There's not much to be said about Sunday's Great Debate. Everything you need to know is right here:
I really wanted this entry to be an in depth analysis of the cut and thrust of the debate, the policies the leaders presented and the vision for the country that each had on display, but this has proved impossible. No such vision was on display.
For each candidate, the debate was more about what they were trying not to do; Julia trying not to look too much like Rudd, Tony trying not to look too much like an angry nut. On this score, you'd say that Tony fared better. Julia, with her empty sloganeering and vague promises, was pretty Rudd like. Tony was presentable and didn't say or do anything that would've frightened anyone too much.
In terms of what they talked about well, anyone with even a passing interest in national politics could've guessed beforehand. As I heard the PM's campaign spokesman say before the debate occurred; 'Julia Gillard stands for better schools, better health and a strong economy' (presumably her opponent is against these things). Her part of the debate was her saying this over and over and then rephrasing it to say it again and trying to ignore anything else.
Q: Can you tell us how you and Kevin Rudd are substantially different?
A: Well I won't comment on that. What I will comment on is my commitment to a improving education and health and building the economy.
Abbott stuck to the relentlessly negative tone of his campaign and ragged on everything the Government has done over the last three years (except the revised IR laws which he's very supportive of... or something). There was also a fair bit about turning boats back and stopping boats and sending boats somewhere else. Moving away from this safe territory proved a bit trickier:
Q: Can you outline what the top priorities of an Abbott Government would be in the areas of helath and education?
A: .... (pause)... (pause)... Stopping the boats!
Sometimes I htink it's a shame that these live, televised debates aren't taken a bit more seriously in Australia, like they are in the States. In US politics, the three debates are seen as absolutely key to winning office and shape the remainder of the campaign once they're done. Here, while it was well watched, it caused nary a blip on the national consciousness. Both candidates, having agreed to just one debate in the non prime time slot of 6.30pm Sunday, seemed eager to get it over and done with and forget about it.
Another example of moving forward, perhaps.