Shoe throw, David Hicks fire up Q & A

Live television showed it still has fire power when John Howard faced a Q & A audience last night.

One irate audience member threw his shoes at the former Prime Minister, echoing an Iraqi journalist who once took aim at George W. Bush.

Both missed Howard, but unsettled host Tony Jones. Jones ordered the man be removed from the studio.


One of the Tweets published on screen just moments before had even prompted for a shoe to be thrown at the former PM.

Q & A was certainly a lively programme, with several interjectors in the usually-controlled forum.

Howard bristled at some of the questions, including a video question from David Hicks who asked whether he was treated “humanely” while he was detained and tortured in Guantanamo Bay under the Bush Government.

The surprise video question was a compelling television moment in an electric episode.


But Howard was unrepentent, as he was on all topics put to him about his government’s record.

“All we’ve got is two smelly sneakers,” remarked a relieved Jones at the end of the show.


  1. I agree that we have a great country, with freedoms and security many others can only dream about. Howard deliberately used division in order to shore up his power. Whenever he felt threatened he would set one group against another. That division still exists – look at the recent election result – and for that I blame his government. A government is, in my oppinion, supposed to unite the country and lead it – not divide it. That is the source of anxiety and disappointment.

  2. Never been a fan of Howard (squandered a mining boom on middle-class welfare; joined a war of aggression needlessly; played the race card; etc) and I was very happy to see him kicked out of office But the guy is a former PM and deserves respect.
    The shoe thrower deserves to be charged with assault. And the ABC staffer who decided to put the tweet inciting the violence on the screen should lose their job (whether or not it was the trigger for the event).
    Unacceptable behaviour (from anyone, towards anyone). We cannot allow this sort of rot to set in in our public discourse.

  3. @Dan, thank you. You’ve given me the best laugh I’ve had in a long time. Never been called a hippy before! But honestly, if you’re going to throw epithets around, at least know who and what you’re throwing them at, otherwise you end up looking like a bit of a dill. I think you missed my intention, so to sum up: your comments end up sounding as rant filled and judgemental as the wally who threw the shoe last night. He also didn’t want to listen but just have his little spit (and throw).

    My anxiety and discomfort at the Howard years stemmed from the fact that, in my mind, Australia lost its compassion and heart. Clearly he still doesn’t get what “sorry” means. It encompasses much more than simply taking responsibility for an act and making reparation. You can express sorrow for deeds that weren’t of your volition, and help in the healing process. For all Rudd’s faults, he got that, and that’s why the Apology meant a lot to indigenous Australians. Plus SievX, plus Tampa, plus the invasion of Iraq, plus the blooming of xenophobic politics … the list goes on. A strong economy isn’t the be all and end all of what I want to live in. A sense of fair play and compassion is a must, too.

  4. I generally vote Labor and I am not a fan of Mr Howard but I watched with interest last night to hear what it is that makes Mr Howard tick. I thought the interview was very good and gave an insight into the life of the former PM during some very tough times. He also gave credit where credit was due, especially to the Hawke/ Keating reforms. To see someone throw a shoe made me angry. This is the country where we can still disagree with out acts of dumbness isn’t it, throwing shoes is not the Australian way.

  5. @Trix hmm

    Hope you enjoy spending my taxes every week! I find it hard to believe that for 11 years someone would feel wound up and anxious! for what reason!! We had the best economy in the world, we had the ability to vote and discuss any topics, etc. I think you need a dose of reality and try living in a third world country where you don’t have any freedom, then you might really have a reason to feel “wound up and anxious”.

    Before you go on for a rant, yes I have been to a lot of different countries, experienced many different cultures and I am glad I live in this country. We have nothing to complain about! I would love to send unoriginal and hypocritical shoe throwers all to Iraq and they can learn for themselves that they don’t speak for Iraqi citizens.

  6. Paul. K. Blaxland.

    Always thought Costello had the monopoly on smugness. After last nights performance, it seems we have a new contender.
    Congratulations to the former member of Bennalong.

  7. I actually found myself start to feel wound up and anxious again, just like I did for the 11 years Howard was in power. Relaxed and comfortable my a$$!

    @Dan, “these people are just full of hate for anyone that doesn’t think the same way that they do” … hmm, pot … kettle … black?

  8. Where was ABC Security when you needed them? Fancy letting the man throw his hard-earned shoes at the ex-Prime Minister, when it could have easily have been something more preferable like an AK-47 rifle or bazooka, both of which would have done a much better job.

  9. I despise Howard, but this incident defines Q & A for what it is: a noisy, empty forum for petty, militant political tub-thumpers on both ends of the political divide. Between the party hacks spouting pre-fabricated soundbites and the blatant plants from each camp in the audience, the show is all sound and fury, signifying absolutely nothing.

  10. Q&A provided Howard with an opportunity to demonstrate once again how utterly out of touch he was with the Australian electorate on so many issues. Don’t you go changing…..

  11. The shoe thrower wins my vote fro Australian of the Year. Howard reminded all of us of the kind of PM we lived under for 11 years.

    And am I the only one who has a memory – this is the second time Howard has had a shoe thrown to him. He faced the same situation – at Cambridge University last year.

    Yes, it made headlines at the time, but as everyone has such short memories now, no one has mentioned.

  12. i don’t believe anything howard says and when he says his government tried to get an early release for hick. i believe that is absolute rubbish. bush was howards puppet master and howard did whatever he asked

  13. David Hicks deserved what he got and anybody that cheers him should get the same treatment.

    As the for little girl who threw the shoe, well I think it was a little girl as a man wouldn’t have thrown it that badly!! that piece of garbage should go and live in hippy land with all the other hippies. These people are just full of hate for anyone that doesn’t think the same way that they do, which is not thinking at all. The most offensive part of this incident that this loser couldn’t even come up with something original, goes to show his level of intelligence. I hope this jerk enjoys his 15 minutes of fame, he’ll never be heard of again.

  14. That was one of the better Q&A’s for a long time despite the Liberal Party ‘stooges’ planted into the audience which I find ask questions that are a waste of everyone’s time. The show would work better if an audience was more weighted to an opposing viewpoint of a single guest show no matter what side of politics they come from.

  15. Great ep, the Hicks thing was a low blow somewhat – despite what he went through he shouldve thought about that before picking up arms against his own country, also for a “video question” from a “viewer” it looked remarkedly broadcast quality

    Shoe thrower was a disgrace and if they don’t start investing in security at live tv events then the flood gates will be open and we will end up losing this show

  16. all politics aside, Hicks’ question was an amazing piece of live tv.

    I did find the whole shoe-throwing incident a little unsettling, though. the guy was essentially harmless (he had the throwing ability of a pre-pubescent girl), but what if he’d actually caused harm to Mr Howard?

    fair enough, the average Q&A panel doesn’t warrant audience screening or security measures, but the ABC should definitely take security into account the next time they bring in a high-profile political guest.

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