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Jul 26, 2010

Who won the debate?

Daily Media Wrap: Fair dinkum, last night was the only election debate of the campaign and it was filled with moving forwards, cheesy Aussie lingo and worms aplenty.


Last night was the only election debate of the campaign and it was filled with fair dinkums, which is the new moving forward, apparently. In case you missed it, you can read the entire transcript here, but let’s face it, it wasn’t the most thrilling testament to democracy.

Pre-debate, Michelle Grattan wrote in The Age about how important the leaders’ debate was for Abbott:

People overwhelmingly think Labor will win the election. Abbott remains the underdog. A win tonight would give him fresh momentum. A loss would be a slip on the side of that Everest he’s trying to climb.

But who won the debate? The worm slithered up and down the screen and the commentariat are also all over the place this morning.

Unnamed “staff writers” at The Oz declared “Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott have faced off in a polite leaders debate, with neither leader delivering a knockout blow.”

It was a lacklustre night for Christine Jackman, “…it was clear then that this debate would deliver nothing more than another serve of workshopped rhetoric with all the appeal of cold porridge”, she writes in The Oz.

Michelle Grattan at The Age seemed similarly underwhelmed:

Julia Gillard and Tony Abbott didn’t give political value for money in last night’s debate. They were too frightened of putting a foot wrong. Rehearsed to the hilt, they provided nothing new. Humour was lacking; there was little engagement between the two, no spontaneous moments. Neither was seriously caught out; where they didn’t have answers they fudged. Nor was there any clear winner.

“With no killer blows and debate centred on their political skeletons, neither Ms Gillard nor Tony Abbott will be able to use it as a springboard into week two of the campaign,” says Stefanie Balogh in The Courier-Mail.

Yes, it was a crap debate, but Gillard won it, says Katharine Murphy in The Age. “Julia Gillard moves into the second week of the election contest claiming victory in a lacklustre televised debate that stayed religiously on the campaign script,” writes Murphy.

Malcolm Farr agreed over at The Daily Telegraph: “Julia Gillard won last night’s debate narrowly over Tony Abbott, but neither planted a bone breaker on their opponent.”

Julia mightn’t have lost it, but she didn’t win it either, says Dennis Shanahan in The Oz. “…the expectations piled on Gillard’s shoulders were left unfulfilled and a solid, mistake-free performance will not be enough to have the new Prime Minister declared a ‘winner’.”

At least the worm provided welcome distraction. “… for the first time, voters were treated to not just a head-to-head battle between a male and female political leader, but also a gender-bending worm. And basically, the lady worm likes girls,” writes Samantha Maiden in The Oz.

The worm declared Gillard the winner. “Channel Nine’s worm, the live tracking device operated by a sample of swing voters, awarded the debate to Ms Gillard emphatically, while Channel Seven’s polliegraph gave it to the Prime Minister by a nose,” notes Phillip Coorey in The Sydney Morning Herald.

“Neither Julia Gillard nor Tony Abbott will be disappointed with their performances in last night’s leaders’ debate, as both avoided any serious mistakes. But Abbott, who is trailing in the polls, need to make a bigger impact than proved to be the case,” writes Tony Walker in the Financial Review [paywall].

Others were quick to give the win — or at least a near win — to Abbott. “Tony Abbott has dealt himself back into the election race with a narrow victory in last night’s leaders’ debate,” says Phillip Hudson in the Herald Sun.

According to Matthew Franklin and Patricia Karvelas at The Oz, Abbott defied the “low expectations” put upon him. “The Opposition Leader put on a disciplined performance in last night’s leader’s debate, overcoming underdog status to come close to victory,” they write.

Oz colleague Paul Kelly seemed equally as impressed by Abbott, writing “This was Tony Abbott’s best moment. He may not have outpointed Julia Gillard but he exceeded expectations and looked, as never before, a viable prime minister.”

Tony Abbott also got the winning thumbs up from Annabel Crabb at The Drum, who noted that “Mainly, it was a relief to see them disagreeing with each other.”

But Abbott will have to get more than a pass grade to win, writes Peter Hartcher in The Sydney Morning Herald. “Tony Abbott made a strong critique of the Gillard Labor government in last night’s debate, but utterly failed to establish his own party as the alternative.”

Tony Wright at The Age had a sure fire debate victor “Indeed, the winner was . . . David Speers! … He stood alone between the two contenders and tried valiantly to provide a match as both Gillard and Abbott sought to slide away from anything approaching substance.”

It doesn’t matter what the media thinks, writes Barrie Cassidy on The Drum: “Political parties obsess about what the media thinks of the debaters, but in the end, people make up their own minds. Julia Gillard didn’t win, or Tony Abbott didn’t win because Joe Blogs, political correspondent for World News, thinks he or she did. Audiences at home make up their own minds, and they are influenced not by Joe Blogs, but by what they just saw and heard.”

Meanwhile, in actual policy news, over the weekend Scott Morrison and Tony Abbott announced a plan to cut immigration to just 170,00 people per year. But there is some confusion over exactly how the 170,000 will be counted, says Bernard Keane on The Stump. “Good luck telling highly-skilled migrants that they can move to Australia but they can’t bring their partners and kids with them,” writes Keane.

Will it include temporary skilled and student visas? Is the immigration number already dropping?  Commentators seem unimpressed by this move by the Coalition.

It’s a populist policy writes Peter van Onselen in The Oz: “Population policy is a complex area and it will take some time for experts to fully dissect the merits or otherwise of the Coalition’s new policy. But politically the government will need to respond to it quickly if the populist pitch in it is to be countered.”

“I fear a race to the bottom on immigration,” John Hewson at The Drum.

Stephen Lunn at The Oz thinks the numbers are dodgy: “The figures just don’t add up in this increasingly sleazy population debate.”

Yes, the numbers aren’t quite right, says Dennis Atkins at The Courier-Mail, “…but it doesn’t distract from the fact many voters will find Abbott’s craven calculation attractive.”

The overused slogans of this campaign– Julia’s ‘Moving Forward’ and Tony’s ‘Real Action’– are dumbing down our political conscience, said Tim Soutphommasane in The Oz:

Today the measure of success for the politician is to stay “on message”. The conduct of politics tends to prioritise personality over policy, symbols over substance, the comfortable over the controversial. But citizens have also been complicit. When we watch politicians on vacuous talk shows or variety entertainment programs, we encourage the dumbing down of our politics.

It’s also a morning of polling, with the latest Newspoll [PDF] out in The Oz showing the two-party preferred vote as 52-48 for Labor, a rise of three points to the Coalition.

Tony Abbott is narrowing the gap on Julia Gillard in the primary vote, writes Dennis Shanahan in The Oz. “The election campaign has become a tight contest”.

