Australia's dull debate

  • 12 August 2013
  • From the section Asia
  • comments
Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd talks with conservative opposition leader Tony Abbott before the debate on 11 August 2013
Did fear of a slip-up constrain both Mr Rudd (L) and Mr Abbott (R)

So what did you think of that? Worth tuning in for? The prevailing view in the Australian media is that last night's television election debate between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott was dull.

The reviews range from "The political equivalent of a hospital meal" to "A night of waffle". There were few talking points with a rigid debate format that produced little actual interaction between the two candidates. Both men looked a little stiff and nervous, perhaps more concerned with not making a slip-up rather than trying to shine.

A row has broken out over the point at which Kevin Rudd was using notes, which is against the rules. The fact that Tony Abbott has not made much of a fuss about it suggests he may have been too.

But as Lyndal Curtis, an ABC News political correspondent who was on the panel of journalists asking questions put it, if that's the biggest talking point out of an hour-long debate, it doesn't say much about the rest of the discussion. Neither candidate dealt a knock-out blow, but by not losing Tony Abbott was probably the winner.

The opposition leader is ahead in the polls. This is his race to lose. The prime minister is the one who needs to make up ground. There's little evidence he did that last night.

Gluttons for punishment and insomniacs can watch the whole thing all over again here.