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We need to talk about Mitchell

On Monday night, I had the pleasure of being one of the first ‘people’ to sit on the Q&A People’s Panel. I had a great time telling Matt Canavan that he has to break up with coal. The one thing I did not enjoy, however, was Mitchell.

Mitchell Walton, one of the other ‘people’ on the panel, is a certified troll. Here is some of his skin-crawl-inducing-work from his now defunct social media feeds:




You might think the point of this post is to call out the Q&A producers for having a person with such deplorable views (yes I chose that word on purpose) on the People’s Panel. But, I actually don’t think it’s the ABC’s job to sanitise the cross section of the community for the television audience. The reality is, there are Mitchells out there-a-plenty. And the scary part is I don’t think Mitchell is as ‘fringe’ or ‘extreme’ as you might think. Have you been on Twitter lately? Watched parliament? The Q&A producers chose Mitchell to represent the right wing of politics, and I think he did that in spades. Sorry to break it to you everyone: Australia is still a very bigoted country.

I got to meet Mitchell in the green room before the show, and he was a fairly nondescript person who showed absolutely no clue of the dark resentful mess that spews into his social media feed. He mostly stood quietly, so I can only presume he was hyping himself up to be as controversial as possible.

It was fairly clear from the outset that he was on the show to bring the bigotry. His video entry mentioned his dislike of paying tax – an amusing statement by an ex-police officer who has a school teacher wife, and I was relishing the opportunity to discuss the inherent contradiction in these positions. But, alas, tax fell by the wayside when it came to his A’s for the Q’s: he brought with him a cocktail of misogynistic and homophobic views in his bigotry handbag (see above tweets), but he chose racism as his priority insult.

His overarching narrative encapsulated the simplistic (and entirely incorrect) scapegoating of every problem in the country as being the fault of non-white immigrants. It didn’t matter when people like me made the point that the Australian economy relies on immigration for economic growth (even the Australian says that!), because Mitchell, I can assure you, is not changing his mind. He clearly doesn’t like black or brown people, and appeared to get a wicked thrill from accusing them of wrecking everything, at every opportunity.

Most of what Mitchell said was a mix between babble and uninformed resentment aimed at immigrants. He tied his argument in knots by trying to overlay overt racism with a patronising tone of conciliatory reasonableness, which meant his statements petered out into vague dog whistling. Sound familiar? Mitchell surely learned from the best of them: Donald Trump. Or maybe he had tutors closer to home – he voted for Australia’s very own Trumpet – Tony Abbott, and said he has considered voting for Pauline Hanson or Cory Bernardi.

And why do you think Mitchell applied to be on the panel? He never said, but I can guess he hoped to build a political following. Perhaps he wants to be a shock jock. I’m sure Sky News would have him. Or, perhaps more likely, he wants to run for parliament – maybe as a One Nation candidate, or side by side with Cory Bernardi. Why wouldn’t Mitchell aspire to lead a nation that has leaders like Matt Canavan, who happily nodded along in agreement whenever Mitchell spoke, and joined his racist chorus in saying:

“But now, today, I’m worried that most of our migration gets concentrated in our major cities and there is a certain ghettoisation in some aspects of this, where there is parts of cities that are different cultures. Now, I want to maintain one culture in this country. We should have… We’re multicultural, but we should have one Australian culture we get behind, and I think it would be a lot better if we could spread our migration patterns around the country, perhaps like we did do in the past”.

Don’t think for a moment that Canavan doesn’t know his right wing base. He knows he is speaking to hundreds of thousands of Mitchells when he says ‘ghettoisation’, ‘one Australian culture’, ‘we’re multicultural, but…’ These are lines straight out of the ‘how to win votes by being racist’ song book. So, the problem is not that the ABC allowed Mitchell a platform. Don’t shoot the messenger. The problem is that the country elects people like Canavan, Hanson and Bernardi, who further embolden the worst side of our country – the Mitchells – to believe their most bigoted ideas and their most offensive thoughts make for great campaign material.

As I said in response to the first question on the panel, we get the government we deserve. If we democratically choose to undermine the values and civility of our great nation by laying down with dogs, we deserve all the vile fleas we get.


