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June 17th 2016 print

Christian Kerr

Leading Questions, Questionable Leaders

The Facebook debate between the PM and his challenger might, just might, shed some light on the directions in which each contender hopes, or at least claims, he wishes to take the country. That's a possible outcome. The far more definite conclusion, however, is that Australians have some strange fixations

questions answeredFinally, as we reach the final stages of this near indeterminable campaign, some light relief.  For those not otherwise occupied this evening, tonight’s Facebook leaders debate should be a real doozy. An entire inquisition’s worth of questions for the leaders have already appeared on the site — questions and the usual statements disguised as pseudo-questions that any opportunity to quiz pollies always invite.

The Young Greens, for example, appear to be pledging to die out:

“Our generation is more anxious than ever. We’re locked out of the housing market, lucky to find a nice place to rent. We leave university with tens of thousands of dollars worth of debt only to spend years unemployed or not in our chosen field because of a dying jobs market. We’re facing catastrophic climate change that will peak whilst we’re middle aged, and we have to decide whether we’ll bring kids into this world.”

There’s much curious use of capitals in the questions, and some even more curious theories:

“Why do you both cow tow [sic] to the Rothchilds [sic] monetary system and wont [sic] return to sovereign Australian banking for the people of Australia and the physical economy?”

Some want to use the debate as an exercise in pop psychology.

“Here is a thought experiment to see how well they understand their opponent,” one posting reads. “Ask each leader to summarise in a minute the best arguments for voting for their opponent. Then ask them to correct each other. Second, ask them to summarise why people may not vote for them. Let’s see how honest and self-aware these guys are!”

There’s a certain degree of confusion not only about policy, but on matters of religion. One question that begins “In light of the recent Orlando shooting” asks “what protections will you put in place to protect vulnerable people in the LGBT community from the likes of the ACL [Australian Christian Lobby]?”

Every barrow that can be pushed is wheeled out, from funding the arts to breastfeeding, as well as some we don’t hear about every day.

“Dear PM Turnbull and MP Shorten can you please advise the people of Australia how much direct and indirect funding your parties receive from high and medium donors in order to shape and maintain Australia’s shameful and unsustainable policy of institutional discrimination and delegitimisation of the Republic of Macedonia and its diaspora from 1994 to date?”

But among the nonsense there is some valuable material. For example, a question none of the media pack dared put to the leader of the opposition when he visited the Whyalla steelworks yesterday:

“What is the rationale for throwing $100 million to Arrium when the Administrator has said that it is possibly not needed?”

Perhaps they have more weighty issues on their minds. Another question comes from the Financial Review’s Phillip Coorey:

“Why are you doing the debate at such a shit time so it misses everybody’s deadline?”