Wake Up presses the PM on asylum seekers

Sometimes in television, location is everything.

For the second time in a week the Prime Minister has made an appearance on TEN’s Wake Up,.

After penning an open letter about Australia’s violent binge drinking culture in the press, Tony Abbott discussed the issue with the Wake Up hosts yesterday.

But it was questions on his Asylum Seekers policy from Natarsha Belling and James Mathison, particularly his media silence, that gained the most attention.

“In the end we are in a fierce contest with these people smugglers and if we were at war we wouldn’t be giving out information that is of use to the enemy just because we might have an idle curiosity about it ourselves,” Prime Minister Abbott said.

“In these situations I am not going to release information which will be exploited by people smugglers to the peril of their customers and to the tremendous disadvantage of our country.”

James Mathison asked about the lack of transparency and accountability while Natarsha Belling asked if he was comfortable with the standard of detention centres.

Yet while Abbott defended his policy there was something poetic about one answer given the picture postcard backdrop behind him.

“I can absolutely understand why people living in a pretty tough place, want to come to a terrific country like Australia,” he said.

“I can accept, indeed I can cherish, the yearning for a better life that beats in the hearts of every human being.”

It was a television moment that could never have been replicated on Sunrise, Today or ABC News Breakfast.

Abbott’s second appearance on Wake Up was a coup for the show which has been trailing its competition. But the location at Queenscliff Surf Club, where the PM enjoys a morning surf, has worked in its favour. Even Nine News had to doorstop the PM with the surf club behind him.

Yesterday James Mathison told TV Tonight after Abbott’s surprise appearance a week ago, producers put in an open invitation with his office for a chat.

“About 20 to 7 this morning we got a call that he could come in, I think on the back of the article. So we were very lucky,” he said.

After a quick surf Abbott changed out of his wetsuit for the studio chat.

“He’d agreed to talk about alcohol-fuelled violence so we talked about that, but we had had Paul Barratt on a couple of days before, who was the former head of defence under the Howard Government. He was talking about the Abbott Government’s approach to Asylum Seekers and specifically the non-reporting,” says Mathison.

“We knew what he wanted to talk about, but it’s our show and he doesn’t entirely get to set the agenda.

“It was something that had been topical for us.”

Mathison said while he didn’t agree with the government’s position on Gay Marriage and Asylum Seekers it didn’t stop them from having a robust and respectful conversation.

“We wanted it to reflect the programme as well which was topical issues, big questions but at the same time there’s a kindness and a light-heartedness to it. That’s been the whole theme for the show and I think that interview reflected that.”


  1. Watched wake up this morning how good was it to have nula in the studio reading the news live . Much much better . Looks better works better for the show. Well done lets hope this is a permanent role with nula in the studio.. And nula looks heaps better with a nice backdrop behind her like the beach rather than that drab backdrop called melbourne and now time to add a weather girl to the show she can be in the news room.

  2. Loved Nula in the Studio today, much better, she has great chemistry with Tarsh and James, she needs to stay there and get more on air chat time as well.

    Melanie in the visitor centre worked well as well, that can be Wake Up’s point of difference, travelling around the country with the local news, but have the national stuff broadcast from the studio.

  3. Well done to wake up, the hosts did a very good job with the interview with the PM. I am enjoying watching wake up. This show is getting bettter the hosts have a good chemistry and they are both getting more relaxed in front of the camera. Still not a fan of the news from melbourne needs to be read in the studio and needs a sports presenter and weather girl.

  4. Breakfast TV never seems to fire for Ten. The more positive side of it though is that Studio 10 is on the rise.
    I do hope that Wake Up does become a success, but as time goes on and the ratings remain low that is becoming less likely.

  5. @gabbo: He probably felt safe at Wake Up because of the puff piece they did last time he was on. But now that they’ve gone and asked questions of actual substance, it’ll be interesting to see if he’ll be back (and if he is, if the next interview will be soft).

  6. Here’s a novel idea: any country that participates in destroying another country, either by war or political interference, should open it’s borders for its innocent fleeing civilians.

  7. Tony Abbott only does interviews where he feels safe and where he won’t be asked any real questions. Interesting that he turned up at “Wake Up” then. TEN may believe that they scored a coup here but if TA continues to drop in for a chat, they will lose (valuable) viewers because most people know when they are being used. At least shareholders Packer, Murdoch & Rinehart will be watching.
    PS if James M becomes the Charlie P of breakfast, then TEN might just make this show work.
    PPS If TA turns up again, why not have Bongiorno or Riminton on standby to ask a question or two – that could be really entertaining!

  8. Great interview. Even featured on Nine, Seven and ABC. How hard is it to put a CH10 logo on the video to get a bit of promotion for Wake Up? And for Ten’s own bulletins, put a ‘and you can catch Wake Up from 6.30am weekdays here on Channel 10’ at the end of the video…

  9. cynical old codger

    Sadly another reason to not watch Wake Up, who’s next out the Abbott and Co.mob to join the Network Ten love-in?
    Besides if I wanted to listen to utter double standards delivered without his( Mr Abbott) very obvious vocal and body language indicators, I can watch my DVD’s of The Bolt Report, the now ultra biased Meet The Press, Steve Price and all the other political Hacks and Has-beens, and if really want my day spoilt there’s always Network Ten’s ultimate insult inflicted on viewers “Paul Henry”

  10. “sue”, “cue”? Perhaps the word is “queue”?
    In an era of satellite phones, email, twitter, Facebook, etc., trying to keep secret the movement of boats is a futile idea.

  11. Channel Ten has had plenty of misses in the last twelve months or so, but a big hit is giving James Mathison a spotlight. I’ve always thought of him as a very bright spark. He’s got a fierce intelligence and a warm-hearted wit that should take him a long way.

  12. Well done to James and Tarsh.
    I’ve been waiting to hear some of those questions be put to the PM regarding asylum seekers. Although we just got the usual drivel in reply.

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