47 comments

  1. Kronomex

    Mitchell is playing to the knuckle draggers and red necks and Canavan, at a rough guess, is owned lock stock and coal skip by the coal industries. I don’t expect their behaviour and patterns will change.

  2. Mick

    You, Victoria, have many fine characteristics.

    Saw you on Q&A and was very proud of your performance. My thoughts were, “what a great example of an average Aussie”.

    One of your better qualities is calling it as it is. A spade is a spade.

    And you also display a lot of commonsense. You are polite, contained and respectful.

    There is much much more, but, with all that in mind, would you please consider becoming a politician.

    There’s a drastic shortage of decent people in our current political scene which is in desperate need of repair.

    For Australia’s sake, please think about it.

    Australia needs more “Victorias” in our political system.

  3. helvityni

    helvityni
    July 10, 2018 at 11:21 am
    Too many cavemen/women among our politicians these days: Canavans , Hansons and the like advocating more coalmines…

    The smartest man on Q&A was someone from Zimbabwe,( at least his father was)… There was Canavan and the ex-cop advocating that the most successful multicultural country ( as Oz is promoted) ought to become more Western, meaning Anglo….why not go back to country’s black roots…? What an insult to any foreigner to this country to imply that Oz would be crime-free without immigrants….

    (Pleased that Tanya referred to Leichardt ‘ghetto’ ,my old dining area )

    helvityni
    July 10, 2018 at 11:27 am
    PS. AIM”s Victoria Rollison was good, I’m sure Michae too watched Q&A last night.
    Sorry to be off-topic…

    There you have it what I thought about the program; you Victoria, Teela, Tanya and the bloke right to her were good, but I did not like it that you two ladies were not given more time; Mitchell and Canavan had too much attention from Jones…I confess swearing a lot that night…

  4. Matters Not

    Re Canavan and:

    I want to maintain one culture in this country.

    Hilarious! Clearly no understanding of the ‘culture concept’.

    Is Canavan’s culture the mirror image of Barnaby’s? If there are differences (and be assured there are huge dissimilarities between and among people regardless of their claimed cultural affiliation) do they include endorsement of multiple sexual partners after marriage? Does Matt endorse this practice? Does he condemn this practice instead? What does he think of Muslims who are quite open about such arrangements? Is it possible to be an Islamic adherent and an Australian? What about the Italians? Can they be successful ‘multiculturalists’?

    Where does one find this one culture? In Darwin or Sydney? Or points in between.

    What a profoundly ignorant (but consistent) comment!

  5. corvus boreus

    On Mitchell Walton;
    Someone who routinely projectile vomits vile hate speech on social media (including salacious personal death wishes) is displaying obvious signs of violent socio-political extremism and/or serious mental instability, and as such they should not be given them a soapbox and megaphone by their inclusion in a serious panel discussion on our national broadcaster.
    The ABC should not be using public funds to promote the rabid agendas of such a patent benthic troll.

  6. Margaret Brydon

    I guess I have been reminded why I don’t regularly watch Q and A. I thought Mitchell got way too much air time, and Victoria way too little. Mitchell was let run uninterrupted for way too long. Between him and Canavan, who was also let speak at length, Victoria wasn’t even asked to comment on some areas. I’m glad she interjected anyway.

  7. Regional Elder

    I thought the comment of the night was Teela Reid’s suggestion that the show would be more interesting if an Indigenous woman was chairing Q& A. instead of Tony Jones.
    Jones does tend to give more than equal airtime to male conservatives on the panel, be they from the Liberal Party, The Murdoch Press or the IPA.

    Have to agree with Teela Reid on this.

  8. Regional Elder

    And good on you Victoria for a strong performance last Monday evening’s Q &A and for this article which contextualises more, that other panellist Mitchell ‘Whatever ‘ , whose comments were alarming in their jingoistic simplicity.