Today’s Galaxy poll has the same figures as Newspoll for the two party preferred, but notes that one in ten voters are uncertain of who they will vote for and the Greens’ primary vote has risen to 15%.

Let’s hope the second election campaign week has a few more thrills in store…



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119 thoughts on “Who won the debate?

  1. Oscar

    This may indeed have been “Tony Abbott’s best moment”. But it wasn’t nearly good enough.

    And what’s with all the wimpy commentators who are afraid to declare an opinion one way or another? Here’s mine:

    Gillard won unequivocally. Not surprising – she didn’t really have to do much other than turn up, stand there and let Abbott display the negativity for which he’s justly renowned.

    Question to Abbott: “What would you do about …”

    Answer from Abbott:”Well, aaahhh, I’ll, aaahhhh, tell you what I WONT do, aaahhh … ”

    Abbott’s a born opposition leader if ever I saw one. He has found his role in life and it would be a shame to take that away from him.

  2. leone

    Only rusted-on supporters would have bothered watching in the hope of seeing their man or woman beat the other side to a pulp. Who may or may not have ‘won’ is irrelevant because not one vote would have changed sides as a result of The Debate. I didn’t watch, couldn’t be bothered. I’ve decided who I’ll vote for and I didn’t want to sit through an hour full of spin and mantras about ‘pink batts and school halls’ and ‘moving forward’, because neither side gets my vote. I’m voting independent – again.

    Does anyone else think that delivery-wise Julia Gillard is sounding more and more like Maggie Thatcher these days? Same slow, measured delivery, same quiet, low voice. Julia sounded much better before the image makers started trying to change the way she speaks.

  3. skink

    I thought it was fairly clear who won


    he got a trophy and everything

    I mean, who can’t recognize a hollandaise sauce ?


  4. leone

    Nah, it wan’t hollandaise, I thought it was some sort of pink stuff with eggwhite in it, all soft and lacking any substance, just like the content of the debate.

    But what would I know? I was busy watching a rerun of my The West Wing dvds.

  5. David

    Why was it called a ‘debate’ ? A series of statements and answers to prepared questions by hand picked journalists was more akin to a party political broadcast.

  6. merlot64

    Less of a debate than an exercise in brand management….

  7. Bob Weis

    Who won the debate is a question that is answered by who you are and what you want.

    I wanted to see Phoney Tony lose his cool but what I saw was a measured reading of scripted remarks and a huge effort to pull in a natural tendency to be nasty while lying through a smiling mouth about almost everything.

    With Julia I saw a restrained performance by a person who could hear the lies and I assume thought the people watching would know or not be persuaded by name calling. I noticed Julia seemed confident of her facts and didn’t need to read.

    I am also prepared to emigrate if PT wins but it seems impossible to believe.

  8. skink

    I was impressed that The Oz and The Hun managed to spin it into an Abbott win purely on the basis that he wasn’t a total car crash and didn’t bark at the moon.

    every sane analyst, including some from the right like Sinodinos, called it for Gillard.

    Given that these debates are generally won by the Leader of the Opposition – even Latham – then the fact that Abbott’s failed to convince even his most one-eyed supporters should be viewed as terminal.

  9. Oscar


    Generally agree, except that Abbott’s campaign was already terminal, so perhaps the media are right to regard this as something of a reprieve for him.

    If he had performed as badly against Gillard as he did against Rudd, it would have been “all over red rover” for him – he probably wouldn’t have even lasted till the end of the week, let alone till the election.

    As things stand now, he will (probably) at least make it to the finish line. Then he can look forward to the “night of the long knives” that will inevitably follow.

  10. Orchardo

    My partner and I treated it like a job interview…

    – Tony Abbott just didn’t talk like he wanted the job – sounded very happy where he was.
    – Julia Gillard seemed a bit more together and more forthcoming with details, examples, etc.

    Very little mention of green issues, understandably given the lack of good policies on either side… Still a shame none of the media luminaries chose to ask about these issues though…

  11. Acidic Muse

    Julia Gillard absolutely wiped the floor with poor Tony on both substance and presentation…it was actually sad to watch him wallowing in a sea of negativity like that, constantly railing against her slogans when his own responses were stacked high with his various “Action Man” slogans

    It’s a sad reflection on the quality of political commentary in this country that so many of the pundits are playing safe and calling it a draw. For some that is a probably a function of the extremely low expectations they had of Tony Abbott – for others I have no doubt his underdog status compelled them to talk up a seriously flaccid performance

    I think there are also also commercial and political imperatives at play here for some of our media giants to make this election as close as possible. For our corporate media mavens, a tightly contested election not only maximises the political advertising spend they carve up between them, but also guarantees larger audiences as our obsessively voyeuristic population watches on in white knuckled excitement. This I believe is why instead of analysing in depth the policies of either party, they invest most of their resources in playing up the “human drama” of it all – to make it look as much as possible like the reality TV that rates so well

    In the case of the ABC, decades of being bashed by the right for perceived left leaning bias has cajoled them to ever increasing journalistic cowardice in recent years. I am still marvelling at Kerry O’Brien’s amazing hypocrisy in asking Kevin Rudd if he would resign the leadership for the good of his party less than a week before spending days feigning righteous indignation over Rudds removal. Granted O’Brien was one of many who viciously witch hunted Rudd then cried crocodile tears at his political funeral, but it’s even sadder when someone I once rated as top of his craft stumbles in this way

    Given Toxic Tony and the Turramurra Tea Party will continue to get a relatively light-handed treatment by the media, the ALP will definitely need to lift their game considerably if they don’t want to be a one term wonder.

  12. Lorna

    The debate showed no clear winners, to say it was a Goolard white wash is just more ALP platitudes. The fact that there was not clear winner could also imply that Abbot had won the debate – if I recall, it was Joolia who gave in typical “me too” answers while clawing at the TV screen. Can one of you ALP stooges tell her to put her talons down – yuck.

  13. David

    @Lorna…meeow hiss scratch..not Ms Bishop under another name are you?

  14. Oscar


    Your argument would have more impact if you sheathed your own claws.

  15. Sausage Maker

    The Young Lib goons are out in force today voting for Abbott on every online poll on who won the debate. Newspoll ‘surprisingly’ comes out with a poll that says the Coalition is within striking distance of the ALP. Just like they were in the last Queensland and South Australian elections and how Newspoll said it was certain that the Libs would win Tasmania.


