QandA Scorecard: Whish-ful thinking

16 April 2013

Written by: Eric George


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David Marr – Journalist and author


Eric George: Marr spent his last appearance on QandA telling us about Tony Abbott’s aggressive past at Sydney University, but began the show with a sharp left turn as he spent an aeon telling the audience how genuine the opposition leader truly is. Then he spent an aeon telling us about Australia’s education inequality. Then he spent an aeon telling us about tourism and climate change. Tony gave the colourful writer a very long leash last night, and Marr obligingly held court. Sadly it wasn’t all that substantial at times, as waxing lyrical took precedence over arguing a coherent point. Points for the almighty whack he gave Mirabella in his closing remarks though, that was the best punchline of the night.

6 Tony Joneses out of 10.

Sam McInerney: It was almost as though Tony Jones had lost a bet, and had to allow Marr as long as he wanted to answer each question. At one point Marr even said “let me go back to my other rant”, before assuring Jones that he’d speak for “under ten minutes”. It was a frustrating performance from Marr – he showed flashes of understanding, wit, and an abundance of knowledge, but seemed as though he had nothing to play for. I too gave Marr bonus points for his crack about Tony Abbott’s love for copper wiring, in relation to the national broadband network. Having said that, he lost points for his bizarre suggestion that Tasmania’s greatest drawcard is its cold weather. Nobody knew whether he was joking or not. It was that kind of night.

6 Tony Joneses out of 10.


sophie2013-home (100x100)Sophie Mirabella – Shadow Minister for Innovation, Industry and Science 


EG: Sadly, Mirabella was the most predictable of last night’s participants. As with previous attempts, she interjected where she could, exaggerated when she wanted, and rarely engaged with the question at hand. Her “in my many years in Parliament” response to Whish-Wilson seemed outrageously smug. I’ll give the Member for Indi credit for returning to QandA, after being widely criticised for her Sheikh-ey performance last year.

5 Tony Joneses out of 10

SM:Those who watch QandA do so to see intelligent political debate, rather than the day-to-day mud-slinging contests that are ever present on other media platforms. Mirabella either doesn’t realise this, or is forced to constantly talk politics ahead of policy because she can’t sufficiently address the topics of discussion. Neither is acceptable. If you’re going to interrupt other panelists, you better have something good to say. Mirabella’s repetitive suggestions that Dick Adams was “making stuff up” certainly didn’t fall into that category. On top of all that, her one attempt to be human and relatable fell incredibly flat. “We all want happiness”, said Mirabella. How profound.

2 Tony Joneses out of 10


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Dick Adams – Labor MP for Lyons


EG: Too nice. Simple as that. If this was a more personal episode of QandA, with questions about smaller scale problems, then I’d imagine the softly spoken Tasmanian may have excelled. But when debating the future of the island, and the national political scene, Adams frequently got lost in the wash. His answer also often left me lost; after three rambling minutes I often was scrambling to remember the topic at hand. Extra point for what must be the best beard QandA has seen.

4 Tony Joneses out of 10

SM: Adams first response must be one of the worst QandA has seen. When asked about what three main problems the Labor party had encountered since entering power, Adams responded that Prime Minister Gillard had “to deal with being a woman”, which had “caused some difficulties for her”. I’m not sure if it was the nonsensical answer alone, or if the beard played a role, but initially I wondered how Rex Hunt had been transported from his interview on Open Mike, which was being aired on Foxtel simultaneously. Adams got better as the night went on, but seemed less like a politician, and more like a decent bloke. That sounds like a compliment, but isn’t.

4 Tony Joneses out of 10.


pww (100x100)Peter Whish-Wilson – Greens Senator for Tasmania 


EG: Last night’s stand-out performer for mine. I wasn’t familiar with the Senator’s work before last night, so it’s hard to know whether he was playing to the audience. Regardless, he was by far the most suited to the QandA format: he mixed clear policy arguments with a passion of his convictions. Vitally, Whish-Wilson (can you imagine a more Greens-appropriate surname?) also hit the “I’m just a normal guy” notes that tend to please the live audience. A solid performance.

8 Tony Joneses out of 10.

SM: By far and away the best performer of the night. I knew nothing of Whish-Wilson before last night, but awoke this morning with a greater appreciation of what a Greens senator sporting a faux-hawk is capable of. The theme of combatting complacency tied together a number of separate responses nicely. Whish-Wilson’s acknowledgement of his kids “watching at home” by name made him seem relatable, regardless of whether or not it was a genuine spur of the moment response. Whish-Wilson had done his homework, and the “Tasmania is the happiest state” card was a clever one to pull out to get the studio audience onside.

8 Tony Joneses out of 10.


Jan-Davis (100x100)Jan Davies – CEO of the Tasmanian Farmers and Graziers Association


EG: You don’t go on QandA to play the part of neutral Switzerland, so Jan’s early responses that attempted fence sitting didn’t sit well with me. Through out the night, Davies swayed between common sense homilies and some insightful arguments in favour of local industry. Her use of battery hen regulation as an example of inter-government bureaucracy was a neat turn. But don’t turn up to an opinion show and beg out of giving your opinion!

4 Tony Joneses out of 10.

SM: Davies’ thoughts of battery hen regulation provided one of the strangest moments of the evening. When Davies stated that there would be less caged chickens in Tasmania, the audience applauded. When she explained that this was a bad move because Tasmanians would get their eggs from elsewhere, the audience applauded again. The audience didn’t know which side they wanted to be on. Perhaps that’s why they liked Davies – as you mentioned Eric, she was a fence-sitter, which doesn’t cut the mustard on QandA. Not happy, Jan.

4 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

Sam McInerneyTHUMBSam McInerney is Upstart’s Deputy Sports Editor, and is studying a Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism. You can follow him on Twitter: @SamuelMcInerney