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QandA Scorecard: Hidden Treasurers

After a special election debate edition of QandA last night, Liam Quinn and Tahlia McPherson hand of the TJs to Chris Bowen and Joe Hockey.

The QandA Scorecard is back for another week, with Liam Quinn being joined by upstart’s social media extraordinaire, Tahlia McPherson. Considering her portfolio, she guaranteed a tweet of ours would feature last night. It was a special edition of QandA, with the two men hoping to be Treasurer on September 8 squaring off.

bowenChris Bowen – Federal Treasurer




Liam Quinn: First off, I just want to say how glad I am we’re in Parramatta this evening; western Sydney has been somewhat forgotten this campaign for mine. But, once the show got on the road, it was amusing to see Bowen and Hockey agreeing with each other in the opening question, akin to boxers touching gloves before a bout.

But, then the dreaded “s” word was raised – surplus, for those playing along at home – and Bowen started swinging.

Triple-A ratings, recession avoidance, manageable debt; you know, the usual Labor comments. Which, in most ways are pretty accurate, but the problem is the public doesn’t seem to be buying what Bowen was out there slinging. And, although he was forced to bang his head against the wall in regards to repeating the economic stats of his party, he still managed to pull Hockey up when was required.

Tahlia, I’ll be honest, I like Bowen. It isn’t much of a stretch to consider him a leader of the party at some stage in the future. To reach such lofty heights, he needs to be a solid performer in these sort of situations; Bowen was just that tonight. Oh, and he gets an extra point for some poignant snark – one thing Bowen clearly understands is how crucial timing is to any humour, especially the dry type.

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Tahlia McPherson: I absolutely agree Liam. Although i’m only just getting to know him, I feel a soft spot for Bowen.

Even though the debate of the would-be treasurers started out far too even for my liking, due to a ridiculous time limit on responses, it didn’t take long to heat up.

Bowen argued his points clearly and despite often being over powered by Hockey on the volume front, he really knew what he was talking about. He had moments of strength, dishing out tough questions, but, I was disappointed to see him lose his voice midway through the program.

There came a point where Tony Jones, and even the audience, began interrogating Hockey and I almost forgot Bowen was in the room.

Nonetheless, the Treasurer finished strong. The timer was nowhere to be seen and both sides were piping up, having a true debate QandA style.

Bowen had Labor’s past to defend and a future to prove, whereas Hockey didn’t. It was like they were playing paintball and Hockey had double the ammunition. It is for this reason that I find it admirable that calm and collected Chris was able to keep his head above water and put on a solid performance.

While he may not have been louder, he was smarter and held Hockey’s ambiguity about figures and the future to account.

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hockeyJoe Hockey – Shadow Treasurer




LQ: Like him or not, Joe Hockey is a very smooth media operator. On the issue of surplus, he immediately went with the well-worn “some of you weren’t born last time Labor delivered a surplus” line, before throwing around some big words; spliced in with traditional opposition negative narratives. The most interesting comment in the opening salvo from Hockey was saying it’s “better to under-promise and over-deliver.” Depending on which way you took such a remark, you could read into that the Coalition perhaps could fudge the numbers slightly to accentuate economic performance.

It’d hardly be a new political move if they did so.

Tahlia, it was impossible to escape the feeling this was pretty much a free swing for Hockey last night. He was able to sit there and throw all the stones he wanted at Labor’s glass-house, completely aware he wasn’t bound by track record in the way Bowen was. Even when his government cohort engaged in a surplus version of “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours”, Hockey dismissed it with a sly laugh and a Gillard jibe.

However, he lost a bit of his gusto when half-stumbled through a “we don’t want to reveal the fi..” line, before Bowen pulled him up on it. Hockey was still very good, even if he was somewhat elusive with Coalition costing figures – but hey, we’re used to that by now.

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TM: Shadow treasurer… huh? For most of the show he was the one in the spotlight for much of the early going.

Consistent disregard for the timer and witty remarks saw Hockey steal the stage in last night’s QandA.

Although he’s got the entertainment side down-pat, many of Hockey’s answers were poorly argued or weren’t answers at all – rather diversions.

This is somewhat problematic in deciding who takes out the top spot.

One audience member was particularly dissatisfied with Hockey’s response, and Bowen was quick to jump on the band wagon with the discovery of weakness in his opposition.

His rambling about $900 cheques and cheap shot about carbon tax trust issues had me thinking that he had used all his extra ammunition and was running out of rebuttals. He was confident in the LNP’s past, but, vague about the future.

A further cause for concern was the sweat that began to emerge on Hockey’s top lip towards the pinnacle of the debate. I couldn’t decide whether the sudden moisture was due to the heat of the moment, his passion for surplus or his nervousness in what he was saying. So, to be safe a point deduction is in order.

Nonetheless, he held his own and his confidence all but filled the TV screen.

As far as the score goes, I can’t decide whether the winner should be the best QandA performance, or the winner of the debate itself?

So in honour of treasury night, I shall flip a coin.

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Liam Quinn is a third-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University, and upstart’s politics editor. You can follow him on Twitter: Quinn_LP

Tahlia McPherson is a third-year Bachelor of Journalism student at La Trobe University, and upstart’s social media editor. You can follow her on Twitter: @TahliaMcPherson

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