  16. Gratton Wilson

    None of the commentariate mentioned that Tony broke the rules that had been laid down for the debate. He began a tirade against what Julia had just said, out of turn, and would not stop speaking when the compare instructed him to do so.
    Obviously Liberals not only have “Work Choices” in their DNA but they are serial breakers of the rules of fair play. There were several instances when Abbott made statements that were of dubious veracity and Julia stuck to her commitment to abide by the rules laid down. It is all about keeping your word – Abbott will not do it if he becomes Prime Minister. He will not abide by the rules nor the promises he made before the election.

  17. Oscar

    @Gratton Wilson,

    Well observed. Abbott not only has the “born to rule” philosophy common to so many in his party, he combines it with a “god-given right” mentality that probably comes from his peculiar background and training.

    This combination is truly frightening. He wouldn’t hesitate to change his position on just about anything after the election, and may even believe he would be perfectly justified in doing so.

    Fortunately I don’t think he will be given the chance by the electorate.

  18. Acidic Muse


    The Channel 9 “worm” gave it to Julia 67% to 37%. Channel 7’s Polliegraph also gave it to Gillard by a smaller margin.

    I could go into how this variance can explained by the fact that 7 used Pollster Roy Morgan to source a cross-section of all voters for their focus group whilst 9 used only “undecided voters” … but I suspect, like so many right wing reactionaries, maths may not be your strongest suite

    Your reference to “goolard” is probably meant to be ghoulard – an allusion to the mythical monster less sophisticated people still think lurks in graveyards. No doubt it’s difficult to discern the correct spelling when you hear this stuff on talk back radio 🙂

    Allah be praised for Julia’s commitment to put more resources into education

  19. Astro

    Abbott won debate, his answers were honest, whereas Gillards were from the spin sheet

  20. Socratease

    I could not force myself to watch the thing.

  21. powerisnotstrength

    I’ve got to hand it to Julia Gillard. When she can say – her words – that the Labor government has “Lost its way” and still claim it’s performing brilliantly, she’s pretty clever.

    When she can get Tony Abbott to do all the hard work of campaigning against the dead Workchoices on her behalf, and no matter what he says just call him a liar, that’s pretty clever.

    When she can waffle for five minutes in response to a simple question …
    [But can you give us a simple number. How many times did you warn Kevin Rudd that his government, your government was on the wrong track before you took his job? Was it once? Was it twice? Was it three strikes and you’re out? How many times did you tell him, did you warn him, before you took his job?]
    … without even answering it, instead waffling about her “hard decision” and turn it into a snide attack on Abbott …
    [and I understand Tony will make some political points about it. But Tony knows what it’s like to think that your political party needs new leadership – that’s why he’s standing here instead of Malcolm Turnbull.]
    … well, she’s pretty clever.

    Pretty clever, I’ll give her that. And if that’s the sort of cleverness that wins debates in the eyes of you clowns – who made your minds up in advance anyway – well, you can take your debate “victory” and stick it in your eye. Which is exactly what most of you are already doing.

  22. Billy Blogs

    I can’t wait for Bernard’s outrage at the ALP staffers calling the journos with a few ‘suggested’ questions they might want to ask Abbott :-).

    What’s wrong Julia, don’t you think we believe your spin anymore?

  23. Oscar


    You seem to be saying that Abbott’s answers were not scripted. If so, then by his own admission we shoud not believe him.


    I don’t think there’s any question that Gillard is clever. I think it probably just comes as a bit of a surprise to some of her detractors that she’s easily clever enough to beat a Rhodes Scholar.

  24. macroeconomist

    There seemed to be a lack of opportunities for reply and counter-reply. This meant neither candidate could delve deeply into the claims and counter claims of their opponent. Not much drilling by the journalists. Pretty tame debate.

    I thought Chris Ulhmann came up with the question of the night – he could have phrased it better though – certainly ironic that the current PM who was the the IR minister that returned the unfair dismissal laws, uncomfortable talking about the number of warnings (written or otherwise) Rudd got – I think the average employee gets three. All the bleating by the elites about equality and a fair go, and looking out for the little gipper, but when it comes to one of their own, it is all forgotten in the powerplay.

    Seems everyone has right to be protected ungainst unfair dismissal (or have their day in court), but not Kevin Rudd – never has the gap between principle and practice been starker.

  25. Lorna

    Acidic Muse,

    Oh stop, please – your hurting my sides from laughter.

    More assumptions and more platitudes however, I did like your comment on Ghoulard – my reasons for referring to the ranga as goolard is a little different but I still like your explanation – it does clarify why she always has her talons in the air. Oh ar, I do love the sheeple, the common volk – you make me feel goooooooood.

  26. powerisnotstrength

    OSCAR – If you remember schoolyard bullying and mockery, it’s easy for a practiced thug to make fun of a highly intelligent but less tactical-minded, more socially awkward student. That’s the difference between cleverness and real intellect; the thug is a lot better at it because he has lots of practice and little else to think about.

  27. Liz45

    @OSCAR – In relation to the Rhodes Scholar attribute of Abbott’s. I’ve heard the explanation as to how he ‘gained’ that, and it’s not as good as it sounds. I also think that being intelligent is one thing, the way you use that intelligence is a completely different question. Abbott’s ‘intelligence’ is blunted by his nasty and hateful attitude to too many human beings. He being a strong or committed so-called christian is both disgusting and amusing!

    I’d have liked Bob Brown to take part also. This americanisation of our political system is disturbing. At least they didn’t have the two bloody flags strategically placed! I don’t think it was a debate as such, and I reckon Abbott would be still suffering from having to leave his nasty side outside the building!

    Antony Green has predicted a Labor win – he’s only been surprised 3 times out of about 50 – so, all these polls are really a nonsense – he uses a tried and true method of reading the ballot on election night, so I’ll stick with his reputation and ability! I’ve never been asked one question in a poll – and I’ve been voting for 44 years! Must be millions of others like me! Also, women now make up 52% of the population, so if women favour Julia Gillard, then she’s ahead already, isn’t she? The Greens will be my choice before the ALP!

  28. Troy C

    I love the way Oscar so transparently attempts to dress up his one-eyed support for Labor in a cloak of reason.

  29. Troy C

    Also, women now make up 52% of the population, so if women favour Julia Gillard, then she’s ahead already, isn’t she?

    A touch simplistic, perhaps. Imagine the confusion that would reign among the female population if Julie Bishop were Gillard’s opponent. What do we do! Which way are we going to vote now?

  30. SusieQ

    Leone, I agree – the only thing missing from Julia last night was the Thatcherite string of pearls!
    I started watching it and thought the opening statements from both candidates showed what a race to the bottom this election has become. Not sure if anyone noticed Tony’s dog whistle about how he and his wife have bought up a family and strugglied with the mortage, bills etc?
    Anyway, the debate was so fascinating, I then drifted off to sleep on the sofa (the culmination of 3 weeks of Tour de France watching) only to be woken by a friend’s text message complaining about how boring the debate was – I could only concur. I noticed Bob Brown was reduced to twittering for the Ch 9 coverage.

