Eric George: Welcome to a special edition of the QandA Scorecard, running the rule over Julia Gillard’s specia-
Liam Quinn: Whoa whoa, slow down there, Eric.
Didn’t you get the email?
Youth is at the fore of QandA this week, meaning you have to be under the age of 25 to go on this ride. Unfortunately, like the vertically-challenged child stood in line at Luna Park, you’ve been ruled out this week.
Enjoy your night off.
I’ve found a more than apt replacement. Kimberley Thomson is a first-year student at La Trobe University, and part of The Emerging Journalist program. She’ll be holding down the fort in your absence.
Who knows, maybe you’ll struggle to get back into the team next week…
Liam Quinn: This was a home run for the Prime Minister.
Over the course of what was essentially a 60-odd minute press release, Gillard was at her relatable best. She danced between financial policy and wardrobe choices, all the while maintaining a friendly front for her pubescent audience. For the high schoolers in the audience, she came across as the “nice” assistant principal, the one who wasn’t quite as harsh on you for wearing sneakers instead of school shoes.
She played to her audience with aplomb, with the her performance last night a notable contrast to the slightly snarky one she turned in on Insiders on Sunday morning.
Julia joked, kids laughed, parents – presumably – dotingly watched on from home.
Kim, I don’t know about you, but this seemed a masterstroke of Labor spin. Consider the youth vote officially on lock.
Kimberley Thomson: Agreed, Liam. Gillard killed those questions.
Her tone was perfectly pitched, like a spitball shooting across a classroom. Talking to a room full of school-kids, she managed to avoided the common mistake of adopting a condescending tone. She was even, dare I say it, charming. It wouldn’t have been all that surprising, nor would I have blamed them, if one of the students accidentally called her “Mum”.
By the end of the program she had the kids beaming down at her, and even Tony Jones seemed to melt a little bit. She handled policy questions well, but was most impressive when she spoke frankly and reflectively about herself as a leader. I believed.
One wonders how Tony ‘I can’t go on Qanda, I brought a sick-note from my Mum’ Abbott would have handled the same situation.
LQ: Ah, TJ, our muse and inspiration here at the Scorecard.
He tries to hide it behind an inquisitive veneer, but Jones is practically the star of the show on a weekly basis – unless QandA royalty such as Barnaby Joyce or Tanya Plibersek make an appearance.
However, due to last night’s drastically different format, the ‘silver fox’ was thrust into the spotlight and he didn’t quite perform up to standard. TJ is at his best when he’s combating his guests, pushing them on every point. Maybe it was a sign of respect, as I wouldn’t dare suggest Tony was scared, but he let Gillard run roughshod last night.
It breaks my heart Tony, but I’m marking you down.
KT: I’m not gonna lie, Liam, my inordinate old-man-crush on Tony Jones is one of the main reasons I watch QandA.
I’d be perfectly happy if they removed all the guests each week and we were just treated to an hour of the’ silver fox’ and his dulcet tones. If we were in high school together, I’d gaze longingly at him throughout English and scrawl ‘Mrs Tony Jones’ all over my pencil case.
But no amount of fittingly teenage-esque crushing can hide the fact there was a distinct lack of sass in Tony last night.
Early on, he seemed genuinely impressed with how Gillard was taking to the potentially tricky situation, and eventually he just let her roll.
In his defence, perhaps he thought it was best this week to ease up on the political blood-letting.
Somebody think of the children.
LQ: Yeah, yeah, I get it; kids are the future. And, wow, didn’t these ones make it look like our future is a bright one.
Perhaps I’ve become somewhat cynical in my relative old-age, but most of what was uttered from the collective mouth of the babes last night seemed like the Frankenstein-esque creation of high school teachers and parents leaning over student shoulders.
Call me crazy, or maybe I’m just underestimating the youth of today, but it seemed very artificial at times. Then again, perhaps teenagers today are pulling themselves away from Call of Duty and Keeping Up With the Kardashians to become fully versed in the finer details of immigration and education reform.
At the end of the night, one thing was for certain. I’m eternally grateful for attending a high school that didn’t include blazers as part of the uniform.
KT: Where did they find these kids?
Overwhelmingly clean and devoid of the acne and greasy hair that plagues regular teenagers; the sea of navy, maroon and dark green (the inevitably heinous colours they choose for school blazers) seemingly indicative of the large private school turn out.
Well-spoken and self-assured, the ‘future leaders’ delivered their questions impressively and will probably have all by now screenshot-ed their own faces to use a profile pic for the rest of the year.
Not surprisingly, these kids are the easy kids to deal with – the ones who laugh at the teacher’s jokes and find algebra fun. It would have been interesting to see if Gillard had been asked to front a group of burnouts who chew gum and Snapchat their friends at the back of class. Then, perhaps, she might not have been so composed.