‘Utter tosser’: PM’s Q&A disaster
MALCOLM Turnbull's appearance on Q&A; has been described as a trainwreck, with many criticising the Prime Minister for bullying questioners and giving condescending answers.
Mr Turnbull was once beloved for his leather-jacket clad appearances on the panel show and was expected to breeze through the evening after delivering same-sex marriage, but the Prime Minister was surprisingly combative with questioners and even sighed loudly at one member of the public.
The first of a number of heated exchanges began with host Virginia Trioli, after she asked him about the leaking of Labor senator Sam Dastyari's conversations with wealthy Chinese donor Huang Xiangmo.
Trioli asked the PM if he was concerned about the leaking of surveillance material against elected members of Parliament.
"Are you making an allegation there?" Mr Turnbull quickly hit back.
Trioli rallied: "There's been some strong suggestions ... this has come from somewhere hasn't it?".
"Unless you're a ventriloquist, it clearly came from you," the PM responded.
Mr Turnbull later clarified leaked information given to the media did not come from ASIO, but his "smartarse" reaction set the tone for the rest of the evening.
While it's not uncommon for politicians to go hard against the host or other members of the panel, the lack of other sparring partners left Mr Turnbull directing his one-upmanship at members of the public.
Mr Turnbull's next victim was a young woman named Olivia who said she had voted for him but had been left disappointed as she had hoped his personal beliefs were more progressive and idealistic than the policies the Coalition had since adopted.
"Tell me how I've disappointed you?" Mr Turnbull asked pointedly.
Olivia: "With the (same-sex marriage) plebiscite, it was Tony Abbott's idea, as I understand it. We live in a representative democracy, why take it to a plebiscite? You can represent us and just change that immediately without wasting $126 million."
PM: "OK. Let me ask you this? Do you think politicians should keep their promises?"
PM: "Did I promise to give everyone their say? I did. So I kept my promise. So you should approve of it."
The PM managed to get some applause for that answer, but the questioning went downhill after that when the topic turned to the Uluru Statement from the Heart.
Mr Turnbull said the proposal to allow Aboriginal people to have a voice on legislation would create a third chamber of Parliament, something that has been rejected by advocates like Noel Pearson.
One woman, believed to be lawyer Teela Reid, said she was part of the Constitutional dialogue process, and the statement represented a national consensus from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people.
"Why won't you respect our proposal to take it to a referendum and put it to the people like you put ... marriage equality to the people?" she asked.
"Polls reveal up to 61 per cent of Australians are in support of this proposal."
But her request appeared to turn Mr Turnbull into a "daddy" who thought it was time for some tough love.
"As someone who has had some experience in how easy it is to change the Australian Constitution, it would have no prospect of success whatsoever," he informed her.
"That is the view of every member of Parliament that I've discussed this with.
"People that don't tell you the truth are misleading you, what I'm telling you is the truth.
"I don't think it's a good idea. And if it were put up in a referendum it would go down in flames. That's my view."
Despite the firm response, Teela was not ready to back down.
"I think the Prime Minister continues to undermine our democracy," she said.
"The PM can honestly not sit there and say it will fail ... if that's his position then we clearly need a leader with some courage.
"It's been real disheartening to see his dismissal of this."
Teela's response got a round of applause and Trioli tried to leave the topic there, but the PM couldn't resist hitting back, adding that he was disappointed she placed so little store on the Aboriginal members of the Australian Parliament.
When Teela hit back with: "It's because they represent their political interests", Mr Turnbull let out a loud sigh, saying "really?".
"What are you saying about Ken Wyatt and Linda Burney? They're First Australians," he replied, getting on the offensive.
Teela said: "I totally respect their positions in Parliament ... but they don't represent the interests of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people."
Mr Turnbull went even harder asking: "What are you suggesting - they are tokens?".
"Absolutely not what I'm saying at all," she replied.
Mr Turnbull then tried to nail his point saying: "I think it's very important tonight that we respect the Aboriginal members of the House (of Representatives) and the Senate ... I respect them and I think all Australians should too".
The woman was left defending her position with a simple "As do I" before discussion thankfully moved on.
How paternalistic and offensive is #Turnbull trying to silence this brilliant Indigenous woman. Shows no respect at all & wants her to be grateful that there is token representation. What a douche. #QandA pic.twitter.com/BC23zvH3Y7— Kon Karapanagiotidis (@Kon__K) December 11, 2017
Turnbull's treatment of this audience member is really off. Why should anyone expect Linda Burney and Ken Wyatt alone to represent every First Nations Indigenous person across the entire country. #qanda— Benjamin Law 🌈 (@mrbenjaminlaw) December 11, 2017
Mr Turnbull continued his patronising approach with a man who questioned him about the NBN, noting costs had almost doubled and the rollout was now on hold.
"At what point do we acknowledge that the cost savings do not justify the incredibly poor service and accept the need to revert to a fibre to the house solution that an innovation nation deserves?" the man named Aldo asked.
Mr Turnbull hit back with: "Almost everything you said there is incorrect". Then helpfully said "I'll go through it", reeling off number after number *read the full explanation below.
Aldo politely raised his hand saying: "I'm not arguing, the points you've made are technically correct," he conceded.
To which Mr Turnbull smugly replied: "They're technically correct but in what respect are they wrong if they're technically correct?".
Aldo tried to make his point again saying he didn't feel the rollout was giving Australians the potential to be the best they could be.
"We're rolling out a faster NBN but it's a far inferior NBN," he said.
Mr Turnbull again replied: "No, well, you're wrong, it is rolling out faster and that means more people are getting high-speed broadband more quickly."
All Aldo could do was say simply: "I don't think you're listening to the customer. Most people that I talk to who have had the NBN connected are all complaining about incredibly slow services".
Mr Turnbull probably thought he came out of the exchanges with the upper hand but social media soon lit up with people calling him out for acting like a "douche".
The PM’s courtroom showmanship makes him look like a complete and utter tosser. #QandA— Amrita Tarr (@amritatarr) December 11, 2017
Turnbull tells every questioner they are wrong. Mal-splaining won’t save you #qanda— Liisa Rusanen (@liisa_sr) December 11, 2017
#QandA was a total Trainwreck for Turnbull— John Dunmore Lang (@JohnDunmoreLang) December 11, 2017
Could have opted for gracious, went for smart-arsed.#QandA— The Cathy Wilcox (@cathywilcox1) December 11, 2017
Mr Turnbull ended his appearance with an update about his leather jacket and reassured viewers that it would be back once winter came 'round.
But the shine definitely looks to have worn off.
* "The cost to the NBN has not doubled. The fact of the matter is that if we were to do an NBN on fibre to the premises across the nation, as you know, it would take 6-8 years longer and cost up to $30 billion more. That is a fact. That really is a fact. As far as the NBN is
concerned, it is now available at 6.5 million premises. It has 3.3 million paying customers. It will be three quarters built by June 30 next year, according to the company's plans and they say they're on track to that, and they're committed to getting it completed by 2020.
"The pause in the HFC rollout is in order to ensure premises that are on hybrid fibre coaxials, people who pay (for Foxtel etc) they'll continue to get their services from Telstra and won't be switched over until technical issues have been resolved. The pause in the rollout is about six months."