  31. David

    @TROYC……”if Julie Bishop were Gillard’s opponent. What do we do! Which way are we going to vote now?…it will never ever happen, not even the Libs are that stupid. One of the funniest moments from the weekend came at Abbotts press conference in Perth on Saturday when he declared Bishop will be the greatest foreign minister of all time, oh the joy, the humour, the utter nonsense.

  32. powerisnotstrength

    Also this idea that nobody offered any real policy is pretty immature. When it comes to big, exciting, sexy policies, Labor will always outshine Liberals. That’s because Liberal policy is intrinsically dry, economic stuff.

    Liberal philosophy is that the exciting stuff is generated out in the community and the states, but this requires a strong economy and an impartial government keeping it fair. That makes it boring for the uneducated. It just doesn’t allow for much in the way of all-singing all-dancing Five Year Plans and programs like BER with the word “Revolution” in the title.

    For me, Tony Abbott has promised plenty. You people better think about what you want from Canberra: do you want responsible government, or do you want entertainment?

  33. Troy C

    I’ll agree with David that there isn’t much chance, if any at all, of Julie Bishop ever being elected leader. I cited her only because she’s a woman. But what would happen, I wonder, if we did have two female leaders? If it’s as simple, as some suggest, that women vote for a woman? Surely there would be much head-scratching and confusion amongst the female population.

  34. Oscar


    Yes, you’re right – Abbott was true to form. Try as you might, you can’t escape your upbringing.

    @Troy C

    Does calling my reasoning a ‘transparent cloak’ make you feel better about being unable to refute it?

  35. Oscar

    @Troy C,

    I can’t believe you just posted such a misogynistic comment.

    I think I will leave it to others to give you the roasting you so richly deserve.

  36. Troy C

    I can go with you Oscar, point for point. But there isn’t much point in going with you point for point, because you’ve made up your mind and I mine. I just don’t pretend to still be making up my mind. The comment that you thought was misogynistic was a joke, based on the (flawed) premise that men will vote on policy and women will vote for a woman. I don’t believe it’s true. I don’t think many people are so absent-minded as to cast their vote based on one’s birth properties.

  37. Oscar


    You can’t read my posts and seriously claim I’m somehow pretending to be still “making up my mind”? LOL!

    You and the fruit loop – what a pair of geniuses!

    Oh, and by the way – pretending that you were “only joking” when you get caught out making unfortunate comments doesn’t impress many people either.

  38. Troy C

    Oscar, you can’t read my posts and seriously claim that I wasn’t joking about women voting for a woman? LOL!

  39. A. N. Onymus

    Poll after Michelle Grattan’s latest article (link in Crikey article above to the article in National Times, same article and poll also found at http://www.smh.com.au/federal-election/no-clear-winner-in-uneventful-debate-20100725-10ql7.html (and possibly in other Fairfax media ?):

    “Has the leaders’ debate helped you decide who to vote for?
    Yes, the differences between the leaders was clearer.
    No, neither said anything different to their campaign slogans.”

    With 20 hours to go before the poll closes and with 4044 votes cast so far, it’s 24% for the Yes vote and 76% for No.

    I’m in the No category. However, unless the major parties rule out the Internet filter I’ll be putting the Greens and everyone else ahead of both of them. Interesting, too, that the filter didn’t rate even a mention in the “debate” — quotes intentionally used as it was not my idea of a debate, regardless of the rules, and turned out to be, for me at least, a waste of viewing time.

    I jumped around on the channels during the debate, preferring ABC1 to avoid (a) ABC News 24’s annoying bottom-text-ticker (which I had hoped in vain the ABC would remove at least for the debate) and (b) the worms on Seven and Nine (although I did go to them occasionally when I thought a comment by Julia or Tony might cause some strong worm movement). Despite the fact that I was not impressed with the “debate” and felt I had wasted time watching it, I must be a glutton for punishment because I continued to watch the post-debate analysis on ABC News 24.

    That analysis, I felt, was strung out as long as possible with minimal benefit. The only time I felt it wasn’t strung out was when Chris Uhlmann hurriedly viewed Bob Brown. His questions were rushed, and he cut Bob Brown off several times before Brown had finished answering. At the same time, apparently when Ali Moore crossed to Chris Uhlmann, her mike remained “live” as a couple of exchanges in the studio and later a door slamming loudly cut across the Uhlmann/Brown interview. When that rushed interview was concluded, I waited in vain for an apology from Moore about technical hitches. Did they not realise what had happened?

    (Unrelated to this Crikey article about who won the debate, but as I didn’t see the explanation or program leading up to it, I’m still at a loss to understand why later in the evening, when I thought I would check on whether ABC News 24 was still, or again, talking about the debate or had moved on, an episode of Compass was showing. At first I thought I had gone to ABC1 by mistake, but I hadn’t as that channel was showing a different Compass program at the same time.)

  40. leone


    I didn’t watch, so I didn’t hear Tony’s comments about the struggles he and his wife had paying off the mortgage and raising kids. Whatever he said, it was phoney. Abbott and his Mrs have never struggled financially. She’s a career woman, a former mechant banker, journo and teacher who now runs a childcare centre. (No wonder PT is so keen to pump more money into childcare, the family will reap the benefit of that). You don’t buy a house in Forestville and send your kids to expensive private schools if you are financially challenged.

    I did notice that Abbott took out a $710,000 second mortgage on his family home in April 2008 shortly after going into opposition. Actually it was two loans – on April 7 and April 8, 2008 – taken out the day after he paid off his original $285,000 loan taken out in 1994. He claimed it was to help finance the family’s expenses as he was now doing it tough on a backbencher’s pay. $710,000 to help finance ‘normal’ expenses? What do these people do? Then he ‘forgot’ to declare the loan in the parliamentary regisiter until last month. How do you ‘forget’ that you borrowed $710,000? And how do you struggle financially on a parliamentary salary? Tony needs to get out and talk to real average Aussies who really do struggle on low incomes.

  41. Troy C

    Tony needs to get out and talk to real average Aussies who really do struggle on low incomes.

    Working families?

  42. Acidic Muse

    @Power Those of us who don’t have the attention span of goldfish well remember the Coalitions take on “responsible government” last time they were in power – stripping away protections and benefits for working Australians, de-funding public health and education whilst massively subsidising the profits of private sector, squandering the windfall from our last economic boom on tax cuts for the wealthy instead of investing in vital infrastructure ..etc etc

    Conservative populism is predicated on a strategy of manipulating the fear and ignorance of the less politically literate lower socio economic classes in the hope enough of them can be conned into voting to their own economic detriment to ensure a Coalition government. It’s no coincidence that Census data shows most outer suburban marginal seats as having the lowest levels of educational attainment in the country.

