Tensions were running high on last night‘s episode of Q&A, with sparring between Liberal and Green politician guests at one stage so heated they were both chastised by another panellist.
But the biggest clashes of the night were between the show‘s host Hamish Macdonald and Victorian Liberal senator Sarah Henderson.
Ms Henderson appeared on this week‘s show after Q&A was forced to apologise to the Liberal political for wrongly claiming she had linked the Black Lives Matters protests to Victoria’s coronavirus outbreak.
‘WE DO NEED TO GET AN ANSWER’
Macdonald took Henderson to task several times during the broadcast over her answers to questions about the government‘s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Answering a question from an audience member who queried why there had been so many police present during the North Melbourne housing blocks lockdown, Henderson said they had done an “extraordinary job” in managing the situation.
“I can understand the concern, particularly with the public housing towers but the concern, the public health concern was this was going to lead to a very, very substantial number of cases,” she said.
“It is very tough … I saw that with the public housing towers in Flemington and North Melbourne. Despite the fact there were real issues accessing food and getting the care and there were real difficulties. There‘s no doubt about that. There was also -”
“What were the difficulties, as you saw them?” Macdonald interrupted. ”I think we do need to get an answer to Omar‘s question which is about the imbalance he saw. More police, more force than there was support. Do you recognise that was a problem?”
“Well, I‘m talking about the difficulties that (Greens MP) Adam (Bandt) saw first hand in terms of some residents not being able to access food quickly or care that they needed,” Ms Henderson replied.
“And obviously public health officials and the police and the Department of Health and Human Services had to work very, very quickly … police have got to do their job. They have been incredible.”
‘ARE YOU SERIOUS?’ ROW ERUPTS
The first question of the night had come from Dr Stephen Parnis, who called on the country‘s politicians to have a “greater team effort” when it came to fighting coronavirus.
“It‘s life and death. The numbers are climbing and we’re seeing severe cases every day across Melbourne,” Dr Parnis said.
However the doctor‘s plea didn’t stop a tense showdown from unfolding between the panel’s two politicians from opposing sides, Greens MP Mr Bandt and Liberal Victorian senator Ms Henderson.
Responding to a question about why some politicians had pointed to the Black Lives Matter protests as being potentially linked to Victoria‘s outbreak, Ms Henderson denied she had done this.
Instead Ms Henderson said she was simply exposing the “double standard” that had seen the Labor government prohibit some gatherings and not others.
“We don‘t know whether anyone who was found positive actually caught the virus at the rally … but it sent out the wrong message,” she said.
But Mr Bandt disagreed, firing back that what his political rival was saying was “shades of Peter Dutton and talking about African gangs in Melbourne”.
“Are you serious, Sarah?” he said.
“The Liberals have been running around in Victoria calling our Premier a dictator because he wouldn‘t let people play golf.”
But soon one of the show‘s other guests, who had barely gotten a word in at this stage interrupted to say she’d had enough.
I thought we established this kind of political point scoring, this is what the public have said they‘re not interested in,“ said CEO of the Tourism and Transport Forum Margy Osmond, throwing her arms up in frustration.
“You have given us the perfect example of what we don‘t want to hear.”