“SUBMARINES ARE THE SPACESHIPS OF THE OCEAN” (And Other Things We Learned From Last Night’s #QandA)

It was the best of times, it was the blurst of times.

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Love it, hate it, or hate on people for also hating it, #QandA is back for another season. Returning last night to your ABC and Tweetdeck, the panel featured break-away PUP senator, Jacqui Lambie; Deputy Nationals leader Barnaby Joyce; Queensland MP and former Treasurer Wayne Swan; Queensland Greens Senator Larissa Waters; and former Deputy Labor Party-turned-Independent senator John Madigan. They fielded questions on the recent Queensland election, the will-they-or-won’t-they leadership spill, foreign investment, economic reform, and Peta Credlin.

The episode was notable for a few reasons. The most glaringly obvious was the sinister new set, which looked like the inside of a cat’s stomach if it had been occupied as the HQ for a high-powered team of super-villain mice.


“Welcome to my gut lair,” said mouse-king Tony Jones, as he twisted his mouse moustache wickedly.”

Try as it might though, the new look couldn’t distract from the show’s tiresome format — which becomes especially cringeworthy each time the panel is stocked with politicians only.

Twitter will be emphasised more this year, too. Twitter seems unhappy about that.

So thank you, then, to the programming Gods for dropping a couple of live-wires in the mix.

Former Palmer United senator Jacqui Lambie was as effervescent as always, proving yet again to be a highly watchable caricature of herself, and an outspoken adversary of pretty much everyone — but especially Barnaby Joyce.

“H8 U, BB.”

At one point, the panel was asked how long they thought Abbott had left. Wayne Swan gave him until the next budget: “The sooner this is over, the better”. Larissa Waters, who kept her cool throughout, also predicted he’d be getting the boot “imminently”, while Lambie rubbed her hands together gleefully, envisaging the PM’s demise.

“I’ve said all the way along, he won’t make it, he won’t make it to the end. He’ll be lucky if he makes it to the end of the week, that’s the first thing,” she jeered. “And if these blokes had any common sense, and want to move forward and get on with it and have half a chance of winning the next election, they’ll be getting rid of him immediately.

“I imagine Bill Shorten’s sitting there going, ‘Yippee, yippee leave him there / Leave him there’. He’d be sitting there smirking from ear to ear.”

Another strong Lambie moment came towards the end of the episode, when an audience member questioned the wisdom of a Government that was seemingly scapegoating one of the only visible women it had, Peta Credlin, for all of Abbott’s mistakes.

Tony Jones extended the question to apply to Rupert Murdoch, and his now-infamous tweet:


“Rupert Murdoch has the right to express his views like anybody else on Twitter,” said Joyce, cheerleading News Limited for being a cheerleader for News Limited and not being a cheerleader for the Government, who Joyce was also cheerleading. Lambie, on the other hand, wasn’t so sure.

“It’s about time Murdoch stayed the hell out of politics in Australia, that’s the first thing he can do,” she said. “That’s a low attack on Peta Credlin, it shouldn’t have been done. Murdoch, you got it wrong, you backed the wrong man, and now he’s going down. Do you know what? Suck it up, mate.”

“…Bet I don’t get in The Australian tomorrow,” she laughed.

“I reckon you will,” Barnaby laughed back. 

<3 U BB.

But perhaps the strangest moment of the night came from John Madigan, a man so old-school in his conservatism that the party he based his political career on has a Wikipedia page that’s written in past tense. When the “knightmare” controversy reared its topical head, Madigan was perplexed.

“I’m just gobsmacked at how much time is being wasted on this. We’ve got crises around the country in manufacturing, in farming, in the Murray Darling basin, the family law court. There are so many issues in this country that are affecting lives … and we’re obsessed about a mistake made by the Prime Minister in awarding an honour to the Queens Consort,” he said. So far so good.

“But I can tell you what, if you go out into rural or regional Australia … and you talk to the people who are losing their jobs, and you talk to the people that are concerned about our naval ship building, and the submarines — these are the issues that people are worried about,” he said. Mostly, it was a fair point. Except for the bit about submarines. No one saw that coming.

And he went on, ramping up in both volume and emphasis. “And when we talk about the subs, it absolutely bloody well astounds me that the rest of the world, our major competitors like Japan and Germany, these countries have been building submarines for over a hundred years,” he said, a little too loudly now. “And from ground zero, we built the Collins-class submarines!”

“SUBMARINES!” he shouted, “Are the spaceships of the ocean!”

Ahh yes, a wonderful phrase — and ABC News have looped for your viewing pleasure. Enjoy.

Q and A airs at 9.35pm on ABC, and you can watch last night’s episode in full on iView. Next week’s panel features Alan Jones, so yep, that should be fun.