'People don't like Jews' - Miriam Margolyes

Actress Miriam Margolyes dominates
ABC's Q & A with controversial comments on Israel, tax reform and
the Prime Minister on Monday night.


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It took until the very end of Monday night's Q&A for the panel to get to the crux of recent national debate. Tony Abbott: Yes or No?

"I think he's a tit," was the five-word summation from Miriam
Margolyes, the call-a-spade-a-spade actress whose response to the
audience question was the shortest, but by far the most memorable, of
those offered by the panel as host Tony Jones passed the matter around
for consideration.

Prime ministerial colleague and supporter Josh Frydenberg,
who wisely noted that "I'm in a minority here", waxed lyrical about his
boss' decency and qualities as a father, husband and upstanding member
of his local community.

"I think he's a tit.": Miriam Margolyes gave the shortest, but by far the most memorable, answer on Tony Abbott.
"I think he's a tit.": Miriam Margolyes gave the shortest, but by far the most memorable, answer on Tony Abbott. Photo: Q&A

This drew the retort from Mamamia editor-in-chief
Jamila Rizvi that if this was all he had to offer, the PM should go back
to his local electorate and hand over to someone a little more
inspiring. Labor's Andrew Leigh passed up the chance to offer his
one-word summation, losing the plot in a rambling, partisan reply that
Jones was forced to curtail; Trisha Jha of the Centre for Independent
Studies tag-teamed with Margolyes, declaring: "The tit is a lovely

It was an earnest edition of the weekly debate program, with
the one true moment of memorable television coming again from Margolyes
in an answer to a question about anti-Semitism. Margolyes – Jewish
herself, British-born but now an Australian citizen – clasped her hands
and declared: "People don't like Jews. It's not comfortable to say that
and it's not comfortable to hear it. But I believe it to be true.

"After the Holocaust it was not fashionable or possible to be
anti-Semitic … but because of the actions of the state of Israel and
the appalling treatment of the Israelis towards the Palestinians …
anti-Semitism has again reared its horrific, ugly head and anti-Semitism
is as unacceptable as anti-Muslim feeling."

As ever, Q&A swerved from such moments of great
power to stretches of mundane political to-and-fro where the duelling
representatives of the major political parties held forth on policy
matters or debates of the day.

The controversy over Human Rights Commissioner Gillian Triggs
got a workout, as did the ever-changing status of the Medicare
co-payment. Tony Jones captured that particular moment when Frydenberg
noted that his Labor opponent Leigh had once been a supporter of such a
policy. "So were you last week," noted the host.

Unsurprisingly, not much came of it – Frydenberg agreed with
Jones that he couldn't add much until cabinet signed off on whatever the
current policy might be. Jones: "You don't know because the cabinet
hasn't told you." Frydenberg: "That's true."

In other words, as usual, wait and see. For Q&A viewers
that means wait until next week – and perhaps the most exhilarating
part of Monday night's program was the announcement of what lies in
store. It's a Q&A first – an all-woman panel, including the
host – with Jones surrendering his chair to Annabel Crabb and a panel
including Germaine Greer and Julie Bishop. As Crabb noted on Twitter
after the line-up was revealed: "Odds of that getting out of control?
Unbackable I'd say. Come along."

It promises to be the program of the year.