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q&a

Qanda – that word won’t mean much to non-Australians. To be honest, it probably doesn’t mean much to a fair slice of the Australian population, either, but I wish it did.

It refers to Q&A, the live panel-discussion television show aired by the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Corporation) every Monday night, in which questions are put to a panel by audience members. Moderated by veteran journalist Tony Jones, the panel generally features five experts or public figures of some kind: political and social commentators, writers, politicians, economists, academics…  anyone with something to say. (This week’s show, for example, featured Australian feminist Germaine Greer and conservative American ‘porn pastor’ Craig Gross, among others.) During the show, twitter comments using the hash-tag ‘qanda’ are also aired, giving it an interactive element.

If you’re new to the country, much of the discussion of domestic politics on Q&A will probably go over your head; even so, the show may be useful in helping to wrap your brain around how Australian politics works and, more interestingly, how Australians view different issues. But it’s not all politics. The topics of discussion will usually depend on the news – domestic and international – of the previous week. Some weeks are politics-heavy; others are dominated by discussion of social issues. Comments made on the show on Monday will often feature in Tuesday’s news media, which makes Q&A required viewing for current affairs junkies. Basically, anyone interested in learning about the Australian political and social landscape should give Q&A a shot.

For a taste, here’s a clip of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard responding to a question by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange back in March 2011 (note – this was a ‘prime minister special’ show, which is why there are no additional panel members):

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You can catch Q&A on ABC1 and ABC News 24 at 9.30pm every Monday night, or watch it online on ABC’s iView after it’s been aired.

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