“Welcome to Hack Live. Well, almost Live,” ABC2 host Tom Tilley told viewers last night.
“Tonight’s topic is so divisive that ABC management have asked us to bring you this show on a slight delay,”
It was easy to see why management were nervous about the no-holds-barred debate on the recent resurgence in Aussie patriotism. What followed across the one hour broadcast were heated opinions, shouting, aggression and a truckload of disrespect.
ABC management were nervous about the show’s original plan to air Live to Air because of the risk of hate speech. Instead it screened delayed by 30 minutes.
At times Tom Tilley (pictured right) struggled to keep control of the conversation. As one tweet flashed across the screen suggested, this was “Q&A on steroids.”
But as Q&A knows well, in order to have a cohesive debate, its participants need to show mutual respect for the exchange of ideas. Hack Live was witness to monologues largely from its inclusion of Blair Cottrell, Leader of the United Patriots Front (pictured centre).
Cottrell dominated the conversation, often serving insults to Islamic Lawyer Lydia Shelley (pictured left). It took Indigenous writer Nayuka Gorrie suggesting that “I love that your passionate…. but personally I think you’ve got to chill out a little bit. You’re still in charge. White people are still in charge of the country.”
Much of the hour was hijacked by Cottrell who at one point hectored Tom Tilley about the show not being Live. It raises questions about why he was cast on the show if he was not open to intelligent debate and equal time.
Despite the delay Hack Live still broadcast Cottrell’s reprehensible answer to the historic massacre of Australian Aborigines: “So what?”
But the show also fell down on other points, including posting social media comments on screen that were disrespectful to its panelists (including some directed at Cottrell: “Yeah go Blair.. back to prison.”)
Other guests had to wait some 30 minutes before they got to speak.
It took a lot of bluster and airtime to get to considered opinions surrounding patriotism, fear and diversity. And let’s not get started on that boot-scootin’ shirt….
By the end it was a relief to hear Prof Andrew Markus from Monash Institute for the Study of Global Movements say, “The good thing is we’re able to sit around, even though there are some tensions here to discuss issues. Problems occur when you don’t have that. You have people in silos.
“What we’re having is a conversation. I hope that you’ve understood from this conversation that Islam is diverse. It’s not unified.”
ABC2 having conversations with youth (and certainly not all of these were youth) is valuable -just as it was when Steve Cannane hosted the excellent forerunner Hack Half Hour back in 2008.
But as Q&A has demonstrated, it takes a lot of preparation and mutual respect to avoid digressing into a hot mess.