As part of our series on the art of the political interview, we’ve been looking at some of the most memorable interviews over the years. Some, of course, are more memorable than others — whether that’s for the skill of the interviewer or interviewee, or lack thereof, depends on the subjects.
We’ve scoured our memories and the archives to hand out some overdue awards to the best, worst, most embarrassing and just generally funny political interviews.
Quickest shut down by an interviewer
Peter van Onselen and Tim Wilson, Sky News, 2017
During last year’s same sex marriage survey Sky’s Peter Van Onselen wanted to talk to Liberal MP Tim Wilson about the his party room chatter about the vote. Wilson was having none of it, but neither was PVO, who simply ended the interview entirely.
Sleaziest performance by an interviewer
Charles Wooley and Jacinda Ardern, 60 Minutes, Nine, 2018
60 Minutes’ veteran reporter Charles Wooley raised eyebrows with his interview with New Zealand PM Jacinda Ardern — mainly for the overly sleazy comments about Ardern’s attractiveness, and questions about the date she and her partner Clarke Gayford conceived her baby.
The bad smell award, for the interview that sticks around
Pauline Hanson on 60 Minutes, 1996
The interview with reporter Tracey Curro, where Pauline Hanson responded to a question on whether she was xenophobic simply with, “Please explain”, has never left the politician, who even had a 2016 documentary about her given that name.
The end-of-career interview
Mal Meninga and Chris Uhlmann, ABC Radio ACT, 2001
Rugby league star Mal Meninga went on the radio in 2001 to announce he was standing for ACT parliament. But as he was telling host Chris Uhlmann why people should vote for him, he realised they shouldn’t, and walked out of the interview. As he later told Uhlmann: “When I started talking about myself then, and started to say or try to convince myself that, you know, politics was the way for me to go. But in the end, you know, it isn’t. And I decided this morning, it was the spur of the moment … to be honest with you, this is not what I want to do.”
The master of the walkout
The mining magnate and self-proclaimed billionaire Clive Palmer perfected the walkout during his short political career, expertly manipulating the media for coverage. He stormed out of live interviews with Lateline and 7.30 on the ABC, and hung up on the ABC Melbourne’s Jon Faine on radio.
Mark Latham, 60 Minutes, 2013
It’s not unheard of for a politician to make the move to television, especially for the former politicians’ graveyard, Sky News. Former NSW premier and current Senator Kristina Keneally did her stint on the channel as a host, Ross Cameron and Graham Richardson have both spent time on the network, and NT chief minister Adam Giles has just started his own show for Sky. But the most memorable for us, even beyond Mark Latham’s ill-fated turn at Sky, is his attempt at covering the 2010 election for Nine’s 60 Minutes. In the segment, he gatecrashed events held by Tony Abbott and Julia Gillard, and interviewed Pauline Hanson — an effort that prompted veteran political reporter Laurie Oakes, also with Nine, to criticise the program.
Taking the cake for confusing your special subject
John Hewson and Mike Willesee
The now-infamous interview between Mike Willesee and then-opposition leader John Hewson is widely remembered as the interview to have cost Hewson the election.The complex answer to what seemed like a simple question has given the interview a place in the canon of how not to get the right message across in an interview.