Former speaker Anna Burke has praised Christopher Pyne's composure on the ABC's Q&A, saying the Education Minister handled a protest from university students "brilliantly", while the show's crew were rattled by the episode.
The ABC had to temporarily abandon its live broadcast on Monday night, after the student group began to protest about proposed higher education cuts.
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Q&A disrupted by protesting students
ABC's Q&A host Tony Jones and Education Minister Christopher Pyne were left helpless as a number of students raucously disrupted Monday evening's show protesting about higher education cuts.
The students unfurled a banner about an upcoming protest over the set where the panel - which also included Ms Burke - was sitting and began to chant. When host Tony Jones could not control the chanting, the ABC temporarily cut to an old episode of the program, while the students were evicted from the ABC1 studios.
Ms Burke explained on Tuesday morning that because the protesters were behind the panel, it was difficult for Jones to address the group, "so I'm going to defend him a bit".
She added that the crew on the floor were "quite rattled".
While the Labor MP acknowledged that the group had their slogan - which "included no cuts, no fees, no corporate universities" - "down pat" they unfurled their banner the wrong way around.
"It was all a bit of a schemozzle, and I think it actually destroyed their message," she told ABC Radio in Melbourne.
Ms Burke said that other students in the audience also told the protesters to "knock it off".
She that while protest was a "legitimate thing", it did not assist public debate to be rude, obnoxious and "shutting down a forum".
Ms Burke - who had to control Mr Pyne on many occasions when she sat in the speaker's chair - said that the Education Minister handled the situation "brilliantly".
"He was probably less rattled than anybody else," she said.
As the protest continued, Mr Pyne joked to Jones, "does this mean you won't have me again?".
In the lead up to the protest, the students launched a series of questions aimed at Mr Pyne, focussing on proposed changes to higher education, which would entail increased competition from private colleges and higher fees.
The protest provoked an instant reaction on social media, sparking a debate about democracy and how Jones handled the protest.
Australian Liberal Students' Federation spokesperson Matthew Lesh condemned the disruption to the debate that had been taking place on the show.
"This demonstration displays the willingness of the extreme left to use disruptive and ferocious methods," Mr Lesh said.
“Tonight’s protests are an embarrassment to students, and do not in any sense represent the regular student body."
A number of Twitter users praised the students' efforts in drawing attention to the higher education cuts and criticised their forced removal from the studio. But others disagreed, saying the unruly protest was damaging their cause.
"The riot on #qanda is indicative of how deeply Australians feel about the destruction of education the Abbott Govt is inflicting on us," education commentator Maralyn Parker tweeted.
Protester Brigitte Garozzo tweeted that the outburst was driven by anger at Mr Pyne's proposed deregulation plans.
"Stop deregulating our universities and we wouldn't have to protest like this. YOU DONT LISTEN," she wrote.
She said the protest was organised by the Education Action Group from the University of Sydney, not the Socialist Alternative.
This is not the first time Q&A was the site of a protest.
In 2010, an audience member threw his shoes at former Prime Minister John Howard, when he ws unhappy at answers over Australia's involvement in the Iraq War.