The first day of the 2016 election campaign was upended by an unlikely protagonist – Q&A audience member Duncan Storrar, who challenged a panel including Coalition minister Kelly O’Dwyer on what he described as a lack of support for people living in poverty. This came off the back of O’Dwyer’s celebration of tax cuts for a cafe owner who had used the bucks to buy a $6000 toaster. Storrar became a social media hero, and focus of a crowdfunding campaign that raised thousands – but also put him in the firing line of a campaign by News Corp that exposed criminal convictions in his past.
THE PRIME MINISTERS
PMs past and present have made their obligatory visit to the Q&A desk, sometime flying solo. John Howard, two years into retirement, did just that and copped a pair of sneakers thrown at his head by a protester in 2010. Malcolm Turnbull appeared in various guises – as backbencher, minister and PM – including once in a leather jacket that became so famous he later auctioned it for charity. Kevin Rudd was the very first guest in 2008. And in 2010, Tony Abbott had a memorable encounter with Geoff Thomas, a man with a gay son, who wondered when Mr Abbott would overcome his “fear and ignorance of gay people”. It was the most memorable of the countless moments in which Q&A debated same-sex marriage.
SHEIKH IT UP
GetUp founder Simon Sheikh holds one Q&A honour to himself: the only guest to collapse live on air. It happened in 2012, with viewers at home uncertain whether he was falling across the desk in mock despair or if he was genuinely unwell. It was the latter. Equally memorable: the reaction of fellow panellist, and former member for Indi, Sophie Mirabella, who copped a twitter pasting for her apparent lack of immediate care. She later said she was simply in shock when Sheikh keeled over.