Malcolm Turnbull Is Getting Dragged For His “Arrogant”, “Condescending” Appearance On ‘Q&A’

It did not go well.

Malcolm Turnbull Q&A

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Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was afforded a golden opportunity on last night’s Q&A to address the issues that really matter to Australians, and to lay out his vision for the future of the country we call home.

It did not go well.

Turnbull was the only guest on the program’s penultimate episode for the year, which was moderated by guest host Virginia Trioli. Over the course of an hour, he took questions on a wide variety of subjects, from Indigenous recognition to the National Broadband Network to the government’s relationship with Beijing.

But the manner in which the PM comported himself did not go down well with viewers, who described him on social media as “arrogant”, “condescending”, “aggressive” and “rude”.

Admittedly, it’s pretty rare for a member of parliament to get a positive review for their work on Q&A. Even so, the reaction to Turnbull’s performance was positively scathing.

Turnbull Dismisses Indigenous Voice To Parliament

Arguably the most tense exchange of the evening came after Turnbull was asked a question by audience member Teela Reid about why the government had rejected the recommendations of the Uluru Statement from the Heart, which called for the establishment of a constitutionally enshrined Indigenous voice in parliament.

The Prime Minister quickly dismissed the idea by claiming — as he has in the past — that such a voice would be the equivalent of a third chamber of parliament, and that the proposition would have “no prospect of success whatsoever” if put to a referendum.

Turnbull went on to say that he was “disappointed” that Reid had so little faith in the Indigenous members of parliament.

“It’s because they represent their political interests,” Reid replied, provoking an audible sigh from the PM.

“Really?” asked Turnbull. “What are you saying about Ken Wyatt and Linda Burney? They’re First Australians. Do you respect them?”

“I totally respect their positions in parliament, but they’ve both got political positions,” said Reid.

“What are you suggesting, they are tokens?” Turnbull fired back.

“I think it’s very important tonight that we respect the Aboriginal members of the House and the Senate,” said Turnbull forcefully, as Trioli tried to move on to another topic. “I respect them and I think all Australians should too.”

PM Confronted On Asylum Seekers

The Prime Minister was also confronted about the conditions on Manus Island and Nauru by an audience member who arrived in Australia by boat.

“As someone who fled Iran, being one of 47 survivors from a boat that sunk with 250 people, I would like to know why you think it is acceptable to ignore the UN Convention for Refugees which Australia signed, which states that people escaping persecution have the right to come to Australia any way they can, including by boat,” said the man. “Why do you think it is acceptable that men like myself, who fled terror, be locked away in Manus Island, tortured, abused and neglected?”

“You signed up with a criminal, a people smuggler to get yourself to Australia, and you nearly lost your life,” Turnbull replied. “The reality is this: if we allowed the people on Manus to come to Australia, the boats would start up again.”

“I want to keep Australians safe,” Turnbull continued. “I want to keep Australia’s borders secure. I don’t want people to drown again at sea on people smugglers’ boats. What we have is one of the most generous humanitarian programs in the world. We take nearly 20,000 refugees a year. But you know what? We choose them.”

“The problem is, when you are aslyum seekers and you’re fleeing your country, there is no option except taking the boat,” the man responded, adding that no border protection policy could justify “torturing people and kids on Manus Island”.

“Nobody is tortured on Manus, and there are no children there,” replied Turnbull. “There are no kids there at all.”

When both the questioner and Trioli pointed out that there had been children imprisoned on Nauru, Turnbull attempted to place the blame to previous governments.

“Kevin Rudd and the Labor Party put the people on Nauru and Manus. My government is getting them off.”