May 06

I love to watch Q&A – sometimes I even tweet, and I’ve even written blogs about it.

On last night’s episode (2014-05-05) a group of protesters shut the show down for a couple of minutes. jones

The Minister for Education, Christopher Pyne was on and taking questions from young people about funding of education.  The questioner kept interrupting the Minister’s answers, at which point Pyne would stop talking and look mournfully at Tony Jones, the host, for him to take some sort of action.

From the TV it’s hard to tell if Pyne was getting jacked off at the complete lack of respect that was being shown to him or if he was simply looking for a way to deliver his answer without the interruption.

The guy asking the question was being very impolite.  Proper manners would dictate that you ask your question and then shut up while the answer is delivered to you.  The format of Q&A doesn’t allow for a backwards and forwards debate style.  You ask a question and someone then gives an answer, then others on the panel throw in their ideas.

The trouble with asking a politician a question is that you rarely get an answer.  At least not an answer to the question asked.  That’s so frustrating, even as a viewer.  The pollie tends to avoid the direct question and that’s normally done by picking on the Opposition.  They all behave this way.

The next part of the show saw a bunch of students (I assume) drop a banner over the balcony and start a chant.  This essentially drowns out Tony Jones and his guests.

The video is embedded at this page.

I was horrified by such a bold display of rudeness.  The protesters were interrupting my TV viewing and making me cross.

The ABC then broke the live feed and played a bit of music.  I can only guess what was said while the program was off air.  A few minutes later it was back and normality was restored.

Was this the right way to handle the protests?  I’m not so sure.  Mind you, I’m not sure it’s the right way to launch a protest either.  However, simply silencing them without investigating the issue seems rather odd for a program that is trying to explore the issues and keep politicians accountable.

Maybe a better way would have been for Tony Jones to engage with them for a moment or two.  To get a question about the nature of the protest and direct that to the Minister instead of shutting it down and telling us how democracy works.

What do you do when you think the world is against you and you can’t get your message across?  How do you raise awareness and make your point if the conventional ways don’t work for you?

Are we moving to an area where you can’t protest, where you can’t stage an event to make your point.

Sure, what the students did was rude, disruptive and damn annoying.  I feel I should make some disparaging remark about their upbringing.  However, maybe they have a point.  Fund education, not planes.  Seems sensible to me and not enough is being said about the stupid situation we have in Australia where we seem to value the purchase of killing machines over education.  Where we seem to value the diesel rebate for huge mining companies over education.  The current government seems to think it’s better to make young people move to where the work is instead of keeping them close to their support networks.

Perhaps sometimes we should all do a little screaming to get our point across.  I don’t think it’s necessary for Tony Jones to apologise to Pyne.  Pyne should have listened to the frustration, he should have shown leadership by engaging, seeking to understand and then perhaps the world might just be a better place.

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