Rudd vs. Abbott. What we know after the first debate

The 2013 Australian federal election will be held on 7 September 2013. The campaign is in full swing with Kevin Rudd – Tony Abbott first TV debate. Read few comments.

Lindy Edwards, Senior Lecturer, International Political Studies Program, School of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of New South Wales

Voters who tuned into this evening’s Australian Election debate risked being confronted by quite how dire the choice they face is. There is a strong desire to dump the sullied Labor government, but the debate threw the shallowness of the Opposition leader into clear relief.

The Labor leader, Kevin Rudd, has developed a reputation as two faced, manipulative and power hungry. However, he is also an intellectual and a deep thinker who has grappled seriously with the challenges facing the nation in a rapidly transforming region.

The Coalition Leader, Tony Abbott, has spent the last several years trying to soften his image as a knucklehead scrapper of the religious right. He has used cut through rhetoric to undermine the Labor government to devastating effect. However, the long format of the debate exposed quite how little substance lies behind the rhetoric.

The electoral impact of the debate will be marginal. Very few people will have watched it as the electorate has largely disengaged with what has been a grubby and disillusioning period of Australian politics.

Nonetheless, if there is any impact, it is most likely to be to woo back some disillusioned Labor supporters to Rudd’s cause. In the Australian colloquial, “he might be a bastard, but at least he is a clever bastard”.

Ian Cook, Senior Lecturer, Politics and International Studies, Murdoch University

The debate between Labor Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, and Liberal Opposition Leader, Tony Abbott, was mostly directed toward economic issues and, in particular, who can manage the economy better. Cost of living pressures have been increasing in Australia, and with a predicted slow-down in the Chinese economy, Australians are concerned about the future of their economy. Both leaders moved to assure them that they could deal with these problems.

Neither leader did enough to win the debate, though Kevin Rudd was generally thought to have done better and got a more favourable response on social media, especially Twitter.

Tone Abbott did enough to make him appear electable, which is all he has to do. Many voters don’t trust him, and he tried to convince them of his sincerity by looking down the camera to address them.

Rudd, who was accused of cheating because he breached the rule forbidding the use of notes during the debate, once again showed that he knows how to handle the media. His experience as a regular commentator on morning TV showed through.

One interesting aspect of the debate was that same-sex marriage featured prominently, with Rudd promising to introduce legislation and Abbott being somewhat uncomfortable with the issue. He acknowledged the presence of his gay sister in the room, but he knows he won’t get support within the party for changing the laws and isn’t that interested in doing so himself. He sought to shift attention back to the economy-

The debate won’t have shifted the allegiances of many voters and Tony Abbott remains on track to win this election.

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One Response

  1. Yep, we really have very little choice in this election.

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