Q&A (Australian talk show)

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Q&A Logo.png
Q&A logo
Presented by Tony Jones
Country of origin Australia
Original language(s) English
No. of seasons 9
No. of episodes 311[a] (list of episodes)
Location(s) Ultimo, New South Wales, Australia
Running time Approximately 60 minutes
Original network ABC
ABC News 24 (2010–2015),
Australia Network (2011–2014)
Picture format 576i (PAL)
16:9 DTV
Audio format Stereo
Original release 22 May 2008 – present
External links

Q&A is an Australian television panel discussion program, broadcast on ABC hosted by news journalist Tony Jones. The show usually broadcasts on Monday nights at 9:30, and has run since 2008. Its format is similar to Question Time on the BBC and Questions and Answers on RTÉ.


The program generally features a panel of five public figures, usually including politicians from each of the major federal parties (Labor and Liberal) as well as minor party politicians, media personalities and celebrities, answering questions provided by viewers and the studio audience. The program is broadcast live (in the eastern states) on ABC TV and online, in front of a studio audience. From October 2010, Q&A is also simulcast live on ABC News 24, allowing it to be viewed live across the country.[1] In March 2015 ABC News 24 ceased simulcast of Q&A. When Federal Parliament isn't sitting, the show can be heard on ABC NewsRadio.

The program is broadcast from the ABC's studios in the Sydney suburb of Ultimo. Anyone wishing to be in the audience can fill in a form on the program's website, which as well as asking for contact details, asks some questions relating to the applicant's political views to help "select a diverse and well-balanced audience".[2] Q&A is occasionally broadcast from other cities, with three shows being broadcast from other countries (Indonesia, India and China).


The program premiered on Thursday, 22 May 2008, at 9:30 pm on ABC TV. The program contains closed captions within its broadcast signal.

In 2010, Q&A moved to Monday nights and received a full season of 40 episodes.[3] From 26 April 2010, Q&A introduced a Twitter feed; selected tweets discussing Q&A live are displayed on screen.[4]

Tom Ballard, Virginia Trioli and Annabel Crabb have filled in for Tony Jones whilst he was on breaks.

Notable episodes[edit]


On 25 October 2010, former Prime Minister John Howard had a pair of shoes thrown at him from a member of the audience due to responses on his attitude to the Iraq War. The shoe-thrower was subsequently removed from the audience. Although Howard seemed indifferent to the incident, it was criticised by both Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, among other members of Parliament from both the Government and the Opposition. The shoe-thrower, environmental activist Peter Gray, died of cancer six months later; before he died, however, he asked for his shoes to be auctioned off and the money to be donated to the Red Cross.[5][6]

University student protest[edit]

The show was disrupted on 5 May 2014, when a group of university students began protesting against proposed higher education cuts. The group unfurled a banner over the back of the set and began to chant at Minister for Education Christopher Pyne, before they were removed from the studio while the live broadcast was replaced with footage of a musical performance from an earlier episode. In the lead-up to the protest, Pyne was the subject of several questions regarding education cuts and was heckled by members of the Socialist Alternative.[7]

Zaky Mallah incident[edit]

Controversy ensued following the 22 June 2015 episode when Zaky Mallah, an audience member, posed a question to Parliamentary secretary Steven Ciobo.[8] Mallah was found not guilty of terrorism offences in 2005,[9] and was known to Q&A's editorial team, attending three shows as an audience member since 2011, and twice being rejected as a panel member.[10][11][12]

In his pre-approved question, Mallah asked Ciobo about the possible outcome of his case if it had been heard by a government minister instead of the Supreme Court.[13] Ciobo defended the government's position, saying he would be personally pleased if it meant Mallah was out of the country. Mallah later was directed to respond, saying "The Liberals now have just justified to many Australian Muslims in the community tonight to leave and go to Syria and join ISIS because of ministers like him."[14] Tony Jones ruled the comment out of order, and Mallah later clarified in a piece on Comment is free that he "hates ISIS" and his comments were misinterpreted.[15]

Prime Minister Tony Abbott condemned the ABC for "giving Mallah a platform," asking "Which side is the ABC on?" and saying that they had "betrayed" Australia[16][17] and that "heads should roll".[18] He banned members of his Front Bench appearing on the program,[19] later offering to permit them if the show was the ABC's Television section to News and Current Affairs.[20] The ABC moved forward their plans to move the program, which an ABC source characterised as "the biggest example of editorial interference I've ever heard of".[21]

Front pages of tabloids referring to the incident.

