If you thought the Q&A controversy was over you’d be wrong. Last night 10-year-old Ashton Platt appeared on the program via a video question that has viewers divided in their reaction.
In the video question, 10-year-old Ashton Platt from Highbury in South Australia explains that he spent his school holidays watching World War II films such as The Book Thief and Woman In Gold.
“What I’ve learnt from these films is that attacking freedom of speech becomes one way in which dictators try to control public debate and thoughts,” he said.
He continued, relating the question to Q&A by referring Tony Abbott’s ban of his front benchers appearing on the show.
“I know I’m only 10, but Tony Abbott scares me when he attacks the ABC and tries to control what we see on it. Should we all be afraid of his attacks on Q&A and the ABC — both things I love?”
An intelligent and thought provoking question from an inspiring young boy. A question that sparked an overwhelming response from social media.
Tweets about the questioner ranged from the positive…
That 10 year old would make a better PM than Abbott #qanda
— Mrs Doyle (@BarbaraHFlowers) July 13, 2015
That is one smart 10-year-old boy. There is hope for the future. #qanda
— Cosette Paneque (@CosettePaneque) July 13, 2015
To accusations of the boy being used as “cute-bait” to voice his parents opinions…
Written by his parents written by his parents #QandA
— L Phillip Lucas (@LPhillipLucas) July 13, 2015
— Yale Stephens (@theredandblue) July 13, 2015
And some even went so far as to assume the 10-year-old was fed the question by Q&A.
— James Stacey (@James_Stacey_) July 14, 2015
Oh come on what 10 year old watches #qanda
— Jenna Guillaume (@JennaGuillaume) July 13, 2015
I thought I was on the fence with this social media debate but after a bit of thought I realised that some kids just fall in love with these topics. No, I wasn’t interested in Q&A when I was 10, but I did have a fascination with World War II, Nazi Germany and Anne Frank. My bookshelf was full of World War II books, I loved history so I can definitely understand how he is interested in such topics.
In conversation with Fairfax Media on Tuesday, Ashton’s mother Suzi said the family were very politically aware,
“We like debates. That’s something that we encourage with our children- to have independent minds and think for themselves.”
Ms Platt also explained the question had been aimed at Malcom Turnbull, but when his appearance was cancelled, the ABC requested they resubmit the video, asking for it to be more broadly targeted to other panel members. She explained that the whole family was involved in writing the question and that the family regularly watched the program.
Obviously Ashton was helped to formulate his question, and I doubt the Platt family ever wanted to portray that it was completely developed by Ashton. It was probably never a secret — people just assumed that it was, like they always do on social media.
I think the real issue here is not how or why a ten-year-old asked the question, but that the question was even asked at all.
Why is Q&A continuing to endeavour to keep this conversation on the agenda? Why not stop the debate? As panel member John Hewson so elequently said:
“The first law of digging holes is when you get to the bottom, you stop digging,” Dr Hewson said.
“You’re still digging. I think we should draw a line in the sand.”
What’s your opinion? Should Ashton have been used to deliver the question? And should the question even have been asked at all?