25 July 2010

The Leaders' Debate -- Gillard Just...

The "Great Debate", or the not so great debate depending on your interest in Australian politics, was won just by Julia Gillard. Tony Abbott put up a much better showing than many thought possible. Nevertheless, the most illuminating moments associated with this debate was that there were no illuminating moments. The reality is that neither Gillard or Abbott offered up anything substantial from what we already know about them.

The debate was the same, but the worms were different. Channel 9 was running a worm that suggests Gillard comprehensively trounced Abbott by some 63% to 37%. The Channel 7 worm had it much closer at 53% to 47%. Personally, I think the Channel 7 worm had it pretty much right. Interestingly, both worms were true to expected form and fell along gender lines. Most women going for the female Prime Minister and most men going for the male leader of the Opposition.

Neither leader was able to deliver a significant blow. In fact, both came across as overly cautious and unwilling to make any big statements about themselves, their beliefs, or what real changes the Australian people will enjoy under either a Labor or Liberal (Coalition) government. Maybe the lack of a third party option in the debate, like the Greens, might inspire people to seek out that option prior to the election. The Greens under Bob Brown have seemingly become an increasingly attractive option for those disillusioned with the main parties.

Yet, one of the most significant things for Labor to consider is the response to Gillard's failure to be specific on the ouster of the former PM, Kevin Rudd. The worms tracked instantaneously lower suggesting that people have an issue with the way that the leadership was spilled. Maybe the pencil pushers over at Labor Headquarters will need to put some spin on this and get it out into the electorate. The leadership spill might be better confronted head on and called as it was. Sometimes the truth will set you free.

The thing that stuck me about the debate, and to which I alluded earlier, is that there is not a whole lot of difference in the policies of either party or leader. This is probably more of a problem for the Liberal Coalition than it is for the incumbent Labor Government. The reason is a simple one, why change governments if there is not going to be any real change in either policy or direction? If it is going to be the same old, same old then perhaps it is better the devil you know than the devil you don't.

It is too bad that this seems to have been a one-off debate. Another debate or two might have been worth a look-see.

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