The ABC released a statement apologising for including Mallah on a live event,[22] and the ABC board appointed Shaun Brown and Ray Martin to audit Q&A,[23] and issued a formal warning to Q&A executive producer Peter McEvoy.[24] Martin, a veteran journalist, said that some critics of the program needed "a good lie down."[25] ABC director Mark Scott conceded the producers had erred putting Mallah on live television, but defended the independence of the ABC's editorial decisions[26] and argued there is merit in platforming "views that run contrary to accepted public values” in order to "understand the root cause" of alarming actions.[27]

Substantially negative coverage of the ABC's conduct appeared in News Corporation owned papers, with some changing the ISIL flag to an ABC logo.[28][29] The Daly Telegraph ran the headline "ABC doing the devil’s work...".[30] The Australian said "ABC exists in a parallel universe where impartiality and sound judgment are all but redundant".[31]

Other commentators have defended the ABC. Peter Greste said that Tony Abbot attempted to shut down debate in a crucial area of policy.[32] Johnathan Holmes said that Malcolm Turnbull's portrayal of Zaky Mallah and his views is profoundly misleading, and that Q&A has been prevented from defending itself.[33] Richard Ackland has suggested that "the hysteria over Zaky Mallah on Q&A would make Joseph McCarthy proud".[34] In November 2015, Q&A's host Tony Jones said the Zaky Mallah furore and boycott was based on a 'big lie' [that Mallah supported ISIS].[35]


For a full list of the (approximately) 615 panellists that have appeared, see List of Q&A panelists.


The Q&A program has been criticised by some News Corp Australia papers in a long running and widespread campaign against ABC management and programming for being overtly left wing in the views expressed by its guest panellists, the nature of the questions asked by audience members and the failure to disclose identity and/or political affiliations that some audience members asking questions of the panellists may hold. Criticism has been made in particular that the program presents "a distorted view of Australia".[36] During an episode aired on 9 April 2014, guest panellist Aboriginal academic Marcia Langton claimed Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt had abused a fair skinned indigenous woman and that he was a "fool who believed in race theories".[37] The host Tony Jones made an apology at the end of the following week's episode of Q&A in which he relayed that "Professor Langton publicly said that she does not believe Mr Bolt is a racist, although she profoundly disagrees with and disapproves of his views and statements on Aboriginality. She apologised to him for her comments and, as a result, the ABC also apologises for broadcasting her remarks."[38]

David Marr said in 2015 "The ABC has only created a handful of great shows in recent years and Q&A is one of them."[39]


The most frequently-appearing panellists on Q&A, as of 28 September 2015 (not including the digitally-streamed pilot show) are listed below:[40]

Name Role Appearances
Tanya Plibersek Labor 22
Christopher Pyne Liberal 21
Malcolm Turnbull Liberal 21
Bill Shorten Labor 17
Barnaby Joyce National 17
George Brandis Liberal 15
Joe Hockey Liberal 15
Penny Wong Labor 14
Janet Albrechtsen The Australian 12
Julie Bishop Liberal 12
Craig Emerson Labor 12
Graham Richardson Labor, Sky News Australia 12
Greg Sheridan The Australian 12
Chris Bowen Labor 12
Greg Hunt Liberal 11
Kelly O'Dwyer Liberal 11
Sophie Mirabella Liberal 11
Christine Milne Greens 10
Judith Sloan The Australian 10
Amanda Vanstone Liberal, ABC Radio National 10


  1. ^ As of 16 November 2015. Excludes a webcast-only pilot episode.