    THIS is the reason our political discourse has become so dumbed down … it’s now crystal clear to both the politicians and the media who gets to decide elections – and both the campaigns and the coverage of them reflects this

  43. Johnfromplanetearth

    Julia has perfected the Gatting ball!

  44. Astro

    @ leone

    You are incorrect.

    Tony Abbott declared on the parliament register that he re-drawed a large amount of money on his home mortgage. He lives in a modest house on west Forestville.

  45. Liz45

    @TROY – Well, that’s the way the media is carrying on! I’m not impressed with Labor either, particularly re climate change, asylum seekers etc. How can Labor announce any new policies? They’d immediately be criticised by the Opposition, not to mention the msm.

    If I hear the Coaltion members rabbiting on about “the surplus” provided by the previous govt, I’ll scream. How did they have a surplus? The taxes provided by the people weren’t spent. The reason for the “huge surplus” was because the Howard govt ignored putting any money into infrastructure – schools, hospitals, transport, roads(only about a quarter of monies from the two taxes we pay on petrol was put back into roads?) etc.Monies spent in the community were mainly about helping out their mates, and buying votes. Monies not spent on essentials for the people – after all, it’s our money!

    When the Coalition rants on about waste and extravagence, they neglect to mention the fact, that Howard increased the size of govt, including his own dept, at the expense of closing down the Dept for Women for example(that became part of the PM’s dept?) and we have him to thank for the gap between men and women’s incomes going back to that of the 80’s. Using our taxes to illegally invade sovereign countries without any reason. The pork barrelling prior to the last election was blatant and shameful. There are bridges around this country that need either repair or replacement. This is too costly for local govts, but was totally ignored by the Howard govt for almost 12 years. There are more examples of that govt’s neglect and abuse of our taxes.

    Huge surpluses only come about through huge neglect of our vital necessities around the country. At the same time, WorstChoices was allowing wages to decrease to the low to middle income earners, while allowing CEO’s blatant and obscene increases. The cost of living increased by 40% over the last 10 years – wages and pensions didn’t increase by anwhere near that amount, and in fact, Howard/Costello rarely supported the most moderate increases! I find their now concern for our grocery spending irritating to say the least! What will Abbott do to pensioners if elected? What assistance re respite care for carers of severely disabled people? The list goes on and on! Neglected the citizens, and then boasted of being ‘fiscally responsible’? They wear it as a badge of honour, despite the misery suffered.

    Then, Labor gets in, and people expect it all to be fixed over night, otherwise they whinge about promises not fulfilled! This in spite of the fact, that the Libs voted against so much of Labor’s Legislation just for the sake of it!

    As for how Rudd was dumped? As Waleed Ali said on Q&A last week, nobody complained about the calls for Howard to be dumped prior to 2007? Howard refused to go, and always claimed, that he’d stay ‘as long as my party wants me’? His first priority was to what his party wanted, not how the people voted! And, if the Opposition are so outraged at the way a PM was dumped in his first term, blah blah, then why didn’t they show him more respect? Why didn’t the media? The gross hypocrisy makes me sick! None of them give a hoot about how we vote – we’re just seduced prior to elections, and given the mushroom treatment for the intervening years?

    As to the immigration numbers? Howard increased them markedly in every sphere but asylum seekers. Under Malcolm Fraser, there were 170,000 Vietnamese asylum seekers allowed to settle here in 2 years. They’ve become wonderful citizens and contributors to this country. We’re all enriched by them living among us. The sun has risen and set ever since. It was Costello who actively encouraged more babies – now Abbott is raving on for opportunistic reasons. They allowed the system to be rorted, and people coming here to study contribute at least a billion to the economy. Very few of their so-called policies show any deep thought or pre-planning. The so-called population policy, reducing immigration numbers was going to decrease anyway – to about 150,000 – less than what Abbott and Scot Morrison are raving on about! They treat us as though we’re idiots, or can’t remember any facts, figures and/or past behaviours! Drives me nuts!

  46. shepherdmarilyn

    Watching SBS news was far more interesting than watching two losers bashing refugees for blood sport and the appalling media letting them.

  47. SusieQ

    Yes but Astro he would hardly be struggling if he and his wife are living on two good incomes and with all the expenses an MP can claim! Please!!!! I agree with Leone, its all a fake and a phoney designed to show up Julia for being an out of touch single female (because of course, we don’t have bills and mortages to pay do we?).
    Oh, and who mentioned that dreadful phrase ‘working families’ – Troy, go the dunces corner right now!!! !

  48. Liz45

    @ASTRO – Tony Abbott declared on the parliament register that he re-drawed a large amount of money on his home mortgage.
    What exactly does “re-drawed” mean?

    I also remember him bellyaching after he lost govt, having to live on a backbencher’s income! I nearly threw up! If only most Aussies had that trauma to live through! $180,000 plus lerks and perks? Kids almost grown up; no babies or sick or disabled children? Other challenges? Mental illnesses – particularly those brought about by overwork and underpayment of workers/carers/pensioners etc? Or those poor people who can’t even find a place to rent, let alone buy their own home! Hasn’t said much about homeless people has he? At least Labor has injected monies into public housing around the country!

    @SHEPHERDMARILYN – I wished I had done that too! I thought there’d be much discussion about the so-called debate, so watched out of a perceived necessity, and was busy also?My eldest son participated in the debating team while in High School – I was often his ‘audience’ – good too! Occasionally there’s a debate on TV – a real debate! Most enjoyable!

  49. marcus

    So over it already. Not only do the two politicians sound the same, but it looks like all the media is pretty similar too. Yawn. When will Bob Brown be given a guernsey at one of these things. I’m guessing never.

  50. leone

    @Astro – no I’m not incorrect. Abbott toook out the loans in April 2008, he didn’t declare them until a bout a month ago – two years later – and only after it was questioned. This is an apparent breach of the parliamentary rules covering MPs’ pecuniary interests, they are required to register any changes to interests, benefits or liabilities within 28 days.

    Poor Tony took a $90,000 pay cut when he lost his ministerial salary and found it difficult to live on a mere $100,00+ income. Private school fees can be so expensive.

    As for the Abbott residence – maybe James Packer would think it modest, to most of us it’s pretty palatial.

  51. Astro


    His kids went or go to a Catholic school, so hardly out of the norm in Australia. His house is a 40 – 50’s built house.

