The ABC’s flagship political discussion program Q&A will now just be Tony Abbott standing in a row of empty audience seats asking questions, before running back to the stage to answer them.
It comes following a Government-commissioned review of the program that found the Government’s agenda wasn’t being accurately implemented.
In a ten-flag press conference today, Mr Abbott said the changes were required to safeguard the program’s broad appeal. “This is the best way to ensure Australians hear a wide range of the Government’s views,” he said.
While audience members will no longer be permitted under the new format – a move designed for their own safety – Peta Credlin will be given special access to the studio to ensure the correct questions are asked.
Mr Abbott dismissed claims that the changes represented a restriction of free speech. “We all believe in free speech. But we need to make sure we have the right kind of free speech,” he said.
Former presenter Tony Jones will be replaced with a flag.