Judge: Tommy Tonner
Winner: Julia Gillard
Scores: Gillard 80 | Abbott 74
The introductory speeches from Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott set the tone for the debate. Neither was absolutely convincing nor inspiring. Ms Gillard was quite engaging and clear, on subjects such as plans for debt reduction, renewables and broadband. Mr Abbot was hyper-critical of the Government (entirely fair in a debating concept) without really bringing forward policies of his own. Neither party made a convincing start, nor really set out the terms on which they wanted the debate to be conducted upon.
It was good to see the moderator have a quick role on the thematic first question, Ms Gillard handled the challenges put to her on mining and immigration well whilst Mr Abbott again chose to counter punch rather than get on the front foot with coalition policies. He did have some good points to make on parental leave but his stilted manner meant they didn’t really hit home.
Ms Gillard played a straight bat to the Rudd issue, to be expected, but handled the two immigration issues firmly and well. Mr Abbott, strangely found it more difficult to defend the record of the last Coalition government than Ms Gillard found it to defend Rudd’s record. Good use of stats, and reasoned analysis thereof – it beats saying “fair dinkum” a lot.
In terms of responding to panel questioning, and indeed points made by the opponent, Ms Gillard won the day, the question on immigration centres was not answered by Mr Abbott, Ms Gillard was completely on top of the brief, despite quite tough questioning on emissions Ms Gillard did OK, but Mr Abbott landed a good a good couple of punches on democracy and carbon tax.
On the economy Mr Abbott did well in pointing out government spending largesse “pink bats” but did nothing to suggest that he disagreed with the fundamental strategy being employed. Also, on what should have been very strong ground for an opposition he failed to land a decent punch on a major subject such as unemployment or interest rates.
In terms of closing statements Ms Gillard did well in leading on public services, an area in which Mr Abbott had scored well previously. Stylistically the PM was assured and engaging while the Opposition Leader continued his negative attack. This was a mistake, this was his last chance to say what he would do as PM however any semblance of detailed policy was crammed into the last ten seconds, the gender comment was low too.
So much as it pains a Scotsman to compliment the Welsh on anything, they will be singing Hymns and Arias in the valleys tonight celebrating a reasonably comfortable Gillard victory (probably in her original accent too).