Tony Jones, host of Australia’s iconic weekly debate program Q&A, has today announced his intention to retire from the role.
By the end of the year, a particularly colourful, controversial and news-inducing era will draw to a close.
According to The Australian, the 63-year-old is “reluctantly” stepping down in order to travel to China with fellow ABC presenter and wife of over 25 years, Sarah Ferguson, who is set to become ABC’s new China bureau chief.
“I love doing Q&A,” Jones said. “But going to China is an opportunity that is too good to miss.”
In a statement about the move, Ferguson said: “The China story is irresistible for a journalist. It has become the story of our time — and one with immense implications for Australia. Understanding China and the Chinese perspective is vital.
“This is a unique opportunity to join the Beijing bureau and continue the first rate analysis and coverage my colleagues have produced.”
Q&A has turned out its fair share of eyebrow-raising episodes over the years with Jones at the head.
We remember when 15-year-old high school student Dylan Storer addressed the “counter-intuitive” placement of Tony Abbott as special envoy on Indigenous affairs – prompting Jones to double-check how old the intelligent teen was.
— ABC Q&A (@QandA) September 10, 2018
There was also that time an upset audience member threw a shoe at John Howard before being escorted from the premises.
And let’s not forget the bizarre episode discussing “child-like sex toys”, which was necessarily and unsurprisingly torn down by viewers.
— Sydney News (@SydneyNews) November 6, 2018
However, it seems Jones isn’t quite ready to say farewell forever. He is reportedly negotiating a few future appearances on Q&A for 2020 onwards. Jones has worked on several ABC programs during his 30-year career as a journalist, including Four Corners, Lateline and Foreign Correspondent.
The question now on everyone’s lips is who will replace Jones as permanent Q&A host?
And will Malcolm Turnbull’s leather jacket ever make another guest appearance?