  9. roma guerin

    Oh my goodness! That was THE Victoria Rollason! I missed the names at the beginning. No wonder you came across so well. Love your writing in AIMN. As for the bloke in question, I had no idea who he was in his real life, but if social media is his thing, I send a brickbat to the QandA selection panel. They would have looked him up, surely. This was supposed to be “the people’s panel”, sure, but giving him one of only four seats (assuming they were to kind of, roughly, represent 25% of the people) does not sit well with me. I have another beef – “the people” became this bloke and Matt Canavan, thanks to the good offices of the interlocutor. Tony Jones went out of his way to give both guys front running, and almost crawled to them to give their opinion on almost every question, thus ensuring that the others were lucky to get a word in before “let’s move on”. Kumbi and Teela made me proud of young Australia and Tanya always speaks well, but they were sidelined in my opinion.

  10. Stephen G B

    Very good Victoria, cannot really add to what you said and to those comments made by others, about the show, yes you aquitted yourself very well, please do consider a parliamentary career.

    I would like to say though that Mitchell displayed his pure ignorance, bigotry, and xenaphobia etc very well. He reminded me that after 40 years in Australia I have not changed my mind from my first thought in 1978, Australians in general are racist, bigots and bullies.

    Sorry to my friends who are Australian but that has been my experience! YES I have known numerous very decent Australians, but I have found to many discribed above to be the minority.

    Stephen G B

  11. Cool Pete

    Australia has NEVER been monocultural! The First Nations Peoples were multicultural and the First Fleet was multicultural! Mitchell Walton represents grubs worse than Hanson, if that’s possible.

  12. Loz Lawrey

    I really enjoyed your contribution on the show, Victoria. I often read your articles and didn’t realise it was you on the show until I read this! The troll revelation about Mitchell doesn’t surprise me. Every time I see the posts of trolls with their hatred and spite, I feel such shame, as if just by also being Australian I’m somehow responsible for their bile. Where do these hateful mindsets and attitudes come from? Murdoch and political spin doctors have dragged our nation into the gutter. Anyway, I always appreciate your voice of reason. Australia needs more of it.

  13. Melinda Losh

    Go Victoria, my favourite part of the show was your presentation of your power bill. It was obvious that ideological worshipping of one product and one industry left Matt Canavan without any common sense answers to the questions around affordable energy.

  14. Keith

    It was a great strategic point you made Victoria in providing a copy of your power bill to Canavan.
    I have no comprehension of how the LNP can claim that coal fired power stations will provide cheap energy. It is true that once all the costs of previous built coal stations provide much cheaper energy than those to be built.
    Mitchel and Canavan were a dead loss. All other panelists presented enlightened points.

  15. Lawrence Winder @shanewombat)

    Well done on QandA VR.
    And as others have said, Canavan and Mitchell were laughable… particularly The Italian Job, still blaming renewables for the SA blackout…as for the other, what seething hate was bubling just under the surface…

  16. Christian Marx

    Why did QandA allow this monster on without a thorough background check?
    Very telling. It is no longer our ABC. ;-( This country continues to slide onto the abyss.

  17. Christian Marx

    The elephant in the room is Neoliberal capitalism. Conservative shills like Mitchel know this, which is
    why they continue to propagate hate and fear against minorities, in order to distract from the
    wholesale theft by the establishment from the working class. Scapegoating minorities sadly works. The Nazi`s
    brainwashed an entire nation with this technique, and conservtives have used this tactic ever since.

  18. paul walter

    So the dumbing down continues apace?

    Shows I used to view with admiration now just don’t even make it to my attention. The dominant thinking is the pervasive presence of the sanitising anti concentration “disruptionist” mode that now permeates what passes for thinking involving ABC executives imported from Ten network fresh from their latest reality TV triumphs.

    They want to wear down resistance to Murdochised ABC, rid of shows like “Checkout” that challenge viewers to think constructively about the world they must live in…they want a Stepford world and viewers the increasingly lobotomised Guinea pigs.

    No, the gimmicks now precede the shows, appearance, substance and the Baudrillardian nightmare rides roughshod over truth and reality, as you would expect in a country dominated by people like Rupert Murdoch and Malcolm Turnbull with only consent manufacture operative.

