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Q&A, August 15, 2011

Q&A, August 15, 2011 (Click to access the ABC page)

If you are lovely click here.

Uncouth People (You Know Who You Are) Section

Panellists: Several

Loathe as I am to inject myself into a review, I feel compelled to commence this section with an apology. Comments on my first attempt at a review of the ABC’s Q&A TV program force me to face the fact that it was rather amateurish. In brief, it waffled about. I can only beg your indulgence and try to improve this time.

This week several questions were asked on ABC’s Q&A TV program to a number of panellists, some of whom were politicians. Which brings us to that burning political issue at the PA: Whose female politicians are more fuckable, Ours or Theirs? Last week there was unanimous agreement that it is Ours.

Skip the rest, it is a lot of silly waffle.

Lovely People Section

Stella Young: Disability advocate.
Lachlan Harris: ex Labor staffer and media man.
Jackie Kelly: ex Liberal minister.
Malcolm Turnbull: Liberal shadow minister.
Deborah Cheetham: Indigenous Australian opera singer.
Tony Burke: Labor minister.

In the immediate aftermath of this week’s performance of the improv theatre that is the ABC’s Q&A TV program, there had been no single outstanding feature by which I felt inspired to write.

Gratifyingly, both MPs spoke calmly and behaved like grown-ups towards each other. Tony Burke had the difficult job of selling the official reason why the recently announced National Disability Insurance Scheme has to wait seven years, being two to three governments away. Malcolm Turnbull had the difficult job of showcasing his own Party leadership potential whilst supporting 100% the incumbent leader and another potential rival. Verdict on Malcolm: You might say that he backed them to the hilt.

Tony Burke struck a particular chord with me when he said the objective of the disability scheme is effective delivery, not money going out the door. I for one am heartily sick of hearing unfocused demands for more money for this or that area as an end in itself, with neither vision nor concrete objectives attached.

Malcolm Turnbull came across as quite the elder statesman, combining a degree of bipartisanship with measured criticism of the government. He also played to perfection the role of faithful Party member ably discharging his duty to defend an errant leader. The nudge-nudge wink-wink here is that he and we really know Tony Abbott is an oaf. The prize for best actor in a supporting role goes to Tony Jones for repeatedly setting up Turnbull’s faithful defender scenes. Regardless of how this drama pans out it is an interesting sub-plot in the theatre of Australian politics.

Lachlan Harris, in parallel with his real-life job as a political commentator, remained on the periphery of the discussions, making a couple of good points about the political process along the way rather than addressing issues directly, except of course where the process was the issue.

Jackie Kelly has a certain rough diamond appeal. I really related to her heartfelt hope that Penny Wong’s new baby would keep her up at nights, as poetic justice for her disapproving tutting at Jackie’s personal presentation being negatively affected when she had been an embabied MP. As Deborah Cheetham empathised “you have to live it”. I found myself growing increasingly sensitised over time to Jackie’s belligerence though. When at one point she directed it squarely at Tony Burke, he didn’t so much respond to as weather it, successfully defusing the fleeting potential for a verbal stoush. This week it was Jackie’s turn to be the guest with the socially incorrect moment, with her unfortunate ignoring of The Disabled Person’s comment about how disabled people are often ignored, in order to pursue a point Stella Young had just rebutted.

But Stella turned out not to be a Disabled Person after all. Yes she’s disabled, and visibly so, but in the end (and indeed, from the outset) she proved to be an actual person, and an intelligent and thoughtful one. It seemed apparent that it is the government’s prioritisation of the surplus target that is behind the hugely delayed implementation of the expensive Disabled Person Insurance Scheme, rather than the prominently brandished productivity commission report’s estimated time frame. Stella made an excellent point about it actualising the wasted potential of people with disabilities, enabling them to contribute economically as taxpayers and increase the surplus. But in the meantime, just get/stay healthy people.

Deborah Cheetham was introduced as an aboriginal opera singer. I dithered over whether to include a racial/cultural label in my own brief description of her above, but I came down in the affirmative because she did seem to deliberately inject a broadly Aboriginal perspective into some comments. I felt impressed by her personal togetherness. Impeccably groomed, well spoken, and above all, warm, she was the only person to explicitly characterise the disability scheme as a social justice issue, which is an indicator of the extent to which the political debate is currently mired in financial territory.

Ultimately it was the understated impact of the two “non-political” panellists that developed over time into the inspiration to put metaphorical pen to paper. OK, that and the feminist push back above. 🙂