Out Of The Frying Pan


We’ve asked National Affairs Correspondent Ben Eltham to write about every aspect of Australian political life since he took on the job in 2007. He was the first person we asked to take the newmatilda.com 20 Questions Challenge. But did we ever ask him to write about sport? No, we did not. As you lobby your favourite journal of record to take on Ben as a political correspondent, bear in mind his untapped talents as a sports writer.

1. Who is your favourite newmatilda.com writer?
Ben Pobjie.

2. What’s your favourite newmatilda.com article?
Probably the one I wrote for the State of the Cultural Nation series in 2009, "Your Cultural Policy Has Expired". It’s a topic of great interest to me.

3. When did you first start reading newmatilda.com?
At the beginning!

4. Will newmatilda.com‘s demise make any difference to anything? (In 40 words or less. Yes, we know this is the limitless internet, but time’s tickin’…)
It will leave a gaping hole in the Australian online media-scape, in my opinion. There is nothing like it in terms of reasoned, well-researched and carefully edited analysis.

5. Fill in the blank in this sentence: "I’m sad that newmatilda.com has hit the skids because their articles occasionally stuck it to the ___ and those people give me the creeps."
The Israel lobby.

6. What was the newmatilda.com headline you always wanted to read but it never happened?
Rudd Government Adopts Tough New Carbon Reduction Targets.

7. Where will you go for commentary when newmatilda.com stops publishing?
The Edge newsletter remains one of the most interesting things on the internet.

8. Do you subscribe to any online content? What? Why, or why not?
Yes I do. Lots of stuff. Because I enjoy reading quality writing, and don’t mind paying for it.

9. Does anyone have a climate change policy you agree with? Who?
George Monbiot. It’s a bleak prognosis, but then again it’s a bleak scientific reality.

10. Name a political writer who deserves a promotion.
Matt Kenneally.

11. Who deserves a bigger tax break: banks or mining companies?
Trick question. Surely you don’t think either deserves a tax break?

12. What do you see as the most important issue in the upcoming federal election campaign?
Kevin Rudd’s communication skills.

13. What’s the one thing you’ve always wanted to know about Australian politics but were afraid to ask?
Julie Bishop. How is she still the Deputy Opposition Leader?

14. When was the first time you changed your mind on something important?
1985. I decided to become a fast bowler, not a middle-order batsman.

15. What annoys you about journalists?

16. Who should run for public office in Australia? Which one?
I think more intelligent and talented people should run in state elections, full stop. There is a dangerous lack of talent across the back benches of Australian state parliaments.

17. What politician and journalist combination would you like to see stuck in a lift recording a long interview?
Myself and Barnaby Joyce.

18. What’s the one question you’d like both Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott to answer?
Is winning votes really more important than meaningful action on climate change?

19. Is the Australian media getting better, worse, or staying the same?
It’s getting worse, sadly, as the David Campbell story by Channel 7 shows. Newspapers are hollowing out while online media is yet to reach the depth and sophistication of print. It’s not easy to make a buck in this industry, as we’ve found out at newmatilda.com.

20.What question would you like to ask us?
Why didn’t you ever let me write about sport? 

Ben Eltham is New Matilda's National Affairs Correspondent.