    DO consider the mentality that seeks to impose this. Frightening, isn’t it?

  19. Keith

    There have been major blackouts in Queensland and other States, you don’t hear Canavan talking about those.

  20. Kaye Lee

    This cretin admitted that he didn’t even vote last election. I sure hope they fined him. He is “semi-retired” at age 52 yet whinging about having to pay tax. I wonder where he thinks his pay as a policeman came from. He said his “critique” involved solutions. What codswallop. He was given way too much time and he showed himself to be completely bereft of any ideas and just full of waffling misdirected hatred. He purported to represent the views of “middle Australia”. Perhaps he meant middle ‘Reclaim Australia’. Whoever did the vetting for this show really stuffed up with that guy. Or perhaps there just aren’t any intelligent right wingers around.

  21. Kaye Lee

    Oh and on the ex-policeman thing…..according to his facebook page, it was a very brief tenure 30 years ago.

    Started New Job at New South Wales Police Force
    1986
    Walgett, New South Wales, Australia

    Left Job at New South Wales Police Force
    1989
    Walgett, New South Wales, Australia

  22. Matters Not

    Interesting article from Krugman re how sometimes that nonsense you created comes back to bite you:

    The thing is, big business is reaping what it sowed. … decades of cynical politics … the tacit alliance between businesses and the wealthy, on one side, and racists on the other, that is the essence of the modern conservative movement …

    For a long time business seemed to have this game under control: win elections with racial dog whistles, then turn to an agenda of tax cuts and deregulation. …

    obvious case is climate change, where conservative organizations, very much including the chamber, have long acted as “merchants of doubt,” manufacturing skepticism and blocking action in the face of overwhelming scientific consensus.

    Not to put too fine a point on it, it’s hard to pivot from “pay no attention to those so-called experts who say the planet is warming” to “protectionism is bad — all the experts agree.”

    Well worth a read in full.

    http://johnmenadue.com/paul-krugman-big-business-reaps-trumps-whirlwind-new-york-times/

  23. James Cook

    I’m sorry I’ve vowed not to watch Q&A … Well, sort of sorry. I missed you Victoria and it appears that’s my loss, but the reason I no longer watch the show is because of the anger I feel towards the Canavans and “Mithchells” that appear. My blood pressure shoots to the roof and my TV is in mortal danger…from me! Thanks for the article though. And thanks to all the people who comment. I learn more from the AIMN than any other news source.

  24. diannaart

    @ Victoria

    I only caught the last half of Q@A on Monday – but in time to watch you neatly skewer the execrable Canavan – I do believe renewables will win out, in spite of all the efforts to the contrary. People will vote with their wallets even if they do not give a rat’s about climate change.

    Unfortunately I saw too much of Mitchell – I guess he was there for “balance” – poor old Aunty – has to prostitute herself for mere scraps at her age.

  25. metadatalata

    Whoever it is at ABC that decides the ‘Balance’ of panelists needs to step outside the studio and smell some fresh air. It is like the age-old argument of choosing a balance of panelists for a debate about climate science where it could be argued that the current ABC board would select equal numbers of scientists versus equal numbers of LNP politicians and IPA members peddling coal and gas while the world is burning.

    They should at least look carefully at the guests and their associations with corporations and political interests that have spruiked lies during their time on the Q&A panel as shown by Fact Check and penalise those groups at the top of the lie list. Or at least shut down dishonesty instead of letting these shonks continue at the expense of other panelists considered contributions.

    If you had a retrospective arrangement, the panel might then truly represent the rest of us that value truth, science, education, critical thinking and a progressive caring society.

    Nice work Victoria.

  26. helvityni

    We need women like Victoria and Kaye Lee to get into politics, you would do so much better than say Michaelia and Kelly…not to speak of Pauline…

  27. helvityni

    Yes ago I was roped into going on a pig-hunting/camping trip; the latter was fine, never saw anything even slightly interesting in shooting anything…For the trip back to Sydney we needed to bye some petrol, the place was Walgett, the shop was dingy and dark, the woman in shop kept reorganising non existing items on the shelves, her back turned to us, the customers…

    The trip would have been even worse, had I met Mr Walton in Walgett…

  28. diannaart

    @metadatalata

    The ABC needs support from the incumbent federal government instead of death by 1000 cuts – which WOULD be a breath of fresh air.

