ABC to review procedures following Q&A protest

Public broadcaster the ABC will review its procedures in an attempt to prevent protesters interrupting the live political discussion program.

Last night’s program was significantly interrupted after a group students, targeting panellist education minister Christopher Pyne, took over space behind presenter Tony Jones with a large banner and began chants criticising proposed cuts to education funding. The protest saw a tense couple of minutes before the live broadcast cut to music while security evicted the protestors.

“We are now reviewing our procedures to make sure we reduce that risk and the program does what it should do – provide an opportunity for citizens to ask tough questions and get answers from our politicians. Illegible banners and chants aren’t a substitute for intelligent debate,” said an ABC spokesman.

“Q&A already identifies all audience members and puts together a representative audience based on voting intention, but as we saw it only takes a small group to disrupt the discussion.

“We have already apologised on-air and after last night’s program to the panellists and we will be making a further apology to education minister Christopher Pyne today.”

The last major protest on the political debate program was in 2010 when activist Peter Gray threw his shoe at former Prime Minister John Howard. 

“Over the last six years Q&A has become an important platform for Australians to discuss issues of national importance and a valuable opportunity for Australian citizens to question the politicians and others whose decisions affect their lives,” said the spokesman.

“It does that by bringing Australian citizens and our political leaders together and creating a forum for intelligent discussion and debate.

“Inevitably that creates the risk that someone will try and hijack Q&A to make a point. This happened on Monday’s program, despite a clear conversation with the audience prior to broadcast insisting on courteous and polite debate, respectful of others views.

“When the program was disrupted, host Tony Jones condemned the protestor’s actions before the decision was made to suspend the live telecast.”

Nic  Christensen 


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