Abbott tries to find wriggle room on Q&A

Tony Abbott has wedged himself into a corner over Q&A and his ban on ministers appearing on the programme. Now he’s trying to find a way to save face.

Tony Abbott has bitten another onion over Q&A. He's probably also going to have to eat humble pie.
Tony Abbott has bitten another onion over Q&A. He’s probably also going to have to eat humble pie.

The  Age reports that Prime Minister Tony Abbott has been accused of unprecedented political interference in the ABC by demanding the broadcaster move panel program Q&A into its news division before he lifts a boycott of the program.

Apparently, the ABC had been considering this move before Abbott made his demands. So clearly he thought he would pre-empt the restructure and use it as an excuse for backing down.

There are two problems with this strategy. The first is that, if the ABC goes ahead with its planned move, it will look as if it is bowing to political pressure. The second is that Abbott looks as if he is interfering in matters that should properly be the concern of the ABC board and management.

It’s a dumb thing for Abbott to do. But then, turning the Q&A molehill into a mountain was dumb in the first place.

So here’s some advice for James Spigelman, the ABC chairman: Don’t let off Abbott off the hook. At least, wait until after August 6 when the board will discuss the matter.

 ABC chairman James Jacob Spigelman AC, QC , formerly Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales
ABC chairman James Jacob Spigelman AC, QC , formerly Lieutenant Governor of New South Wales and Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of New South Wales

The participation of Liberal party ministers in Q&A is not integral to its success. In fact, many people think that the appearance of the likes of Pyne, Hockey, Abetz, Morrison, Dutton makes the program fundamentally unwatchable.

Tony Abbott’s colleagues must be questioning his political judgement on this issue. It was a stupid fight to get involved in and it’s even more stupid to continue it. ABC bashing goes down well with the rabid right, but they going to vote for him anyhow. It’s the middle class, blue rinse, conservative, affluent voters, a key constituency for the Liberal party, that gets concerned about these issues.

And they have been known to change their votes as they did when Jeff Kennett attacked the ombudsman in Victoria and then lost the next election.

 Jeff Kennett misjudged his core constituency and lost power
Jeff Kennett misjudged his core constituency and lost power

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