The ABC is planning a total revamp of its weekly public discussion program Q&A instead of merely engaging a new host to replace Tony Jones who leaves at the end of the year.
Fresh from announcing Sky News’ David Speers as the replacement for Barrie Cassidy on its Sunday morning political panel show Insiders and Lisa Millar as the new co-host on ABC News Breakfast, the national broadcaster is set to reveal plans for a major overhaul of its Monday night flagship program.
The Bug understands ABC chair Ita Buttrose is behind radical changes that will see two hosts replace Jones and drastic changes to the format of the program.
In a bid to placate the re-elected Morrison Government, Ms Buttrose has insisted that once Jones leaves, the program will have two hosts.
“Ita wants hosts who will not spark complaints about left-wing bias from the federal government like Tony Jones did,” an ABC insider said.
“So we are engaging former prime minister Tony Abbott and current Tasmanian Liberal Senator Eric Abetz to front the new show.
“We’ve already had some rehearsals (main picture) and the whole concept shows real promise.
“Instead of a panel answering questions from a studio audience, the new show will consist of the two hosts asking and answering questions of each other.
“We think this will put an end to allegations of bias in the questions and selection of panel and audience members.
“The name of the program will change to reflect the new arrangements and instead of Q&A it will be A&A for Abbott and Abetz. Or Abetz and Abbott, but that’s a whole other story.”
The ABC insider said even though their names would not actually feature in the show’s title there had been “a bit of jostling” between the two men about whose name should go first.
“Eric said he was still a serving politician and Tony had been defeated in Warringah so the new show should be called A&A as in Abetz and Abbott,” the insider said.
“But Tony insisted he should get preference because he had served as PM and therefore had seniority, so it should be A&A for Abbott and Abetz.
“Eric responded by saying the easiest and fairest way to settle the argument was for their names to appear in alphabetical order which meant it would have to be A&A for Abetz and Abbott.
“Tony thought very hard for several minutes and said nothing, just like in that interview he did a few years back with Mark Riley on Channel 7.
“He finally said he couldn’t argue with Eric’s logic so he agreed it had to be A&A for Abetz and Abbott.”
The Bug understands the new A&A program will have its premiere in early February 2020.