Every Monday night in Australia over 600,000 people tune in to Q&A on ABC to be entertained, educated and outraged in turns. The lively debate between panellists, the audience, and host Tony Jones has led the national conversation around politics and current affairs since the show’s inception in 2008.
HOW Q&A WORKS
Each week five guests take their places either side of Jones, ready to field questions submitted online or from the live audience.
The panel usually includes a representative from the government and another from the Opposition. The remaining places are taken by people from all walks of life: politicians from minority parties, academics, artists, business leaders, economists, journalists, scientists, sports people, writers and the occasional comedian.
Christopher Pyne and Tanya Plibersek have made the most appearances (24 apiece at the time of writing). Malcolm Turnbull, Barnaby Joyce and Bill Shorten round out the top five most frequent panellists.
There is always a whiff of danger hovering above the set on live television and unsurprisingly Q&A has been the subject of much controversy in its eight year run. The most memorable stunts to unfold on our screens include a shoe-throwing activist, who directed his footwear at former PM John Howard, and university students protesting education cuts proposed by the Education Minister, Christopher Pyne.
In 2015, the then prime minister Tony Abbott banned his frontbench from appearing on the show after audience member Zaky Mallah made comments about Australian Muslims joining ISIS. A government-led inquiry was carried out before federal ministers were permitted back on the show.
And then there was the Duncan Storrar saga, which saw the audience member’s question about tax-free thresholds – and government minister Kelly O’Dwyer’s off-key response – go viral, spawning a crowdfunding campaign that raised $60,000, and a countervailing backlash in some quarters of the media.
#QANDA ON TWITTER
Q&A is just as famous for its hashtag, #qanda, as it is for the on-air drama. Tweets, plucked from the stream and broadcast at the bottom of the screen, are checked for suitability and fairness. But it was a lewd Twitter handle, rather than a tweet, that landed the show’s producers in hot water yet again in 2015.
It’s the job of up to five moderators to keep the #qanda stream clean. See the infographic below to see how many people it takes to broadcast an episode of Q&A.