    You have Bob Hawke on a waterfront mansion in Northbridge and Paul Keating in the Eastern Suburbs, both of which are in better housing that John Howard.

  52. powerisnotstrength

    ACIDIC MUSE – Some of that is fair criticism, although –
    – much of the “stripping away protections” was actually stripping away of monopolies on labour enforceable by union violence or threat of violence backed up by federal laws, but I agree there were other parts that went too far;
    – much of the “tax cuts for the wealthy” produces higher wages for the less wealthy via the multiplier effect, although there were also outrageous pork barrels;
    – “de-funding public health and education” – I won’t accept that one, Howard replaced special-purpose grants to the states with the GST, allowing the states to be responsible for these things as they are supposed to be. It was Rudd-Gillard-Swan who then resumed the practice of attaching conditions to state grants even with GST money.

    But yes, there were some bad decisions and inappropriate uses of federal power and funds under Howard.

    It’s ironic that Abbott is being crucified because he has too much integrity or self respect to say, as Julia Gillard keeps saying, “Oh, my previous government lost its way but you can still trust me.”

  53. Oscar


    So – you seem to be saying that “success” is a bad thing in a PM?

    Is that why you guys rolled Malcolm Turnbull? He was too successful to be PM?

    Ok – if I’m following your logic correctly, then you definitely made the right decision making Abbott opposition leader – his lack of success knows no bounds.

  54. GocomSys

    Why don’t we all focus on the fundamentals for a change and not loose ourselves in details! The underlying ‘political amnesia’ in the media and the electorate should be our main concern! Are we going to squander the goodwill of the last three years only to return to the dark era of confrontational conservative extremism? Let’s hope not! Good luck OZ.

  55. Venise Alstergren

    It astonishes me that so many people found something of substance in last night’s “Great Debate”? (One person? Maybe two.)

    I never cease to wonder how the little weasel Tabbott obtained his Rhodes scholarship. He is barely articulate, and his patronising usage of old fashioned Ockerisms-even if the term did happen to be born in China-left this voter puking.

    In fact it was his sixth use of the term Fair Dinkum which saw me reaching for the remote control.

    I don’t think Julia Gillard is trustworthy. Not at all, not at all! But she does have an air of class about her. Which is at variance with her self-pronounced working-class roots.

    The mad monk has all the class of the nearest alley cat.

    I’d like to have seen a three way debate to include Bob Brown. After all the Green’s voters will be the decisive factors in this election.

    In a ‘competition’ where no one seems to be saying much at all, I would give the nod to Julia. After all, she does look the part. Whereas the mad monk should go back to his cell.

  56. GocomSys

    @ OSCAR Very refreshing. As always your down to earth comments make good sense. Keep it up!

  57. LauraJ

    Expectations on Abbott were so low that as long as he just stood there and didn’t run and strangle Julia Gillard halfway thorough the thing, he didn’t have to say much at all for the media to be saying stuff like ‘Coalition closes the gap’ blah blah blah….

    For the Coalition to be “closing the gap” after Abbott’s tirade of negativity and lack of policy direction people’s brains must have been fried along with the food on Masterchef afterwards.

    Also, what sort of serious journalist asks the Prime Minister “how many times” she told Kevin Rudd the government was going off track? What a moronic question!

    It’s like asking how many times someone drank water today or how many times they pressed spacebar on the laptop. Umm, like, 2? 15? 68?

    Utterly idiotic. Try asking about policy. At least Gillard has some and doesn’t count saying “this is a bad government” as policy.

  58. Liz45

    @VENISE – Hi Venise! I heard something about Abbott’s alleged Rhodes Scholar achievement, and there’s something about how he ‘got it’? I hear all these bits and pieces, but don’t have a ‘phot memory’ and so don’t recall the details. Most frustrating! It was along the lines that he didn’t do the conventional amount of ‘work’? Damn, wish I remembered! His lack of language skills has always irritated me. As I said before – one thing being intelligent, it’s how you use that intelligence that makes the difference! Hitler was intelligent too – so history says!

    As to the continuing nonsense about the dumping of Rudd. I was reminded that the Libs got rid of John Gorton about a year after he became PM – and what about Gough Whitlam?The Libs are still justifying tearing up my vote in ’75! They suffer from convenient amnesia when it suits them!
    I don’t really trust any of them – I like the Greens – state and federal people!

    I wish Bob Brown had participated in the debate. I think it’s quite rude to exclude The Greens – too much like the US style of campaigning. I remember when the leader of the major parties would make the speech to launch the campaign, and the Ministers/Shadow Ministers would also be on the stage or wherever – not any more!

    I think tonight’s Q&A will be good. Christine Milne, Penny Wong, Graham Richardson? , a person from the Liberal camp (organiser etc)Malcolm Turnbull and ? I wonder how many times he’ll squirm re the CPRS that he worked on with the ALP and now the Opposition has welched on! Could be interesting! Christine Milne is very knowledgeable about climate change etc. I like her no nonsense approach too! I think it will be more lively and interesting than last night’s so-called debate!

  59. David

    I was under the impression the two leaders were not to bring notes or scripts, but were issued with pen and paper to make notes during the session, Abbott obviously decided to do his own thing. Also the pre set rules indicated neither was to interupt the other while any one of them was answering a question. Again Abbott did the mongrel thing, cannot help himself, a bro from the bronx as always. Climbed in when it suited him or JG was getting good points accross. The man is just a bully always will be.

  60. powerisnotstrength

    LIZ45 – Wow. You say you “heard something about” it? “Something about how he ‘got it'”? You “hear all these bits and pieces,” “along the lines that he didn’t” really legitimately earn it?

    Gee, I guess we’d better rush off and complain to the Dean of Oxford University based on such a solid, detailed, well-supported allegation of improper use of an academic qualification. How lucky we are that you’ve exposed the fraud with such an irrefutable catalog of evidence.

  61. Roberto Tedesco

    Is there a focus group out there, somewhere, where the mindless repetition of “fair dinkum” gets the thumbs up? Every time I hear this from a politician (Howard’s “Saddam needs to be fair dinkum about this…” is the best example I can recall), I’m afraid I assume I’m being fed (even more) shit.

  62. EngineeringReality

    The debate was like being flogged with a wet newspaper. (quote from a real politican – when we used to have them)

    Why do these muppets think people will vote for a stage managed dog and pony show over real people is beyond me.

    What a bunch of soft, cardboard cutout, forgettable, nebulous shadows both “leaders” were last night. They are too worried about doing anything wrong that they don’t want to take any risks.

