Fairness under the gun in a byelection and budget bonanza

But at this point we take what we can get and hope for the best.

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As a people, we ask: Who is holding the gun? And does it matter?

It might be Angus Taylor, the Coalition representative on the Q&A panel, and a man whose job it was to explain the budgetary ministrations of treasurer Scott Morrison, a task often beyond the voluble Scott Morrison himself.

Tony Jones queried: “Angus Taylor, do you think it’s fair?”

Taylor: “I do think it’s fair. Fairness needs to be judged in a couple of different ways.”

The couple of different ways in which the budget was fair or otherwise would be debated up hill and down dale over the next hour with the same enthusiasm adopted by Angus Taylor’s hair – in itself a model of economic equality if you’re into a vague wave that might end in a concrete result.

Columnist Judith Sloan went head to head with Ben Oquist.

Columnist Judith Sloan went head to head with Ben Oquist.

Photo: Q&A

In his corner, Taylor had The Australian’s economics writer Judith Sloan, who early on made the surprise move of turning Q&A into a #MeToo moment in a clash with fellow panelist Ben Oquist, executive director of the Australia Institute.

Australia’s hearts were lifted as Sloan and Oquist went at it, all the while summoning the memory of the prime minister who is probably quite pleased his long tenure preceded having to appear on Q&A.

Sloan: “No, no, no, Ben, just listen…”

Oquist: “John Howard…”

Jones:”“You’re talking over each other, we’ll have to stop that…”

Oquist: “When John Howard was Prime Minister…”

Sloan: “I haven’t had much of a go. I guess because I’m a woman…”

Oquist: “Sorry, I missed that.”

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Sloan: “Well, you would.”

Jones: “Judith is making the point that she’s been cut off because she’s a woman, we’ll go back to her in a moment, finish your point.”

Sloan: “You had a good go.”

Oquist went on.

And then, Jones to Sloan: “What would you like to say, sister?”

Sloan: “Actually, Ben, you’re just talking through your hat.”

And then?

Tony Jones: “I’ll move on to a question from a woman.”

Enlightened, the audience also heard from shadow treasurer Chris Bowen, who had to face the complete cock-up Labor made of its MPs’ dual citizenship problems, and the ensuing bunch of by-elections.

Bowen put on a brave face: “We have four seats up for by-elections and that’s true, they’re not particularly safe seats.”

Bowen posited with a straight face that Labor was “more than happy” to have those by-elections fought as “a referendum on the Turnbull Government”.

Then telling the truth, he also noted that all things being equal he’d rather wait until the next all-in federal poll: “The next general election is the real opportunity for the entire nation to express a view but we’re more than happy for by-elections to be seen through that prism. Delighted to.”

This was less than convincing.

The proper response to questions about the by-election hurricane coming everybody’s way?

“Do I feel lucky? Well, do you punk?”

We’ll soon find out who cops it.

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