Last night’s Q&A programme came out with all guns blazing and showed that it was prepared to subject itself to public scrutiny over the issue of the participation of Zakky Mallah in last week’s programme. It even invited two Liberal party sympathises, Tim Wilson and Paul Kelly onto the programme. The only person from those whom they could have expected some support, Tania Plibersek, was lukewarm to moderate.
The real stars of the programme were counter-terrorism expert Anne Aly
and theoretical physicist and cosmologist Lawrence Krauss.
And, of course, Tony Jones who remained calm in the face of some pretty obnoxious behaviour from one of the panellists.
Jones also noted that the ABC’s editorial standards “tell us to present a diversity of perspectives so that over time no significant strand of thought or belief within the community is knowingly excluded, nor disproportionately represented”.
And this is really the issue.
The ideas that Mallah expressed, in particular the idea that he would have had his passport cancelled and been deported under legislation proposed by the current government yet was found not guilty in a court of law, goes to the heart of the debate on the legislation before Parliament.
There is no doubt that many people would found his presence and many of the ideas he has expressed on the Internet completely repugnant. But this is a difficulty. Often the types of ideas that he is expressing come from people you probably wouldn’t want to invite round for a cup of tea. But the ideas do need to be heard, in this case the choice of messenger was pretty unimpressive.
The other great thing about the programme was the Liberal party boycott of Q&A. But only for a week, unfortunately. Next week Barnaby Joyce will be on (as well as right-wing Piers Akerman).
I won’t be watching