    It had all the excitement of watching a fight between two hermit crabs after they had been superglued inside their shells. Anyone watching the debate felt like they had taken 5 valiums and jumped on top of an olympic pool sized beanbag. Wondering if the buzzing in your ears is the valium, the droning politicians or the beans rustling as you wiggle your posterior to get more comfortable.

    Julia, Tony. Both Piss poor. Piss weak.

    Then a few whispered words by the forked tongues of media minders into ears of both about how much fear a few thousand people in boats is causing that they mindlessly cracked skulls & locked horns like two caribou in heat.

    No wonder our country is like it is. No value placed on intellectual assets. Our brightest head overseas to where their knowledge and skill are valued.

    Here its all about sports, cooking and endlessly rabbiting away at how much more capital you’re going to throw away into your unproductive property. As for earning foreign income if we don’t dig it up or grow it we don’t want to know about it. No idea how we’re going to pay the half a trillion dollars of foreign debt we have racked up on our national credit card.

    This country sells off low value minerals and then goes into debt to buy it back after being maufactured into something else.

    Where is the vision of the future? Where are the plans to capitalise on our knowledge, ideas and skill. Yes we might be building a world class broadband network – but how are we going to ensure that the digital intellectual property flowing around the internet in the future is earning export dollars for our country?

    Where is the plan to ensure Australia has its own Sony, Nokia, Google, Microsoft, Motorola, Samsung or Siemens?

    Well we won’t come even close to any changes to the current situation with the current offering of monkeys to govern us.

    I’d rather not vote and cop the AEC fine.

  63. Oscar

    @EngineeringReality said ….

    “Well we won’t come even close to any changes to the current situation with the current offering of monkeys to govern us.”

    “I’d rather not vote and cop the AEC fine.”

    Let me get this straight – your solution to the “current crop of monkeys” is to “not vote”.

    I seem to have missed the part where you explain just how exactly you think this attitude is going to change anything.

  64. Liz45

    @POWERISNOTSTRENGTH – I was hoping I’d trigger someone’s memory!

    Does Abbott sound like he’s a Rhodes Scholar? I mean someone even asserted that George W. Bush went to Uni too! Now that is stretching the truth! You tell me what his accreditations are then, smarty pants? Can you prove that he studied and sat for all the exams etc? What subjects? What marks? Now, Bob Hawke is also a Rhodes Scholar as is Kim Beazley – they DO sound and act like educated people. They can debate and discuss issues in an ordered manner! I’m not a fan of Bob Hawke, but he is an educated and competent person, who articulates his arguments extremely well.

    Abbott? You must be joking. His demeanour, language skills and borish/bully mannerisms don’t depict an educated person to me! More like someone who got their ‘degree’ from a Weeties packet! If he’s an ad for a Rhodes Scholar, then I’m glad I didn’t ‘achieve’ his brand of education! Julia Gillard is more articulate than Abbott!
    I’d like to see the evidence that’s all! A Rhodes Scholar wouldn’t have to rely on bullying and stumbling around the language like he does – he just sounds incompetent in english language skills, something that both Hawke and Beazley aren’t! What did he get it for? Latin? Perhaps an A+ in misogyny?

  65. leone

    According to Abbott’s own website he did an economics/law degree at Sydney Uni then went to Oxford as a Rhodes scholar and gained an MA in Politics and Philosopy. He’s also very proud of the two blues in boxing he won at Oxford. Did they have special consideration for jocks back then? Did Oxford accept oiks from the colonies and give them study-free degrees if they were ‘good at sport’?

    What did our Tone do with all that high-fallutin edjamakation? Did the Jeuits at Riverview or the Catholic priests in charge of his seminary influence him at all? Did he become a lecturer at uni or a top barrister? Sadly not. He became a journalist, then in a failed attempt to get in touch with normality he managed a concrete plant for a while. He admits he got this job through Sir Tristan Antico and the Jesuit network. Then he became a political staffer.

  66. powerisnotstrength

    LIZ45, if you want to make a case that the qualification of Rhodes Scholar is overrated, go right ahead – preferably with evidence, but there’s no law that opinions have to be informed or intelligent.

    But what you’re doing, with absolutely no evidence of your own but some feeling you’ve got, now you’re concocting an allegation of academic fraud out of thin air, and you’re challenging me to prove his qualification is not fraudulent! I’ve read some hatchet jobs from you but this baseless slur is the first time I’ve seen you venture into blatant actionable slander. It’s a disgrace, even for you. I suggest you furnish evidence or retract your words.

  67. JamesK

    It’s Liz45, PINS.

    Easy does it.

    Even though she is even more unreasonable than you say, there are other readers with open minds……….

  68. Wobbly

    All future leaders debates on Q&A please, but with the audience selected off the street not filled full of poltical staffers and organisers.

  69. Liz45

    @JAMESK@PINS – If only the real truth about Abbott would come to light! This is a stroll in the park by comparison. Abbott has built his political career being a bully and acting in a thuggish manner. Where was he when his NSW mate, a fellow headkicker defamed Michael Kirby? Why didn’t Abbott act in a ‘catholic’ manner, outraged at such lies against a man whose ‘crime’ was, that he’s gay! Abbott has no right to take the high moral ground, nor does he deserve your blind support! If only that woman felt confident, strong enough to come forward……………….Maybe one day………

    You prove that he has the right to claim to be a Rhodes Scholar added to his CV? You can’t – any more than I can prove that he didn’t ‘achieve’ this recognition! A person with that sort of educaation doesn’t pronounce ‘sure’ as ‘surewa’? Get real! I know people who didn’t have access to this type of education, but they’re twice as smart as he is, and more articulate! They don’t ‘execute’ english either? I suppose his ‘minders’ are being paid! Imagine this person on the floor of the UN? Or in the US senate? Cringe, cringe!

    @JAMESK – I feel your blow to my head! Got you figured out too!

  70. JamesK


    Which great opponent of Cartesian dualism resists the reduction of psychological phenomena to a physical state and insists there is no point of contact between the extended and the unextended?

  71. Syd Walker

    Who won the debate?

    That’s easy.

    News Corp.

  72. powerisnotstrength

    [Please refrain from insulting other commenters – Mod]

  73. powerisnotstrength

    MODERATOR – so you are still there. Then do your damn job for once, and if you value it, go and ask your boss or your boss’s lawyer about having slander against a public figure on your website. And I suggest you either put “report abuse” links in your blogs as reputable websites do, or flag the word “slander” for closer attention.

    LIZ45, you make an accusation of academic fraud with no substantiation except your “feeling” and then have the hide to demand I counter your “feeling” with evidence. That’s not how it works, but in the interest of shutting this down, here is the evidence. Now put up or shut up.

