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Why cannot this happen in Australia? « Previous | |Next »
February 10, 2003

This should also happen in Australia. It is Tony Blair being quizzed about his views on the war on BBC Television, and seeking to engage with, rather than manipulate public opinion.

John Howard should appear on National Television where he can quizzed by an experienced and highly skilled journalist and a panel of citizens about his position on the war with Iraq and his political handling of that issue.
It will not happen in Australia will it? A genuine Socratic discussion over the war between our political representatives, the media and citizens. We don't have such a healthy political public sphere in our liberal democracy.

For the American reaction see Calpundit; and Interesting Times

Keiran Healy has an extended post.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 9:19 PM | | Comments (8)


The recent Kerry O'Brien interview with Honest John came pretty close, except possibly for the time constraint. The other thing about the Paxman piece, good as it was, is that it is the exception rather than the rule in British journalism. We have to be careful not to compare the best of overseas with the worst (or even the ordinary) of what happens in Oz and find ourselves wanting. In such ways we sell ourselves short.

I wasn't playing that superior/inferior game.I was thinking of transgressing the limits of ABC 7.70 Report and Kerry O'Brien by incorporating a live and informed audience as was doen under Australia Talks run by George Negus for ABC prior to the 2002 Federal election or some of the Insight Forums on SBS.

What the BBC Newsnight Interview with Jeremy Paxman showed is that you can put both together and so broaden the interactivity.

Crean, Howard and Brown should front it separately so that there could be an honest discussion on such an important public issue.

That would give an oomp to the public sphere. The Australian one needs an injection of something new.

Yeah, I'd like to see that too, but I'd still point out that this sort of thing isn't common in Britain and that Howard actually does subject himself in general to more media scrutiny than either Blair or (especially) Bush. So the "We don't have such a healthy political public sphere in our liberal democracy" is overstated IMHO. But let me agree with you - I'd like to see 'em all lined up in front of an informed public and grilled. And I'd like to see it happen often.

I'd like to see 'em all lined up in front of an informed public and grilled.

I'd like to see them all lined up on my barbecue and grilled that way.

I think Gary's idea is nice but it's not going to happen. Not when Ray Martin's idea of questions for Peter Costello on A Current Affair last night were about the population of Iraq and whether or not Costello prays for peace.


Perhaps one reason is that a lot of Australian TV journos have the idea that a "tough question" is something like "Are you a dictator?" or "Are you corrupt?" Great for big-noting yourself as a hard-hitting reporter on a hard-hitting current affairs show but useless in eliciting information.

Agreed about Howard appearing in the media. He works very hard at it.

I say Jana Wendt should grill Howard over Iraq with a room full of average aussie voters. He'd probably never consent to it, the weasel.


the room full of Australian voters should be able to participate as citizens who ask questions and debate points.

We want to avoid the rent a crowd sceanrio.