BY SEAN WALSH & SARAH PEART
MELBOURNE — Would politicians survive Big Brother? This was the contentious and very important question posed at a Green Left Weekly fundraising evening held in the Brunswick Town Hall on August 23 and attended by 100 people.
The select panel posed two very convincing arguments resulting in some sharp witted and strategic linguistic manoeuvring.
Well-known comedian Rod Quantock, the "neutral" adjudicator for the evening, ensured the debate was a clean and fair discussion despite attempts to sway his decision making.
Jamie Doughney, a teacher at Victoria University, kicked off the affirmative case by proposing that real life TV would provide the perfect forum for ALP leader Kim Beazley to get down to the nuts and bolts issues that affect ordinary Australians. Doughney suggested that Beazley, not satisfied with two-minute media sound-grabs would thrive on the 24-hour, seven days a week, opportunity to talk about ALP policy.
"Imagine it: Education cuts by the poolside, GST in the kitchen, spouting immigration policy from the shower and union busting from the lavatory. What more could the population of Australia ask for, an opportunity to find out exactly what the ALP stand for. Not to mention the possibility of Kim exposing more than just his policies", argued Doughney.
Speaking against, S11-M1 activist Jackie Lynch assured the audience that even if politicians managed to pass the psyche test Australian audiences would evict all of them in the first show. Lynch used the aid of a jar of lentils to demonstrate this to the audience. After removing Greens Senator Bob Brown from the jar for his progressive stance on numerous issues, and after deciding to eat John Howard and Kim Beazley, Lynch — in consistently quirky style — illustrated how easy it is to make our politicians disappear.
"Marty" from John Singleton's advertising agency tapped into the "Australian" in many audience members. He argued how important a show like Big Brother would be for politicians to further the National Interest and inspire fellow Australians to support those who are looking out for them — Big Business.
Michelle O'Neill, assistant secretary of the Textile, Clothing and Footwear Union, proposed that if parliamentary TV broadcasts were anything to by which to judge, Big Brother with politicians would be as entertaining as a root canal surgery. "Do you ever see politicians smoking bongs or having sex in the House?", O'Neill asked rhetorically.
Democrats leader Natasha Stott Despoja made a special guest appearance, providing an entertaining remix of Britney Spears' song "Not that Innocent". In her neutral, fence-sitting routine she used such sophisticated measures as flicking her hair and exposing her outrageous, purple Doc Martins to avoid appearing to have an opinion on the debate. There were some whispers among audience members about the close resemblance between Senator Stott Despoja and Melbourne GLW distributor Jo Williams.
The negative team — arguing politicians would not survive Big Brother — won by popular resolve.