Questions and Answers

By Edwin Nelson

Is boycotting the National Broadcaster a good move? Edwin says yes.

Why was it a good idea for the Prime Minister Tony Abbott to refuse to go on Q&A?

Well to start with it was good politics. Let’s face it – your swing votes in Western Sydney don’t spend their time watching Tony Jones on Q&A. Most people who watch the program have a pretty good idea who they are going to vote for in the next election – so Tony Abbott is hardly going to win many friends by appearing on the program. So what does Tony Abbott gain by introducing a “ban” on Q&A? Well he wins some popularity with the Daily Telegraph readers.

There is a perception out in the general public that the ABC is too left wing. People don’t like the inner west latte sipping elites who form the predominant audience of Q&A and this message is re-enforced by your commercial television stations who are happy to beat up on their government sponsored competitor. So Tony Abbott wins a few points on Sunrise and 60 minutes. But more than this – there is a principle at stake here. You should not give a microphone on national television to people who have a history of making death threats. The ABC was wrong in allowing a convicted terrorist to appear on the program and so Abbott is right to condemn this. The ABC needs to change how they regulate their program. By taking a tough stance on Q&A – Abbott reinforces his tough guy stance on terrorism which is an issue that traditionally plays well for Conservatives.

Finally, I don’t expect the ban of Cabinet Ministers going on Q&A to last very long. There has already been an indication by the PM if the ABC changes its management of Q&A so falls under the news and current affairs division which has a more rigorous screening procedure then he’s prepared to lift the ban. And if it’s not lifted then who cares? Liberals will still appear on Lateline or the 7.30 report or any other form of news program. It’s not like there aren’t other T.V. shows out there.

Politics is the art of the possible and I think Abbott has won more than he’s lost on this issue.

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