AS HAS been widely noted, the ABC's once flagship Q&A program is now pulling in the sort of audience numbers that could see it become the next Channel 10 morning show. So I nearly choked on my chia and quinoa porridge when I read about its latest self-imposed snafu. The April 22 episode was already making waves for all the wrong reasons with a tantalising headline: "Appalling": ABC slammed in angry tweet.

As it turned out the tweet was by the Greens, who thought that a panellist had been rude to Senator Sarah Hanson-Young and that host Hamish Macdonald hadn't done enough to stop it. The topic of the show was "Climate, Politics and Fossil Fools", the latter being a hilarious play on words to indicate to the ABC's sophisticated audience just how impartial it is on this complex issue.

But the really odd thing was that Macdonald said none of the four Labor frontbenchers Q&A approached agreed to appear - odd because the party is desperately trying to reposition itself on climate, politics and fossil fuels.

For any interplanetary visitors who might be reading this, traditional Labor blue collar workers are abandoning the ALP in droves over this issue. Perhaps they are the "fossil fools" the Q&A producers were referring to.

 

Joe Hilderbrand “nearly choked on my chia and quinoa porridge” over latest Q&A blunder.
Joe Hilderbrand “nearly choked on my chia and quinoa porridge” over latest Q&A blunder.

These existential pressures led to leader Anthony Albanese replacing the left-wing climate spokesman Mark Butler with Chris Bowen, a former federal treasurer and now the national convener of the dominant right-wing faction.

In other words he's a pretty big wheel at the cracker factory. But Bowen was never asked to come on the show because - reach for the popcorn - he's a bloke. Yes, as confirmed by The Australian on Monday, the producers felt they already had too many males on the panel and so the opposition climate spokesman was snubbed on a show about climate because he had too many dangly bits.

Fortunately the other opposition climate spokesman, Malcolm Turnbull, was there to take pot shots at the government. Unfortunately, almost no one saw him because according to Sky News the show recorded its lowest ever ratings that week of just 224,000.

But who cares about the audience when there are gender quotas to worry about.

Joe Hildebrand is on 2GB Nights with John Stanley on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8pm

 

Originally published as Q&A; blunder that made Joe Hildebrand spit out breakfast



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