Bob Katter – Leader of the Australian Party
Eric George: Mr Katter must have been licking his lips at the prospects of last night’s panel. Most of his appearances on ABC national television are concerning national politics, and this presented a rare opportunity to play to his political strengths in a room full of people who loved him. The Member for Kennedy romped throughout the proceedings, interrupting Nicholls seemingly at will, making him look foolish in the process, and ensuring the rest of the panel knew who owned the show on the night. The only slight blemish was when he changed tracks mid-sentence and started ranting about 457-visas. It was his weakest point of the night, and the only instance when he failed to finish on a punchline. Also, I can’t award a full score to someone who had the odds stacked almost entirely in their favour. An extremely strong performance, but not a flawless one.
Tahlia McPherson: Kat in the hat. Katter the mad Hatter. Katter’s getting catty… I could go on for days.
I have to agree with you Eric, a very strong performance. I admire the man’s passion. To give an indication of his dominance – from my rough tally – he interrupted people a whopping five times, maybe more.
I was surprised to see some collaboration between him and Palmer early on in the show, however, in true Katter style, he dominated until the end. His answers were incredibly strong, supported with statistics, and his personality a true reflection of what we want in a QandA panellist.
As for his favourable odds, I concur, a perfect score can’t be rewarded.
Ged Kearney – President of the Australian Council of Trade Unions
EG: In protest against the ABC’s insistence on condemning one panel member each week to obscurity with the current five member format, here is a haiku:
Ged, the silent one
a whispered southerly
in the heated North
She’s from Melbourne, you see… Anyway, Tahlia, let’s hope you have something more insightful.
TM: What can I say, she started out semi-vocal, however, by the end of the show I almost forgot she was there. My only insight is that her silence was solid evidence that her red shirt was a strategic move to blend into the red QandA background.
While I can’t blame her for trying to avoid the Katter-Palmer show down, I felt like we needed to hear more from her.
Despite her shyness, she did attempt to take on the big guns at the start of the show which gains her a couple of extra points in my books.
If Ged wanted to redeem herself, for me, she would have needed to steal Katters hat and start boot scootin’ while he was off on one of his rants.
Tim Nicholls – Queensland Treasurer
EG: Sadly, Mr Nicholls was set up as the punching bag for last night’s programming – a role he filled with aplomb. Host, panellist, and audience member alike lined up to take their shots at the beleaguered Treasurer. Unfortunately, he never really adjusted his approach to something more suitable to the QandA format, and suffered throughout accordingly. Amongst a panel that often discussed ideology in broad strokes, Nicholls persisted with fairly dry breakdowns of various policy decisions. This was especially ineffective once Katter began haranguing him through every answer. Aggressive charisma will always beat reserved rationalism in the QandA ring.
TM: On last night’s menu for Tim Nicholls: a thumbs down from Palmer with a side dish of boos from the audience.
Being from Queensland, I would have thought he’d come prepared for the flood of two big personalities. I was wrong.
On the issue of understaffed hospitals he played the sympathy card, and for me it just didn’t fly. It felt like a soft attempt to cushion the backlash from his answer – and neither I nor the lady who asked the question was satisfied.
He was destroyed by both Katter and the audience, who found humour in a number of his weak responses.
All I can say is it was lucky he sat between Ged and Tony Jones to soften the blow from Palmer and Katter.
Despite his desperado appearance, I do commend him for making his presence known during the program and toughing it out until the end. Even though many of his answers weren’t appreciated, it takes guts to deliver unsatisfying answers to a rowdy audience and panel. Maybe he should have opted for the red shirt.
Clive Palmer – Mining magnate/maverick politician
EG: It was difficult to know what to expect from Clive, who had been seen sparingly on shows as volatile as QandA since beginning his political career proper. It was immediately apparent that he would not be caught short on charisma, but what else would you expect from a guy who’s currently building Jurassic Park and the Titanic? He burst out of the gate with aplomb, seeming passionate, comfortable, and pretty engaging. He even handled Tony Jones’ attempted curveball about party registration issues like a seasoned pro. Unfortunately Palmer did fade as the show wore on, struggling to impose himself on discussion to the extent that he managed earlier. An impressive, surprising effort despite a weak finish.
TM: For me, Clive Palmer’s performance resembled the weather in Melbourne.
A string of laughter at the beginning of the show had me thinking he would be better off as a comedian. The Palmer United Party came under fire for its name changes as well as the Slipper incident, and lets face it, most people want to see him successfully run a soccer team before he attempts to run a country.
But as soon as he opened his mouth, he began to win me and the audience over. There was no doubt it was going to be him and Katter stealing the spotlight of last night’s QandA. Palmer showed Australia just how charming he can be, and surprisingly he and Katter found some common ground. I counted two interruptions early on by Palmer showing evidence of his passion; however, I was disappointed when he ran out of breath towards the end. I mean, I understand that he spoke a lot, but this is QandA, people stayed up to watch him!
Larissa Waters – Queensland Greens Senator
EG: I’m not going to lie – I wasn’t aware before last night that the Greens had any representation in the sunshine state. But I was impressed by what I saw, despite my lack of familiarity with Waters. She didn’t fly into conversations initially, but put together a string of polished responses down the stretch. Most importantly, her approach was perfectly suited to the tone of the show; she was assertive without being aggressive, polite and friendly (especially when compared to her companions), and maintained a smile while sinking a boot into Nicholls or Palmer. Getting such a strong audience reaction from a room so partial to Katter’s approach is no mean feat for someone selling environmental policies.
Aussies love an underdog and Waters was just that last night. Her performance went from strength to strength. She took on Palmer a few times, outshining him towards the end of the show. Maybe that’s why Palmer ran out of steam.
It was a battle of the Greens versus the Katter Australia Party. Waters was passionate, opinionated and brought a solid QandA performance.
It was a rare moment for the Greens, for once taking the spotlight in what I would say was their fifteen minutes of QandA fame.