It’s not often the ABC’s Q&A panel – loaded with politicians and outspoken guests – agree on something.
But no panel member on Monday night could disagree on what they labelled the Indonesian government’s “barbaric” decision to execute two Australian drug smugglers, Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran, who face the firing squad in Bali.
The panel – consisting of controversial radio announcer Alan Jones, Federal Assistant Minister for Infrastructure and Regional Development Jamie Briggs, Federal Shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen, businesswoman and RBA board member Heather Ridout and comedian and writer Corinne Grant – also squabbled over the Liberal leadership spill, policy and coal mining in Australia.
Audience member Kavita Krishnan is a friend of one of the Bali Nine pair, Sukumaran, and asked the panel through tears: “why kill the rehabilitated?”
“What can you say?” Mr Jones replied.
“It’s barbaric, absolutely barbaric.
“If we had a death penalty here Lindy Chamberlain would be dead – and she was innocent.”
Mr Briggs reassured the audience that the government was doing absolutely everything it could to overturn their death sentences, with Indonesian president Joko Widodo refusing to grant clemency.
“Ultimately they are a sovereign country, and we have to respect that,” Mr Briggs said.
“But we will continue to pressure the PM until we can overturn a very barbaric punishment.”
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Meanwhile, at the top of the agenda was Monday’s Liberal leadership spill vote that brought unsettling results for the PM.
Tony Abbott stays on as a wounded Prime Minister after nearly 40 per cent of his colleagues effectively declared no confidence in him on the vote.
Audience member Nathan Brogden asked: “Is there any hope for Tony Abbott?”
“Tony Abbott won as we all expected to today,” Mr Jones said.
“He has always been underestimated, and is always up for a fight and proven a formidable opponent.”
Mr Bowen added: “Can the PM survive? No I don’t think he can, this is a fatal result for him”.
Ms Grant also piped up and added “I reckon he’s screwed”.
“I can’t see him lasting another 18 months. If he was a boyfrend, you would have dumped him months ago,” Ms Grant said.
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Open cut coal mines and coal seam gas was also a hot topic for the night.
Audience member Brett Farmer asked Alan Jones: “Mike Baird says we ‘absolutely’ want CSG. Luke Foley says that the science isn’t in.
“We know that AGL made substantial donations to the ALP and the Liberal Party in NSW whilst seeking drilling licences. AGL has now proven that they cannot operate these mines safely and within the law.
“How do we convince the NSW Government that this threat to public health must be banned before our clean, fresh drinking water is poisoned forever?”
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“How many times do you have to fail your license condition before the lianes is revoked?” Mr Jones said.
“I have said to politicians ‘would you like to live with a coal seam gas well and an open cut mine at Glouster, in the fertile Manning River Valley where there are dairy farms, would you want to live 400 metres from this’?”
I reckon Alan Jones makes up 89.97685% of the numbers he uses. #qanda
— Stephen Koukoulas (@TheKouk) February 9, 2015
Alan Jones is truly a master broadcaster. Old school. Very charismatic. Few peers in Australia. — Rob Harris (@rharris334) February 9, 2015
— Rhys Holden (@rhysholden) February 9, 2015