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Same old lines and still short on the facts

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Abbott rules out raising the GST

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott denies any potential changes to the GST during Sunday night's leaders debate.

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In 2010, the consensus was that Rudd scored a comfortable win by giving a smooth, persuasive and prime ministerial performance. In contrast, Abbott was seen as overly aggressive and under-gunned on policy detail. This time the dynamics were very different.

The pressure was on Rudd to score an emphatic win to energise his campaign after an unremarkable first week. Behind in the polls and keen for a debate a week, he needed to clearly outperform his opponent.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition leader Tony Abbott during the leaders debate in Canberra on Sunday.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition leader Tony Abbott during the leaders debate in Canberra on Sunday. Photo: Andrew Meares

He didn't. A contest that was light on new ideas and real answers ended in either a draw or a narrow win to Abbott, not least because Rudd appeared to be referring to notes on more than two occasions.

The Prime Minister articulated his case for a ''new way'' to match new challenges well enough, but invited the Abbott rejoinder: that the only way to get a new way is to elect a new government.

For the most part, Abbott kept his aggression in check, though he is unlikely to have impressed undecided voters by mocking his opponent with unrestrained laughter while Rudd was speaking.

Both leaders appeared under-prepared for questions of detail on issues outside those that have dominated political debate for the past three years - climate change, the boats and the economy.

Rudd seemed oblivious to the state of play on the case for a second international airport in Sydney, while Abbott's only idea for addressing the growing challenges in aged care was about reducing red tape.

Abbott remains vulnerable on the question of where the money will come from to pay for his promises, while getting rid of a swag of taxes and bringing the budget back into surplus. All will be revealed in due course is the stock answer.

His counter-attack on Rudd's scare campaign on the prospect of the GST being broadened and increased was undermined because he didn't answer Rudd's repeated question - why is the GST being included in the Coalition's proposed tax review.

On climate change and boats, there was little new and little to separate the protagonists. Rudd was more forceful on the impact of climate change and alluded artfully to the scepticism on the part of some on the other side. But there was no knockout blow.

Rudd's one new commitment - and the only one of the debate from either leader - was to bring forward legislation on same-sex marriage in the first 100 days if re-elected.

73 comments

  • When I watched this on TV last night, I looked at the worm (bottom of the screen graphic) and it did not reflect what you have stated in your article Michael. In fact, there was a consistent drop of approval (or whatever was being measured) for Abbott. For most of Abbott's time, the worm remained in the bottom half, so I'm not sure how that translates to a minor 'win' for Abbott for this debate (as you suggest). Personally, these two should have been asked more 'meatier' questions instead of being able to bluster on (waffle) like old broken records.

    Commenter
    Sad sack
    Date and time
    August 12, 2013, 6:47AM
    • The meatier question, that a lot of people are interested in at the moment is, who's going to pay?

      How much more tax are we going to be paying under the Coalition ? If you take the average wage earner, as an example, will it be hundreds or thousands of dollars every year?

      The money to balance the budget has to come from the everyday taxpayer. How many people do you know that would be willing to cut back on their working hours and loose income and maybe eventually their jobs to balance the budget?

      Commenter
      Rod
      Location
      the Coast
      Date and time
      August 12, 2013, 8:24AM
    • You were watching channel 9. Abbott clearly win the debate.

      Commenter
      Fiona
      Date and time
      August 12, 2013, 8:29AM
    • Sad sack
      I watched a wormless version of the debate so I could concentrate on what each person was saying. Personally found Rudd's attempt at Presidential Style supercilious while Abbott was sincere. Especially as Rudd has his notes - appearing "rehearsed" whereas noteless Abbott - genuine.
      All of this is a personal reaction, guess that's what we each are entitled to have in the privacy of our own lounge rooms.
      Many many voters do not feed the worm.

      Commenter
      yys
      Date and time
      August 12, 2013, 8:50AM
    • It depends what station you watched.

      I was watching the coverage on 7Two - and their "worm" had Abbott generally on 60-70% "like" for most answers and Rudd 30-40% "like" on his. So, based on that worm, Abbott romped it home. At the end of the debate Mel Doyle claimed the worm was an online App and based on about 10,000 people.

      Not sure about any other "worms" though. I did read Twitter's poll was based on 500 votes.

      Commenter
      Smith
      Date and time
      August 12, 2013, 8:52AM
    • In short, the ALP were hot air, no asylum fix, more borrowing to hide a crashing economy, known by many overseas experts as the false economy, and gave priority to gay marriage over more urgent issues in desperate hope it wins votes, and Abbott refusing to cost nor even say his policies, and if cant say at this stage then he has none and is rushing them. We saw all rushed policies fail on all 3 contenders and waste our money. They offered nothing. Ok, lets see what Clive Palmer's United party is offering as PM after Sept 7. Increased age pension $150 pfn to stop poverty, veterans get a rise and backdated, scrapping of FBT, more money for health, hospitals and education than others offer but direct to entities to avoid States ripping it off, A real fix to asylum issue, fail-proof. A tax overhaul planned to reduce rate from the 40's to about 10 cents in the dollar to induce spending to boost business and also reaps extra GST with the extra purchasing. A plan to solve china mining downturn, and who better qualified to do that than Clive. No wonder they refuse to debate him

      Commenter
      brian
      Location
      CHISHOLM
      Date and time
      August 12, 2013, 9:01AM
    • Rod @ 8.24

      The other question one could ask is:
      "How much has Labor cost the Australian Taxpayer since 2007? "

      There must be someone out there in ElectoralLand who could crunch the figures on that.

      Commenter
      yys
      Location
      Looking for a Larger than usual Abacus
      Date and time
      August 12, 2013, 9:49AM
    • They both had broad "solutions". Abbott thinks everything will be fixed by cutting company taces and dropping the school kids bonus. Bizarre.

      And Rudd thinks everything will be fixed by the NBN. pff, yeah, like old people will be able to be monitored online.

      Er... just click on thge little globe signal, no... it's in the bottom left hand corner ... alright, just turn the computor off and I'll wait... hello ... are you still there...

      sarajane will still be voting Green.

      I can't help but think the future is in renewable energy, I think it matters to people.

      Commenter
      sarajane
      Location
      melbourne
      Date and time
      August 12, 2013, 9:50AM
    • Hey Sad Sack and Michael,I don't think you were watching the same debate as everyone else,or did you have those rose coloured glasses on ?

      Commenter
      paul
      Location
      never never land
      Date and time
      August 12, 2013, 11:05AM
    • Control-freak PM Rudd ruled with just his "Gang of 4" because he distrusted his cabinet. Control-freak debater Rudd used notes because distrusted himself. If he could control the worms, he would, too.

      Commenter
      Gnu Tia
      Date and time
      August 12, 2013, 11:22AM

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