  1. ^ Q&A goes live across Australia on ABC News 24, ABC TV Blog, 22 October 2010.
  2. ^ "Join the Audience of Q&A". ABC. Retrieved 20 March 2009. 
  3. ^ "ABC: 2010 Highlights". Knox, David. Retrieved 10 December 2009. 
  4. ^ "Q&A Hot On Twitter". Knox, David. Retrieved 14 April 2010. 
  5. ^ "Cancer claims John Howard shoe thrower, Peter Gray", The Daily Telegraphy, 10 May 2011
  6. ^ "Man who threw shoes at John Howard dies of cancer", Herald Sun, 10 May 2011
  7. ^ "Q&A hijacked by protesters, Anna Burke praises Christopher Pyne". The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 6 May 2014. 
  8. ^ "Terror, Poverty & Native Titles - Q&A - ABC TV". abc.net.au. 
  9. ^ "Oz jihadist charged for issuing 'how-to survive' holy war list on Facebook". Sydney, Australia: Business Insider. 2013-05-18. An Australian has been charged under anti-terrorist laws for issuing a how-to list on Facebook for how young men can engage in holy war without getting killed or ending up in Guantanamo Bay. 
  10. ^ "Q&A: Program did investigate Zaky Mallah before his appearance, Department of Communications report finds". ABC News. 3 July 2015. 
  11. ^ "ABC check found Mallah wasn't dangerous". Sky News. 3 July 2015. 
  12. ^ "ABC producers had concerns about Zaky Mallah, government review finds". Sydney Morning Herald. 3 July 2015. 
  13. ^ "Abbott asks the ABC 'whose side are you on?' over Zaky Mallah's Q&A appearance". 
  14. ^ "Terror over that error". Media Watch (TV program). Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 29 June 2015. 
  15. ^ Zaky Mallah (23 June 2015). "Zaky Mallah: I stand by what I said on Q&A. Australia needs to hear it". The Guardian Comment is Free. 
  16. ^ "'Whose side are you on?' Tony Abbott lashes ABC's Q&A program". 
  17. ^ "Q&A: Tony Abbott says 'heads should roll' over Zaky Mallah episode, orders inquiry". Sydney Morning Herald. 25 June 2015. 
  18. ^ "PM slams ABC: 'Whose side are you on here?'". Sky News. 23 June 2015. 
  19. ^ "Barnaby Joyce pulls out of Q&A as Tony Abbott insists frontbenchers boycott show". 
  20. ^ "PM wants Q&A to shift to News & Current Affairs". Tvtonight.com.au. 10 July 2015. 
  21. ^ "ABC board moves Q&A to news division following Zaky Mallah controversy". Sydney Morning Herald. 6 Aug 2015. 
  22. ^ Richard Finlayson - Director ABC Television (23 Jun 2015). "ABC statement – Q&A". 
  23. ^ Matthew Knott (1 Jul 2015). "ABC board appoints Ray Martin to conduct audit of Q&A following Zaky Mallah episode". Sydney Morning Herald. 
  24. ^ "Q&A: Executive producer given formal warning after former terrorism suspect Zaky Mallah's appearance on program". ABC News. 1 Jun 2015. 
  25. ^ "Ray Martin urged to step down from Q&A review after calling boycott silly". Sydney Morning Herald. 8 July 2015. 
  26. ^ Mark Scott (25 June 2015). "Annual Corporate Public Affairs Oration". abc.net.au. 
  27. ^ "Mark Scott says the ABC is on the side of Australia - in all its forms". 
  28. ^ "Tony Jones: ABC unaware of Zaky Mallah gangbang tweet". 
  29. ^ "The Courier-Mail is running an utterly damning front page on the Q&A Zaky Mallah disaster". 
  30. ^ "ABC doing the devil’s work in giving terrorist sympathiser Zaky Mallah a voice". 
  31. ^ "High time to rein in Q&A ‘wingnuts’". 
  32. ^ "Peter Greste says shutting down Zaky Mallah means shutting down debate". 
  33. ^ "Zaky Mallah: ABC cowers in the face of Q&A fallout". 
  34. ^ "The hysteria over Zaky Mallah on Q&A would make Joseph McCarthy proud". 
  35. ^ "Q&A host Tony Jones says Zaky Mallah furore and boycott was based on a 'big lie' url=http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/qa-host-tony-jones-says-zaky-mallah-furore-and-boycott-was-based-on-a-big-lie-20151122-gl4u8i.html". 
  36. ^ Henderson, Gerard (5 April 2014). "Taxpayers funding Left ABC agenda". The Australian. Retrieved 27 March 2015. 
  37. ^ "The ABC's Q&A apologises to Andrew Bolt for 'racist' slur", Herald Sun, 17 March 2014[full citation needed]
  38. ^ "Q&A Transcript, Monday 17 March, 2014". Q&A, ABC. Retrieved 13 May 2014. 
  39. ^ Matthew Knott (2 July 2015). "Meet Peter McEvoy, the faceless man behind the Q&A scandal". Sydney Morning Herald. 
  40. ^ All programs, Q&A, ABC TV

External links[edit]