"Just think.. if this were a soccer match we could have had 30 minutes extra time followed by penalty kicks. #ausvotes #debate #nilnil"
- me on Twitter, 7.36pm 25.7.10
The Leaders Debate between Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott took place on Sunday night. There's nothing more that I can say about the content. Really. The transcript is here.
Terrible. Old media at its worst. Innovative when Jack Kennedy met Dick Nixon fifty years ago. Here, a bad waste of an hour with two leaders who wanted to remain small policy targets, and with a panel too preoccupied with the distraction of the comparatively minor asylum seeker issue. The use of the worm (or in Channel Seven's case, three worms) served only to trivialise the event further.
For most Australian viewers, it was just a bad reality show filling time before the grand final of Masterchef began on Channel Ten. Or even, if you preferred, Dancing With The Stars on Seven. As it happened, Masterchef on Sunday was the highest rating Australian TV show in years, scoring well ahead of the combined viewership of the ABC, Seven and Nine coverages of the Debate yawnfest. Mumbrella has the night's viewing figures.
Why does the debate have to be on a Sunday night? (For Bob Hawke vs Andrew Peacock in 1984, it was on a Saturday.) Why does it require such starchy rules? And why, really, does it need to be restricted to Leader vs Leader?
Much more instructive was Monday night's edition of Q&A on ABC1 (Channel 2 in the old currency), chiefly focussing on discussion of climate change (still in my opinion the numero uno policy issue facing this nation) including key players such as Penny Wong, Malcolm Turnbull and Christine Milne. The Town Hall-style format of Q&A is great at its best, enhanced by input from questioners via video and the web. Though I would be only too happy if they could lose that Young Liberals cheer squad each week.
Could we, I wonder, have Abbott and Gillard do a Q&A together before the election? Even if the ABC is made to share it with the other networks?