Q&A Viewers Left Outraged, Confused By Mathias Cormann Sketch
Bet you didn't think you'd see a barbershop quartet of Mathias Cormann lookalikes in 2018, huh?
In the ABC'S season-ending episode of Q&A on Monday night, the show was capped off with a comedic rendition of the Book Of Mormon's famous opening show tune Hello!
In place of the door-knocking Mormons that the world-famous stage musical features, four men dressed as finance minister Mathias Cormann performed a satirical version of the song with mobile phones to their ears.
"It's been an extraordinary but ugly year in politics," the show's host, Tony Jones, said ahead of the performance.
"Perhaps because the deal-making behind the political sausage machine has been so much more exposed than ever before."
The song, performed by members of the Wharf Revue, served as a tongue-in-cheek reference to Cormann's role in the Liberal leadership spill.
Also, Cormann also rhymes with Mormon, so there you go.
But some viewers took issue not with the skit's subject matter, but rather Cormann's portrayal, suggesting the entire thing was racist.
Frustration with the sketch also came from the cutting short of a heated debate about the freedom of speech.
"As a young brown male, who does not drive a taxi, or work at a convenience store, or deliver for senator David Leyonhjelm, I just wanted to know what is the line of what should or shouldn't be said in parliament?" a young audience member asked the panel.
Editor of online magazine Spiked Brendan O'Neill -- who has in the past advocated for free speech so far as to say Nazis should not be censored-- was firmly of the idea that "free speech is absolute".
But lawyer and community advocate Nyadol Nyuon disagreed with O'Neill.
"I don't believe there is anything as absolute free speech," she said.
"I think that all rights that we have exist in a particular historical context but also in contrast with other rights and responsibilities."
Deputy opposition leader Tanya Plibersek said there was a clear difference between free speech and hate speech, before handing her remaining 30 seconds over to Nyuon, after she had been cut off.
“Just because you have a right to free speech doesn’t mean you should abandon courtesy," she said.
"There is no reason to abandon courtesy and for the rest of my 30 seconds I’d like to give it to the person who has experienced probably more racism than anyone else on the panel and let you have your say. Finish what you wanted to say.”
Plibersek's gesture was met with applause, while those on social media were infuriated the important discussion was rushed to an end in order to facilitate the Cormann-inspired song and dance.