A certain body of conservative thought has taken in the sorry spectacle of Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s plunge down the Himalayan gradient of every latest poll and wondered, first in whispers but lately in semi-audible mutterings, who might best replace him? That murmur seems to have reached the ABC’s Q&A, which next week will wheel out the incumbent’s most shamelessly ardent admirer and advocate, Mrs Woolcock of The Australian. The other members of the panel you can understand.There’s a black guy from America who has written a novel imagining the return of slavery. That ticks the rotten whitey/racism box.
There a celebrity cosmologist, a frequent visitor who no sooner touches down at Mascot than he is whisked before the national broadcaster’s nearest microphone to beat the drum about the public’s moral obligation to revere scientists. That ticks the warmism box.
There’s a Russian journalist, which ticks the box for exotic accent.
There’s a Guardian journalist, which ticks the box for what, by ABC reckoning, is someone who represents the orthodox and middle-of-the-road sensible.And then there is Mrs Woolcock, who has been added to the mix why exactly? Could it be because the ABC feels the need to feature and endorse a journalist who passes along, without checking, nasty little rumours that a former PM was having an affair with his chief of staff? Is it because the ABC figures regular doses of Mrs Woolcock on Insiders just aren’t enough?
Or could it be, do you think, with Malcolm Turnbull in trouble poll-wise, performance-wise and party room-wise, Q&A‘s producers believe he needs a dutiful propagandist and off-the-books publicist to get out there, front and centre, and remind the populace how lucky they are to live in a country where the leader of the nominal conservative party pours cups of tea for Gillian Triggs and beams with delight at his Labouresque budget?
What might happen if the current PM were to be replaced, the ABCers who did so much to promote Turnbull must surely be thinking? Why, the Coalition might regain an edge on Bill Shorten! At the very least, given how many seats the current PM is certain to lose, a fresh or re-cycled Liberal face might “save the furniture”, as did Kevin Rudd after usurping his own usurper. If you are a Q&A producer and audience-stacker it makes all the sense in the world to keep a guaranteed loser atop the loathed party until your own favourite can sweep him aside on election day.
Q&A thoughtfully provides an online page, reachable via the link below, where viewers can put questions to the show’s guests in advance. A good one might be,
“Niki, don’t you think you should end your every weekly attack on Tony Abbott by noting, if only in six-point type, that your hubby, Vincent Woolcock, was the PM’s very first hire after the knifing of Mr Abbott?”
Probably not much chance it will make it to air, but worth asking for the record nevertheless.
— roger franklin