Tina Harris, five years along into recovery from a car accident, came to Monday night's Q&A with a question and a challenge for Australia's politicians. It was provocative, made a certain amount of sense – and at least one pollie, caught on the hop on live television, went along with it.
Whether Fiona Nash, the National Party senator and assistant health minister, comes to regret it remains to be seen, but Ms Harris had made her point.
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Q&A: Would politicians give up private healthcare?
Rural Health Minister Fiona Nash and Shadow Health Minister Catherine King respond to a Q&A audience member's challenge to stay off private healthcare while in office. Vision courtesy ABC.
It began straightforwardly enough, relaying a common enough story with a twist in the tale.
"After a serious car accident I've had the unenviable experience of multiple hospitalisations and surgeries," she said.
"Almost five years down the track, I can tell you that our public hospital system is broken, and it's getting worse. Knowing that nothing will get done while our politicians are able to by-pass the mess of public hospitals and go to wonderful private hospitals for their own health treatment, I would like to propose that politicians cannot use private healthcare whilst in office."
There came an enforced pause, allowing for audience applause and some awkward laughter from the panel, but Ms Harris wasn't done.
"In fact, I would love to see them on waiting lists for three years long and in hospitals where the toilet and wards are filthy and even privacy curtains are in short supply. My question to the panel is: would you agree to use the public health system whilst in office?"
Labor's Catherine King, shadow health minister, was first of the two politicians to take the question – and she got away without directly answering it.
"I have used the public hospital in my electorate when I gave birth to my babies, so it is a little while ago, so I certainly think we've got a great public hospital system," was King's response, before launching into a litany of all the ways in which she thought Labor's hospitals policy was being trashed by the current government.
Host Tony Jones then turned to Nash, who opened with defence.
"Our public hospitals, out in rural and regional areas where I am, are by and large fantastic and I get really sick and tired of people talking down our hospitals and our doctors and our nurses who work so hard out in rural and regional areas.
"Second point is, out in rural and regional areas private hospitals aren't even an option. I spent many years ago with pneumonia in our local hospital and they were absolutely fantastic.
"But in answer to your question? Yes."
Jones: "Which part of the question?"
Nash: "If she wants me to go off private health insurance while I'm in parliament, sure."
Jones: "And how many of your colleagues do you think will go along with that?"
Nash: "That's a question for my colleagues."
Yes it is, and one imagines most of them won't be thanking Nash when they find themselves confronted with it and having to match her commitment.
That is the single best thing I have ever heard on #qanda - politicians would be banned from using private health insurance while in office.— Jenna Price (@JennaPrice) February 8, 2016
Why stop there? I'd love to see politicians use public transport! #QandA— Steve Lopez (@slopezAU) February 8, 2016
That's what happens on live television, under bright lights, under pressure – you find yourself saying things that are going to get you all sorts of odd looks in the party room the next day. We saw it on Q&A last year, when Joe Hockey agreed in the heat of the moment to ditch the GST on tampons, and now we have a rash Nash promise to ponder.
And Tina Harris wasn't done yet. After Nash and King had exchanged barbs in a debate over the current state of health policy and who was to blame, Jones threw back to the questioner – who, seeing that she had been given an inch, decided to ask for a mile.
"I would invite you, Fiona, to join me in a little visit to Royal Melbourne, to Footscray Hospital, Sunshine Hospital, come with me and I'll show you the areas that I mean, not the nicely cleaned up ones that you see."
Once bitten, twice shy. "I don't just see nicely cleaned up ones, thank you," Nash replied.
This exchange was the liveliest point of a Q&A debate that covered a bunch of the issues of the day – asylum seekers and Nauru, an increase in the GST, the role of trade unions, penalty rates – with a panel distinguished mostly by its gender make-up and its location.
In keeping with its promise after last year's inquiry into its operations, women on the panel outnumbered the men – industrial relations commentator Grace Collier also on hand, with 3AW's Neil Mitchell and ACTU secretary Dave Oliver rounding out the line-up. And another promise was kept: the show came out of Melbourne, an early honouring of its 2016 pledge to get out of Sydney as often as it could.
After a difficult 2015, the signs are there that Q&A is determined to make a fresh start – so fresh that Tony Jones is even making a discreet case for a relaxation of sartorial standards. For the second week running, our host fronted the nation without a tie.