For journalists, there’s just one rule about the Midwinter Ball: don’t report on speeches at Midwinter Ball. However, there’s nothing in the rule book that says anything about covering heckling during those conversations. And you’d best believe this year’s ball was set off with another scandal.
As reported by The Australian, a women’s voice could be heard yelling ‘Bring back Malcolm!’ from the middle right-hand-side of Canberra’s Great Hall. Stunned silence and groaning followed, before a splatter of awkward laughter.
You’d be almost justified in thinking it could be contributed to some bruised liberal backbencher, drunk and still coming to terms with the leadership ordeal of recent weeks.
Who heckled the prime minister?
But you’d also be entirely wrong. The heckling took place less than a month into Mr Morrison’s prime ministership, while he’s wrestling with one of the job’s tougher speeches. According to The Guardian, the PM was 70% through his speech before the woman once again yelled ‘Bring back Malcolm!’.
This time the woman was identified as Greens Senator Sara Hanson-Young, a guest of departing SBS boss Michael Ebeid. She later apologised, claiming the interjection was meant to be light hearted and left.
For all the controversy over whether the event is, or should remain off the record, the most news worthy thing published in the mainstream media was the off-the-cuff heckling that surrounded the charity event.
By Leah Wallace
Free report: Australia’s right to free speech is under attack! Discover how a select group of Australians want to stifle your fundamental right to speak your mind — and what you can do to help turn the tide. Download this report here.