    Not sure you grasped the irony – which is why I typed “balance” with quotation marks and included Aunty’s compromised virtue.

    But thanks for the explanation – probably no one understood and your ‘splaining has helped multitudes.

    🙂

  29. Wun Farlung

    The look on Canavan’s face when you pulled out the power bill was worth enduring the rubbish the red neck panellist was littering the show with
    Onya Victoria

  30. totaram

    I don’t watch Q&A because…I went back and looked up this particular one and I was reinforced in my view. This man Matt Canavan lied through his teeth about power prices and no one stopped him. Good one you Victoria, but you could have stopped him in mid sentence with his lies about SA. What about blackouts in Queensland? And about gas prices: how come they are cheaper in Qatar and Japan? How come Qatar earns ten times the royalties for the same amount of exports? Etc. Etc. People on this blog know all the facts, but this fellow gets away with bullshit all the time.

    As for Mitchell, people in the audience laughed at him, and Tony Jones had to step in. I do believe it is good to expose these morons to derisive laughter, so that they realise that what they are saying isn’t seen as commonsense by most people. Of course, they will go away believing the audience was “stacked with lefties”, but what the hell, at least some people get to see these loons for what they are. In my view exposing them for the morons they are is good. Don’t vet the panellists to remove the loons. But that is my view, and it is based on the assumption that most people are ultimately sensible, and will see these people for loons, but I may be wrong.

  31. Victoria Rollison

    Thanks for all the lovely comments!

  32. paul walter

    What totaram says.

    The moderation can be baffling.

  33. New England Cocky

    Oh dear … I have lived too long in the shadow of National$ politics, or rather self-serving political inactivity, that I had become very skeptical …. Some rules from the paddocks of National$ politicians:

    National$ prefer Adulterers … ask MacKenzie and Lambda;
    Women who support Adultery support National$ … ask MacKenzie and Lambda;
    Self interest is far more important than community progress … check out the demands by Barnyard on the Parliamentary Allowances Scheme;
    The optimal future is as a 19th century colonial outpost of a failed and demoralised British Empire that abandoned Australia to join the EEU in the 1960s .

  34. Patagonian

    I think most trolls are sad, nondescript little dweebs. That moron ‘comedian’ Andy Nolch who defaced the memorial to Euridice Dixon being a classic example. They reek of desperation.

  35. guest

    Victoria,

    well done. You gave Canavan an embarrassing moment, but it will be like water off a duck’s back. We all saw how he politicised the SA outage event, even though it has been explained numerous times. People like Canavan live in an echo chamber where they hear only what they want to hear. Anything contrary to their view is forgotten faster than a goldfish forgets. Walton also exhibited a narrow view of culture, a subject which no one can define in any satisfactory way. Not even the Murdoch scribblers can define what being Australian means, not even in terms of Western Civilisation, which is multicultural and not a single national entity.

    But that idea of culture is not the only idea causing headaches. Climate Change is another – and I quote this “Last Post” from the WE Australian:

    “Would the ‘believers’ in man-made climate change please provide some checkable evidence for their smug statements? I believe in the climate change which has been with us for several billion years and we have as much chance of changing it as we do reversing the ageing process.”

    It is rather ironical that the author writes to the Murdoch media where no one is going to enlighten him about Climate Change.

    But more interestingly, he has been able to immune himself from anything which has been said about evidence of effects of Climate Change. He seems to have heard something, which he describes as “smug statements”, while his denial is not smug in any way, is it?

    I cannot believe that people air this kind of ignorance in public. To think there is just one continuous climate change is a strange view, when usually even deniers speak of different climate changes. Nor does he seem to understand that the speed of the current climate change is what concerns scientists. No doubt he would deny that humans have had any influence on this present climate change.

