedman understands how to play the QandA game, that much is clear.

8 Tony Jones out of 10.

TW: I completely agree. I must admit, she charmed me from the beginning. She has a very relateable, down-to-earth way about her, a stark contrast from Magnanti unfortunately. She acted as the every-day woman’s voice amongst a largely feminist rhetoric, to the point where I found myself longing for her next response. I will also applaud her for being the only panellist to actually define feminism in understandable terms, not getting caught up in feminist jargon some of the other ladies liked to indulge in.

9 Tony Jones out of 10.


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Germaine Greer – Feminist icon and provocateur



EG: Germaine Greer is simply a force of intellect and personality when she makes her occasional appearances on QandA, and last night was no different. An hour long discussion on gender issues was always going to be kind to her, but it was clear that she wasn’t afraid to expand her responses beyond the feminist sphere. She jumped from Thatcher’s patchy record to arguing for ugly nudity as activism with remarkable ease. But her closing statements-reminding the audience that feminism still had much ground to make up-that seemed to make the best impact. She still won’t let Gillard forget about those jackets though…

9 Tony Joneses out of 10.

TW: Germaine Greer was the star of the night and did not disappoint. While the feminist royalty was on point in all her answers, it was her kooky responses that I found enthralling. She definitely received the majority of laughs from the night. My favourite part of the whole episode of QandA by far was Greer’s celebration of the misogyny speech, to me it was the pivotal point of the night. This was her moment to take the stage and I was proud that she heralded the speech as the milestone in feminist discourse that it was. I also think she was embraced by the audience more then anyone else. What can I say- when Germaine is good, she is unstoppable.

10 Tony Joneses out of 10.


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Janet Albrechtsen – Opinion columnist for The Australian



EG: It was fascinating to watch the famously pugilistic Albrechtsen out of her normal political domain. Gone were the wild statements and aggressive stance that marked her previous appearances, instead replaced by a rational examination of modern feminism. Perhaps it was because the entire panel were essentially arguing for the same cause, but last night was a surprisingly genteel affair. The mask did slip briefly when the discussion turned to Julia Gillard’s performance as Prime Minister, but for the most part it was a refreshing to see a different side of Albrechtsen’s personality.

7 Tony Joneses out of 10.

TW: The right side of the panel certainly were lengths above their colleagues. While Albrechtsen was not the most likeable of panellists, she had a strong voice and a commanding presence. Acting as the conservative perspective of the night, she was brave to take on a largely leftist panel, so I can applaud her for that. She also acted as a good point of difference and she did attempt to stand up to Germaine Greer, and that is no easy feat.

6 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


Tara WatsonTHUMBTara Watson is a postgraduate journalism student at La Trobe University and is one of upstart’s staff writers. You can follow her on Twitter: @taraswatson