QandA Scorecard: Mutually assured embarrassment

30 April 2013

Written by: Eric George

Coordinator-Andrea (100x100)Andrea Mason – Co-ordinator of NPY Women’s Council


Eric George: I’ll keep this brief, rather than reiterate my ongoing concern about fringe panellists on QandA. Mason was rarely involved in the discussion, and when her pet topic (indigenous education) arose, she didn’t really seize the moment. She’s clearly deeply familiar with the subject material, but never really sold it to the audience on an emotional level.

3 Tony Jones out of 10.

Liam Quinn: Couldn’t agree with you more, Eric. Once again, Mason’s negligible involvement was indicative of the way these add-on panelists fade into the background, lost amidst the painfully political rhetoric that spews from the dominant members of the panel. However, as you pointed out, when she got a question right in her proverbial wheelhouse, Mason didn’t take the swing. To ditch the baseball analogy, Andrea Mason took a grab 20 metres out, only to shin it out of on the full.

3 Tony Jones out of 10.


jamie-briggs-mp (100x81)Jamie Briggs – Coalition Spokesperson on Scrutiny of Government Waste


EG: We often lament a lack of full-blooded debate in these scorecards, but trust me Briggs, I never wanted this. Rather than sell opposition policy platforms during his answers, the coalition scrutineer took every opportunity to attack Mark Butler. It’s good television to play the man at some points during a debate, but sprinkling in some substantial arguments amongst the ad hominems also helps. Too nasty for my liking. If this was professional wrestling (and I often wonder if that’s the tone the ABC aspires towards with this program), he’d have been disqualified early in the fight. With that in mind, Liam, ZERO POINTS.

0 Tony Jones out of 10.

Liam Quinn: In the spirit of Briggs’s performance last night, I was tempted to cut off your point midstream, only to launch into my own seemingly confused chain of thought. We could talk about how Briggs tried to bully other panellists; how he played the coalition attack-dog role with terrifying aplomb; how he did everything that a newly media-savvy Tony Abbott has tried to avoid in the past twelve months. But, really, that’d be giving Briggs’s style – and dare I say it, demeanour – too much oxygen. To paraphrase a famous Dave Chappelle skit, I wish I had more hands to give Jamie Briggs four thumbs down. Somehow, zero doesn’t quite seem low enough.

0 Tony Jones out of 10.

22_orig (100x100)

Mark Butler – Minister for Mental Health and Ageing.


EG: Butler had a particularly difficult start to the night, as Tony Jones got in on the “on the table/off the table” fun. Butler failed to defuse the confusion over the forthcoming budget early, and subsequently spent the next fifteen minutes batting away attacks from around the table. Although he struggled to gain traction for much of the night, Butler did a commendable job of handling the obligatory difficult question, this week based around mental health facilities. Some bonus points for striking the right notes down the stretch, but it was still a largely forgettable night.

4 Tony Jones out of 10.

Liam Quinn: Firstly, can we all collectively agree to ban this “on the table/off the table” sound byte? No? Ok, moving on. As you said Eric, Butler had a very tough gig last night. He tried gallantly at times to disarm TJ and his followers with humour – his line about not being authorised to reveal the budget, and the staple “insert AFL team here” is doing well, were too on the nose – but a rabid Tony Jones had him in the sights from the off. Similarly, I was swayed by his delicate traversing of the minefield question of the night, which is largely the reason why he comes out on top on the night.

5 Tony Jones out of 10.


214735-nick-cater-dinkus (100x100)

Nick Cater – Senior editor with The Australian & author The Lucky Culture


EG: Despite his clear attempts at wowing the audience with his authorial skills, Cater seemed to be the source of much of the vague debate that plagued the middle half hour of last night’s discussion. When Tony Jones has to step in because he’s confused by the points you’re trying to raise about Australian society, you know you’re heading in the wrong direction. Trying to make TJ look silly on his own television show wasn’t the correct response from Cater, who was shortly floored by a classic quip from the silver fox. These vagaries, combined with his clearly flawed assumption that everyone (or anyone) had read his book spelled doom for the confusing journalist. Lesson of the night: don’t pick fights with the host, you won’t win.

2 Tony Jones out of 10.

LQ: I feel the overwhelming piece of information Cater wanted us to take away from the night was, yes, he indeed does have a book on the shelves. However, perhaps Cater could have researched his audience, and shaped his comments accordingly. Defending Rupert and Gina is never going to endear you to the QandA audience, and while he certainly had them strapped on in going one-on-one with the Great One, trying to out-snark TJ was never going to end well for him. For Mr Cater’s sake, hopefully a DVD of The Wire floats into his inbox tomorrow. He could have learned from Omar Little’s immortal words: “You come at the king, you best not miss.” He missed. Badly.

2 Tony Jones out of 10.


shy_greensmps_sml (98x100)Sarah Hanson-Young – Greens Senator




EG: Hanson-Young must have been reasonably confident heading into last night’s session – she was one of the few panellists with any experience, and had performed well during her previous stints on QandA. I can only assume that the stink-bomb she laid throughout the night was as much a surprise to her as it was to me. She seemed to struggle to find a clear point to attack in her answers, often laughed awkwardly at her own jokes, and regularly failed to land blows against common right wing targets such as Rupert Murdoch. Perhaps most frustrating was her continual insistence on interrupting other panellists with weak, vague attempts at point scoring. When it’s not your night, Sarah, there’s little point in trying to steal the limelight away from others.

1 Tony Jones out of 10.

Liam Quinn: I didn’t think this possible, but Hanson-Young gave Jamie Briggs a serious run for worst-on-ground last night. She was, in many ways, the personification of the criticism levelled at her party by non-supporters. Hanson-Young was all over the place, disoriented, and at times seemed to be sat on the fringe of the conversation, throwing stones at the real party players in the middle of the circle. Usually, her performance would warrant a zero, but I can’t do that to a person with a broken arm. Sadly, her physical injury was the only redeeming feature of her performance.

1 Tony Jones 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