David Speers Michael lamb interview
Liberal Party candidate for Frankston Michael Lamb (Image: Sky News)

The Liberals’ candidate for Frankston in this week’s Victorian state election has become the latest lesson in why you shouldn’t do an interview with David Speers without first doing your homework.

Michael Lamb sat down to an interview with Speers, Sky News’ political editor, on Wednesday and promptly secured himself a place in Speers’ greatest hits. In the trainwreck interview, Lamb appears confused as to the meaning of a “tender”. Lamb says that a Liberal government would, if elected, establish a new power station by simultaneously putting it out to tender and letting the market decide without taxpayer funding. When Speers asks what he means, he says “we’re going around in circles”.

Lamb, or his minders, should have known better, given Speers’ track-record with under-prepared pollies.

The fixer

Now-Defence Minister Christopher Pyne will long be known as “the fixer” because of a 2015 interview with Speers. In the Walkley Award-winning interview, Pyne was asked about an Insiders interview where he said 1700 jobs would be cut if the government’s higher education reforms didn’t go through. When he back-tracked, Speers asked how the problem had now been cleared away.

“I’m a fixer … I fixed it by funding it in another way which you’ll find out in the budget,” Pyne said.

What is metadata?

Another Walkley Award came Speers’ way for skewering then-attorney general George Brandis on the meaning of “metadata” while talking about the government’s data-retention policy: “What people are viewing on the internet when they web surf will not be caught. What will be caught is the web address they communicate to.”

How much will it cost?

While then-prime minister Malcolm Turnbull’s 2016 post-budget interview with Speers was described as not quite a train-wreck, “it went as close as you can to having one without an ambulance being called”, as Fairfax’s Michael Gordon put it. Speers asked Turnbull 14 times how much the government’s company tax policy would cost. He never got a number.

Little old David

It’s not just Liberal MPs who come off second best with Speers, of course. Then-Labor MP David Feeney capped off a truly terrible week in 2016 — where his undeclared $2.3 million second house made front page of The Age — with an interview in which he reveled he did not know the difference between the schoolkid bonus and baby bonus, and was unable to answer other questions about pensions and assets tests.

“You haven’t got the cabinet on today David, you’ve just got little old me,” he said.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

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