    All the details are widely available, yet people like this do not make the effort to seek out the facts for themselves, to at least try to understand what scientists are saying, and not simply dismiss it as “smug”. If he did take the trouble, I am sure he would be less “smug” himself.

    Unfortunately there are plenty of people like him in this country. What is it that does this? Media? Education? Vested interests? Contrariness? Bog ignorance? Tyranny of distance? Heat?

    Even business, insurance, farmers etc are telling us we need to act – and they themselves are working towards reducing emissions, while some media and politicians fiddle about in a muddle – as this person seems to be doing.

  36. jimhaz

    Andy Nolch is apparently an “independent scientologist”.

    Every person who is a scientologist has a mental disorder.

  37. jimhaz

    [Teela Reid’s suggestion that the show would be more interesting if an Indigenous woman was chairing Q& A]

    I turn the channel over whenever an indigenous person is talking. They always say practically the same thing, often in a long winded egotistical way, and turn a conversation about something else into something about indigenous people.

    Your viewpoint is a silo based one.

  38. guest

    I find your comment offensive, jimhaz.

  39. jimhaz

    Multiculturalim is the lure used to sedate the existing population. It is capitalistic rubbish used to prevent Australians protesting about very high immigration levels that destroy Australianness.

    If you do not notice that the vast majority of people continue to have a preference for their own kind, you are blind.

  40. jimhaz

    [I find your comment offensive, jimhaz]

    Charge me under 18c then. What I said was the truth in relation to my viewpoint.

    If you do not notice that the vast majority of people continue to have a preference for their own kind, you are blind.

  41. Kronomex

    Jimhaz, the mental disorder comes from the Scientology regges continually hammering your for money and “donations.”

    Have a look at (just to name two sites)

    https://www.mikerindersblog.org/
    and
    https://mncriticalthinking.com/

    I also get the feeling that “guest” @ 3.57 pm may well be a Hubbardite.

  42. jimhaz

    @Kronomex

    I presume Guest was commenting on my negative QandA related post.

    I’m feeling too Mark Lathanish today (as in negative existential rebelliousness), so I’m not going to make any more comments today.

  43. guest

    jimhaz and Kronomex,

    do not try to label me with your own shibboleths.

    The plain fact is we have been silencing Indigenous people for over two hundred years. The most recent egregious example is out Prime Minister’s knee-jerk rejection of the Uluru Statement.

    And of course you have the right to your own viewpoint and I have the right to mine about Indigenous people. Just as I obviously do not agree with your conspiracy theory about multiculturalism being “capitalist rubbish”.

    That “people have continued to have preference for their own kind” looks like an attempt at justifying racism.

    In my experience, people are people whatever their race. If you have preference for Anglo-Saxons, I suggest you seek out the various groups which came over time to make up the population of the United Kingdom.

    If “Australianness” is destroyed by immigration, then that kind of “Australianness” is not worth keeping. Australianness is always evolving, otherwise it will be at the back-end of history.

  44. Kronomex

    Guest, (@4.55 pm). Congratulations on twisting my comments about Scientology into an attack on mutliculturism and indigenous people. I was solely replying to Jimhaz’s comment about Scientology and nothing else. Everything else he said I found reprehensible and have commented a number of times about his bigotry. Go back and look.

    Next time read carefully what someone has said before making a rash statement.

  45. guest

    Kronomex,

    Here is what you said: “I also get the feeling that “guest”@3:57 may well be a Hubbardite.”

    That bit from you and the reference to ‘mental disorder’ I did not like. I should have answered separately, but assumed you and jimhaz are buddies in your comments about Scientology. The bit about multiculturalism I know is jimhaz’s. Sorry about confusing the issue in the one comment of mine.

  46. Glenn Barry

    Great article Victoria – and to imagine that Mitchell Walton used to be a copper in a small country town, can you imagine what that would have been like.

    I wonder why he left the force?
    And was his departure voluntary or mandatory?

    Anyway you dealt incredibly well with Canavan.

    I posted on twitter at the time that Mitchell was going to be running under the Bernardi banner within three months, I’ll reaffirm that prediction because I believe he was reciting off of script, though the hate and ignorance was all his to begin with

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