One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts candidate. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch
One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts candidate. Picture: AAP Image/Lukas Coch

‘I’m the host’: Brutal Q&A stare-down

It only took a matter of minutes before Q&A; descended into howls of laughter from the audience as a One Nation candidate and the host clashed ferociously.

Despite a brutal stare-down between the pair, panellists turning on the audience and a Liberal Senator asking for Larissa Waters' address, tonight's edition looked as if it could have been calm affair at one point.

The fleeting moment of hope at the beginning of the election special from Brisbane Powerhouse came when an audience member asked whether it was possible for politicians to hold a reasonable debate without shrieking or name-calling.

"I want to be civil," said Labor MP Terri Butler at the outset of the show. "I think we can achieve that tonight and everyone in the room can achieve that tonight.

"And I believe in every single one of you tonight, no matter what your politics, we're all going to be civil."

Virginia Trioli and One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts did not see eye-to-eye. Picture: ABC
Virginia Trioli and One Nation’s Malcolm Roberts did not see eye-to-eye. Picture: ABC

She couldn't have been more wrong as tempers flared just moments later and set the tone for the fiery hour of political pantomime.

It began when an audience member asked One Nation Senate candidate Malcolm Roberts whether his party would support watering down gun laws - as was portrayed by One Nation members in Al Jazeera's hidden-camera documentary.

Mr Roberts said that his party did not support watering down gun laws, but host Virginia Trioli was quick to interject - asking what the party's actual position on guns is.

"We want to make it harder for terrorists and criminals to get guns," he said.

"We want to make it easier and more encouraging for good responsible shooters to actually access the firearms paperwork.

"We want to make sure that people who earn a living or who use guns as part of a trade such as culling feral animals, they are able to do it more safely."

Mr Roberts said One Nation doesn’t want to water down gun laws. Picture: ABC
Mr Roberts said One Nation doesn’t want to water down gun laws. Picture: ABC

 

However, Ms Trioli and the audience member who asked the question said they saw this as a watering down of gun laws.

"That's not the case," Mr Roberts hit back. "I'm making it clear there's no watering down. We're making it harder for people to access guns if they're criminals."

"But not for sporting shooters and others?" asked Ms Trioli.

"Correct," said the One Nation hopeful.

"So, some watering down," retorted Ms Trioli prompting howls of laughter and applause from the audience.

The host and panel member then turned to face each other and loudly talked over each other, before Ms Trioli asked what the purpose of the One Nation trip to America in the Al Jazeera's documentary was.

"They did not seek any funding," said Mr Roberts.

"We saw them seek funding," Ms Trioli interjected.

However, the host's interruption did not go down well with Mr Roberts.

"You're interrupting me again," he snapped.

"I'm the host of the program, Malcolm Roberts," she hit back, again drawing loud cheers from the audience.

Ms Trioli had hard time keeping the fired-guests in check. Picture: ABC
Ms Trioli had hard time keeping the fired-guests in check. Picture: ABC

 

"I'm a guest," he said. "I'm a guest. You can look at me any way you want. I'm a guest."

"It's my task to keep you on task," Ms Trioli responded.

From there, the tension didn't ease up and panellists, Greens Senator Larissa Waters and Liberal Senator James McGrath were next to cross swords.

The heated exchange took place when Mr McGrath took on an audience member who said there was a "rising tide" of racism in the Coalition.

"The Liberal-National Party is a party for all Queenslanders regardless of where you come from and how long you've been here," said Mr McGrath.

"As long as you share our values and one of our values is it's inclusivity and we're colour blind when it comes to the colour of your own skin.

"That's the way it should be. And I'm sure the Greens and I hope Labor would agree with that."

"I'm not sure Peter Dutton would," Ms Waters said.

Mr McGrath fired up instantly.

"I beg your pardon. Are you serious about that?" he asked.

Larissa Waters pulled no punches in taking on James McGrath. Picture: ABC
Larissa Waters pulled no punches in taking on James McGrath. Picture: ABC

"Yes, I am," Ms Waters said, as she smiled at her fellow senator.

Mr McGrath then went on a tirade against the Greens,

"This is serious. You've accused my party of taking policy positions based on donations (on the Adani coal mine), which is wrong and is offensive, and now you've effectively accused Peter Dutton of being a racist. That is wrong."

When asked to explain why Mr Dutton is a "racist", Ms Waters pointed to his offshore detention policies - which again threw Mr McGrath into a ear-splitting rage.

"Where are your tears for those people who drowned at sea and were eaten by the sharks?" he asked. "Where were your tears there? So don't come here with your crocodile tears talking to me about what Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison did.

"They made sure the borders of Australia were safe and secure."

Mr McGrath even turned on the audience after a sizeable portion of them clapped Ms Waters after she spoke of the Greens opposition to a new Adani coal mine in Queensland.

Mr McGrath said he was outraged by Ms Waters comments. Picture: ABC
Mr McGrath said he was outraged by Ms Waters comments. Picture: ABC

"You clapped the destruction of the Queensland economy," said Mr McGrath. "You've clapped mass unemployment."

"And so I'm disappointed in that. Very disappointed you'd take that approach," he added, drawing sniggers from some in the audience.

As if that wasn't enough, an audience member poked the bear again just moments later with a question about "vegan warriors trespassing on people's property", and whether the Greens would like it their homes were invaded.

"Look, we are in strong support of the right to protest," said Ms Waters. "That's something that I think makes us a stronger country, but I also acknowledge going into people's homes is a little too far."

Mr McGrath flew off the handle once again, repeatedly yelling: "It's a home invasion."

"What's your address?" he asked. "Put your address out there and let the farmers go to your house.

"That's what's happened to farmers. That's what's happened to farmers that have had these monsters, these eco-criminals invade their homes. Shame on you for defending them."

It was at this point when One Nation's Mr Roberts tried to give his two cents on the issue, but again he was met with a defiant Virginia Trioli.

"Sorry Malcolm Roberts, no," she said, cutting him off. "The question was not to you, I'm sorry."



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