Prime Minister Kevin Rudd listens to his LNP opponent Bill Glasson. Photo: Amy Remeikis
Who loves the Griffith electorate more?
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd rejected claims from opponent Bill Glasson that he was the "absent candidate" for Griffith, during an early morning debate at Morningside in Brisbane’s south.
Mr Rudd, speaking to a full room of South East Brisbane Chamber of Commerce members and guests, said Griffith was "home" and he "loved it".
His wife, Therese Rein, sitting in the front row, nodded.
It was a touch of homeliness in a debate marked, as expected at a chamber of commerce event, with business talk.
"I will continue to serve you as local member if you choose to re-elect me," Mr Rudd said.
"But the big plan is to roll out the National Broadband Network across every single household, every single small business here and the wider community."
Mr Rudd had agreed to the debate with Dr Glasson before he became prime minister. Greens candidate Geoff Ebbs and Karin Hunter, the Palmer United candidate, rounded out the group.
Continuing his theme of positivity, Mr Rudd said he "welcomed" the opportunity to debate.
"It is good for our local democracy. When we stand for public office, we should come. So I welcome Bill’s contribution, I welcome Geoff’s and Karin’s as well, because it is you the people, who decide."
Dr Glasson’s speech focussed on a "collapse in business confidence".
"As I speak to the business owners in Griffith, it is obvious that the current environment of high taxes and high regulation is having a significant impact on the business sector," he said.
"For most, the revenue is flat. For those with any revenue growth, gains have been offset by increasing costs. Particularly labour, electricity and compliance."
Mr Ebbs, a member and gold sponsor of the south west Chamber of Commerce, took aim at both Mr Rudd and Dr Glasson’s federal leader Tony Abbott, saying in contrast, the Greens offered "predictability".
"Dr Glasson, your leader has set new lows in sloganeering, name calling and driving down business confidence. With all due respect Prime Minister, your efforts to regain the leadership of the ALP and your sudden policy U-turns redefine the term unpredictability," he said.
Ms Hunter used her opening remarks to push a debate between her party leader, Clive Palmer, Mr Rudd and federal opposition leader Tony Abbott, before launching into the Palmer United themes of an untrustworthy government, an apathetic opposition and a fatigued public.
Mr Ebbs, a comfortable public speaker, won the crowd over with an easy manner and laughs, while Ms Hunter relied on notes and prepared quips - "Mr Rudd you don’t deal in facts, only furphies" - she sat on her lap.
But in the end, the debate came down to Mr Rudd and Dr Glasson and wider political issues.
The Coalition candidate, well prepared, hit Mr Rudd on FTE and education. Mr Rudd, at times fighting to hold his tongue while Dr Glasson spoke, hit back with what he called "the facts".
Both defended their respective parties’ policies on asylum seekers and their "fear of the boats".
But in a room of mostly middle class, middle aged men and women, it was the business talk which held their attention.
And the food.
"Not sure about the entertainment," one man said to colleagues as he left.
"But breakfast was good."