Debate debate debate

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Last updated on July 16th, 2017 at 09:25 am

7.25: Five minutes before our nation erupts in debate madness. Sky News talkers previewing. In background, Rudd and Howard seen scoping out the stage – Sky keeps their greeting handshake in longshot.

7.27: Andrew Robb says he “wants to see the leaders perform.” Just as well he’s at the debate, then.

7.30: It begins.

7.32: Rudd speaks first. “This election is about the future …” There’s a news flash. Three mentions of “working families”; two mentions of “new leadership”.

7.35: Howard agrees: “This election is about the future.”

7.36: Howard: “We’ve built a new society … we’ve built a strong economy.” We built this city on roooock and roll!

7.38: Good line from Howard on Rudd’s pessimism: “He has a Donald Horne/Lucky Country view of Australia.”

7.40: Rudd: “Where’s the investment in climate change?” Australia produces just 1.4% of so-called greenhouse gases. Spend the whole GDP on climate change and it won’t make a difference. Another mention of “new leadership”, and the first tonight of “When I travel across Australia …”

7.44: Howard getting into Rudd’s tax policy and his claims to be an economic conservative.

7.46: Howard on the government’s economic conservatism: “We haven’t embraced it like some kind of election-eve carrot.” Embrace the carrot!

7.48: Rudd – man of the future – now discussing Howard’s time as treasurer. In the Fraser years.

7.49: Rudd says he has “a former rock star” in his shadow cabinet. Gillard? Swan?

7.53: Howard now talking about “working families”. As opposed to? In response, Rudd’s “working family” count leaps to seven.

7.55: “Working kids.” Rudd identifies a working family subset.

7.59 – 8.03: Long question from Paul Kelly. Something to do with tax.

8.05: Rudd again re-examines treasury history of the 1980s. Both combatants looking a little perspirey, possibly due to the third thrilling question from Paul Kelly.

8.08: Both speakers getting heated over an OECD report. Crucial election issue, that.

8.10: “When I look back at economic reform in this country, from 1983 …” The future, Kevin! It’s about the future!

8.17: Rudd: “It’s good to get a word in.”

8.20: The SMH’s Peter Hartcher asks if it would be acceptable for carbon emissions to increase. Only if you want to keep people employed, Pete.

8.23: Rudd stumbling over Kyoto.

8.24: It’s the “science”! Unless we follow it, says Rudd, “we place the planet in grave danger.” This would presumably be bad for working families.

8.25: Hartcher’s ears are quite large. Must be a distraction for Kevin.

8.28: Howard getting religious about carbon emissions. Sheesh.

8.29: Rudd argues China’s case on emissions. Move there!

8.30: “We’re actually interested in preserving the planet,” says Kev. He also wants to reduce petrol prices. Hmmm.

8.31: Rudd commits half-a-billion dollars to producing “the first Australian hybrid.” The Ruddius!

8.34: ABC’s Chris Uhlmann thinks he has a killer question for Howard: “Has the risk of terrorism increased or decreased since you sent troops to Iraq?” He asks it twice.

8.38: Uhlmann to Rudd: “What do you actually believe in?” Answer: working families!

8.44: Rudd also believes in “intergenerational justice”.

8.45: Good explanation from Howard on the whole “sorry” issue.

8.47: “Sorry” is “about respect”, according to Rudd, in Sunday school teacher mode.

8.49: Rudd says George W. Bush “wasn’t inclined to change his mind” on carbon emissions. Good.

8.53: Howard vows to “stay the distance” with allies in Iraq and Afghanistan.

8.56: Howard asks if Rudd can guarantee reduced petrol/grocery prices; Rudd’s reply five times mentions “working families”.

8.58: Rudd forgets the debate rules; Speer sets him straight. New phrase: “Out of touchness”. Final mention of working families. First mention all night of “negative fear campaigns”.

9.00: Howard’s closer records eighth or ninth mention of his “team”. Ends with nod to culture wars: “Why have we as a nation become so ashamed of the Australian story?” Presume he’s speaking about broad history, not the ABC program.

9.08: Entire Sky News panel awards debate to Rudd. A good sign; according to media types, Howard has lost all of his election debates, while always winning elections.

9.14: Nine’s worm audience scores a win to Rudd, 65% to 29%. The SMH’s Annabel Crabb points out that the worm scored a win to Latham in 2004 (67% to 33%) and Beazley in 2001 (also 67% – 33%). It’s useless, but commentators will be obsessing about it tomorrow.

UPDATE. Andrew Bolt’s minute-by-minute take, watching Nine rather than Sky. On Nine’s stupid audience-reactive worm:

8.29pm: Rudd opens his mouth to start speaking. Before a syllable comes out – I do not exaggerate – the worm leaps up in approval.

UPDATE II. Worm, worm, worm, worm, worm, worm. Why are people so interested in the opinions of ninety unknown people in a Channel Nine studio? It’s not as though they’re Norwegian.

Posted by Tim B. on 10/21/2007 at 05:21 AM