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April 24th 2014 print

Roger Franklin

Coming Soon On Q-&-Effing-A

Here's a rarity: an edition of Q&A with two, possibly three, conservative voices. But don't get your hopes up that ABC Editor in Chief Mark Scott's minions have attained some semblance of balance. The two lefties lined up for Monday night's show more than compensate for their side's diminished numbers with guaranteed overdoses of bellicosity and, if "public intellectual" Van Badham remains true to form, lashings of obscenities delivered hot and steaming to Australia's livingrooms

abc leans left smallWE all know how the ABC works, if that is the right word for an organisation whose premier talk show operates along such predictable lines that little thought or effort must be required to assemble each week’s guests. An Egyptian gargoyle with a foul mouth and none too strong a hold on logic or consistency? Yep, book her!  After all, Mona Eltahawy says in public what the head-nodding ABC group-thinkers utter off-camera, so she gets a seat, a pulpit and not too many interruptions from compere Tony Jones.

Sometimes it is even easier than that. A scandalously inconsistent and ill-informed climate catastropharian turns up from Canada aboard a carbon-spewing jetliner to preach the gospel of global warming and capitalism-driven megadeath, so of course the producers can’t resist giving him an entire show to himself. Hey, at at a subsequent Newtown dinner party some ABC employee would have been able to boast of shaking David Suzuki’s sainted hand, perhaps even of helping him turn off the odd, token light switch, and isn’t that what spending taxpayer dollars is all about?

Every Monday night for the entire course of the show’s history, it has been more of the same: four reliable, top-of-the-Roladex names boasting impeccable leftist pedigrees, with a token conservative tossed into the mix in the name of balance. And if a member of the stacked audience happens to throw a shoe at a former Liberal PM, so much better. Great ratings and the delightful spectacle of the little bastard finding out what typical Australians think of him — typical, that is, if Australia was populated solely by ABCers’ Facebook friends.

Next Monday’s show, however, is weirdly different.

For starters there is regular guest and minister overseeing the ABC Malcolm Turnbull, who has lately been making muted noises about the national broadcaster’s need to strike some sort of balance. Perhaps Tony Jones will urge him to look to his right and left because — wonder of wonders! — this upcoming show will also include the editrix of the Daily Telegraph‘s opinion page and Spectator publisher Andrew Neil. That’s not bad by Q&A standards — three nominal conservative voices and just the sort of evidence Turnbull might find handy in the party room when Coalition colleagues ask him what it is that ABC Chief Tweeter Mark Scott actually does to justify his $700K salary.

And representing the left? Having dispensed with the customary imbalance, Q&A‘s talent scouts tapped another favourite, the congenital shop steward and most notable UK import since the rabbit, Doug Cameron. Couldn’t have Q&A without a dash of vitriol and class warfare, could we?

Undermanned as the left will be, the remaining seat has gone to an individual the ABC rates as a “public intellectual”, Guardian columnist Van Badham. Tim Blair has assembled catalogue of Badham’s recent intellectualism. Who but ABC staffers would be capable of recognising in such a litany of sewer-sludge vulgarity the essence of a great mind?

But not to worry, it’s only your taxes at work, folks. The obscenities you will get as a bonus.

UPDATE: More evidence of Van Badham’s magnificent mind:

Roger Franklin is the editor of Quadrant Online. He can form a sentence without including a random obscenity and will never therefore be regarded by ABC bookers as “a public intellectual”