6/01/2010 06:09:00 pm

Qanda

Posted by Tom French |

I went to see Q&A getting filmed last night with Howie and Dingo in Studio 22 at the ABC.

On the show was Liberal Senator Corey Bernardi, Clare Bowditch, Miriam Lyons, Mitch Grady and Maxine McKew. They were a good group. Everyone spoke rather well. Bernadi and McKew just sounded like politicians who can never say anything much except for the party line. Bowditch spoke like an artist about "listening to your inner ear" and "speaking from the heart", but I generally agreed with her. However, the winner of the night, in my view, was Mitch Grady. He's an "aspiring Liberal" whatever that means, but he was smart, persuasive, and spoke very well. I hope he doesn't become a politician because he won't be allowed to speak well anymore.

It was a rather rowdy crowd. I had some young Liberals in front of me who would only listen to Bernardi and spent the rest of the night muttering that everyone else was an idiot and should shut up. I wanted to kick them in the back of the head. But I didn't because Jesus would not be pleased.

The largest applause of the night followed Corey Bernardi's explanation of why he wants to ban the burqa: "If we think that we’re not going to have a problem in 20 years as the burqa becomes more prevalent, I think we’ve got to think again and we’ve got to nip it in the bud now and say, “Enough is enough. We have a different culture, a different society here, one that is open where you can see people’s faces and you can communicate effectively with others."

He says his argument stems from people using the burqa as a disguise to commit a robbery in Sydney. It seems like a rather absurd reason to ban a burqa, it's not like there's a campaign out there to ban ski-masks and motorcycle helmets. This has to be about more than just public safety. Otherwise you can just ban the wearing of face coverings in banks, police stations and at airport security screening.

It worried me that there was such a depth of approving response in the crowd to the idea of banning the burqa. I'm disturbed by any attempts to limit religious freedom in our country. Just because I'm not a Muslim doesn't mean I want to stop them expressing their faith in the way they believe is right.

Mitch responded pretty well when he said: "I think there’s a very fine line between a country who, through a law, interferes with somebody’s choice by banning the burqa and a country who, through a law, interferes with somebody’s choice by forcing them to wear a burqa... When we’re having these debates, we need to go back to first principles. When do we ban something in a western liberal democracy? ...We have to accept that in a Western liberal democracy we all have rights and freedoms and choices and that those rights are not granted at the whim of the state but they’re granted to us on the basis that we have innate integrity as a human being and so what it essentially means is that rights in our society must apply axiomatically. You don’t need a reason to give somebody a right but you do need a damn good reason to take it away."

The issue of Rudd's back flip on using government funds to pay for political advertising in the mining taxes debate came up. Corey scored some easy points in that one, because poor Maxine is stuck trying to defend something which is clearly the result of Rudd's lack of integrity and by trying to make it out as being in the public interest.

Once again Mitch put it well: "What I find interesting about this debate is that the government seems to think that if somebody expresses a point of view that’s different to theirs, then that is misinformation. That’s not - it’s not misinformation, it’s an argument and as a government you need to be prepared that other people are going to have different points of view. Now, the government has no shortage of mechanisms available to get its message out there: political journalists and what not. If you want to air a political advertisement, then that should be paid for by political parties and nobody is stopping the Labor Party from submitting an ad defending that policy. But the government should not be - whether it was Howard and WorkChoices, whether it was Labor and the mining tax, the government should not be spending money to defend policy and it’s very different to swine flu, which had a clear public benefit. This is a benefit that only serves to try and keep Kevin Rudd in power."

To which the Liberal Senator responded "Hear, hear!" I think he may have only listened to the last line and missed the bit where Grady stuck the boot in Howard.

All up it was a fun night. Probably most fun was being part of live television, I love live TV. And I love politics. But live TV is 1000 times better.

I think I might go back.

Subscribe