Last Night’s Q&A Broadcast Was Hijacked By Protesting Students

The controlled chaos that is a live Q&A broadcast, forever teetering on the brink of utter pandemonium, are usually grand exercises in the sheer depths of human restraint. With only Tony Jones and a small team of ABC staff standing between disgruntled and passionate members of the public and the political figures they have major bones to pick with, it’s something of a miracle the hugely watched Monday night show hasn’t degenerated into screaming matches in previous episodes. Naturally, that’s all changed now. Last night’s live broadcast was briefly ground to a halt as a group of student protesters took aim at panelist, Education Minister Christopher Pyne over proposed cuts to higher education.

Around 20 minutes into the live broadcast, questions from the audience turned squarely in the direction of Pyne and the subject of proposed changes to higher education funding which would potentially attract higher fees. This was followed by a group of students unfurling a banner and halting the broadcast with anti-Pyne chants.
The banner in question was captured later by ABC reporter Jason Om.

The broadcast was briefly taken off the air, with an old episode featuring a performance by Katie Noonan was shown in its place. After the protesters had successfully been evicted from the ABC’s Ultimo studios, the live broadcast returned to the air.
The typically split Q&A audience reacted in a typically split manner. Some praising the students for their gall, others writing off the entire scene as an undemocratic riot.

Whether it was a waste of time, or whether it was a brave, bold step to get a collective voice heard on a live, nationally broadcasted forum remains a subjective matter. But one thing we know for sure is that it’s going to take a lot to rid our brains of the tunnelling tapeworm that is Christopher Pyne’s nervous laughter.

Photo: Lisa Maree Williams via Getty Images.