    JamesK – very funny (private joke everyone). But there are also people stupid enough to believe LIZ45’s lies about a person have any substance.

  74. Oscar


    Don’t you think you are going a bit over the top here? Liz questioned Abbott’s right to call himself a Rhodes Scholar, you countered with evidence. She appears to have accepted your evidence.

    Can we get back to the subject at hand now? Which is that Tony Abbott – according to both commercial TV station’s worms and also various commentators – lost the debate?

    Or would you rather sidetrack the discussion further?

  75. David

    @Powerisnotetc…let he who is without sin…….that eliminates you. Im with Oscar stick to the topic.

  76. powerisnotstrength

    Get something straight, Oscar. I have a very low opinion of the two top ministers in the current leadership, and I’ve made no secret of it, but I’ll react the same way to any such defamation against them. Use of vicious smut and personal shit-slinging offends me most of all when it’s used to push my own side of these debates, but I take exception to its use by any side.

    And I’m still waiting for you to do more than clumsily try to infer contradictions by deliberately misunderstanding Astro, Troy C, and EngineeringReality. All three of them are playing the ball not the man, are you ever going to do the same?

  77. powerisnotstrength

    I have to agree with WOBBLY. Q&A is the established format and timeslot for federal political debates. Gillard last appeared in August 2009 and Abbott in April this year. Abbott’s final line in the recent debate was “Let’s have two more of them.” Well, how about it?

  78. skink

    regarding Abbott’s blue in boxing – it’s not quite the achievement he portrays.

    I spent a term training with the Cambridge boxing team in the eighties. I was crap. I was encouraged to continue because they had difficulty in fielding a full team at blue and half-blue in all weight divisions, and often the lighter divisions were not contested at all. The sport wasn’t popular and was under continual pressure from other sports to have its Blue status revoked due to poor participation and the health risks. Oxford were in a worse position.

    the team rarely fought competitively because it was difficult to find opponents of suitably modest standard. Few other Universities had boxing teams. Amateur clubs in the city occasionally used to put up juniors to fight the University, but were reluctant to put properly trained boxers in the ring with students. The only guaranteed competitive fight was against Oxford.

    it is therefore likely that Abbott only fought two fights to get his ‘two blues’, one each year in the Varsity.

    I’d be curious to know whether he won them.

  79. Liz45

    @PINS – How many people who boast of being educated to Abbott’s alleged level say, ‘shore-wa’ for the word ‘sure’? Basic english skills! Abbott is an idiot, and speaks like one! Watch last nights 7.30 Report! He walks like someone? who’s just come out of the jungle! He’s an embarrassment to the country! The person who told him to leave his nasty side outside the national press club, should polish up his communication skills, and suggest that walking like a gorilla isn’t a good look for humans! Particularly if they want to walk the world stage as a leader!

    As for me slinging mud at Abbott! I’ve watched Parliament frequently enough over the years to know, that he’s a nasty, sarcastic, spiteful little man, who’s frequently used the lowest forms of language against his oponents! Let him fight his own battles – he’s good at it!

  80. David

    @SKINK…I imagine it would depend if he told you verbally he won both or read the result from the judges cards

  81. skink

    From Abbott’s website:

    However, at Oxford in 1982, I was having a few drinks at a hotel with, among others, Paul Mankowski who said to me: ‘Tony, the boxing team’s a bit short, we need a heavyweight. Why don’t you come down and try out?’ I said ‘no – not interested’. A year or two later he asked me again, so I said ‘all right’. Later, I thought: ‘How do I get out of this?’ I turned up at the gym with a battery of excuses but Paul the Jesuit prevailed.

    this rather confirms my suggestion that if you turn up and train, you’re going to get a Blue.

  82. powerisnotstrength

    SKINK, according to this report, Abbott entered boxing reluctantly after a heavy night of drinking, shamed into it by a Jesuit priest who could not afford clothes but who had bought him a skipping rope for a gift. His entire boxing career was just four fights in which he knocked out his first (Cambridge) opponent in 45 seconds, defeated a Sandhurst cadet in the first round, TKO’d a Royal Marine in the second round, and defeated another Cambridge pussy when it was stopped in the first round.

    Any fool can get in the ring the first time, but I take my hat off to you and to anyone else who goes back for more a second time. The measure of a boxer’s skill might be what he can give, but the measure of his character is what he can take and still hang in there.

  83. Syd Walker

    Funny how things work out.

    Abbott might have made a good prelate, consoling people over their suffering when their lives were blighted by illegal unnecessary wars based on lies.

    Instead of that, he chose to leave the priesthood and become a politician who directly advocates, promotes and legitimizes illegal unnecessary wars based on lies.

    On Sunday night, he debated with a former socialist who now also directly advocates, promotes and legitimizes illegal unnecessary wars based on lies.

    Nice that these overseas-born Australian paranoiacs have found something else to agree on in their middle age apart from the paramount need for ‘border security’ to defend the nation from the threat of a flotilla of refugees fleeing from illegal unnecessary wars based on lies.

  84. skink


    phone message

    the nienteen-thirties called for you. They wan’t their values back.


  85. Oscar


    “And I’m still waiting for you to do more than clumsily try to infer contradictions by deliberately misunderstanding Astro, Troy C, and EngineeringReality. All three of them are playing the ball not the man, are you ever going to do the same?”

    Gosh, where to start? …

    I’ll leave it to others to judge who is continually so keen to divert this thread onto anything other than the topic of “who won the debate?”. My first post in this thread was absolutely on topic, and (as far as I can see) has not been refuted. So are most of my other posts, except where yourself, Troy C and others have sucessfully managed to divert the thread to other issues.

    I would also invite others to review YOUR first post in this thread – that’s the one where you call the rest of us “clowns” for (as far as I can see) simply holding an opinion contrary to your own.

    As for “infering contradictions”, I invite you to re-read EngineeringReality’s post. If you really can’t spot the contradiction in that post, then you should be thankful there are still people like me willing to take the time and trouble to point them out to you. I also can’t fathom how you can possibly claim that I “deliberately misunderstood” those lines I quoted.

    Now, back to the topic at hand …

    I think Julia won the debate. She was polished, professional, to the point, and had a positive message to which I think many people responded well. On the other hand Tony was aggressive, negative, hesitant, uncertain and had mainly negative things to say, to which many people responded badly.

    What do you think?

  86. Acidic Muse

    @ Power

    What on earth would be the point of two more debates when most of the commentary on the first one revolved around ” it was boring, they said nothing new, they sound exactly the same and other inane drivel about the relative size of each candidate earlobes. Frankly I’m not sure it’s in either party’s interests to further engage each other in such a sanitised, structured and ultimately boring format.

    That said, I’d love to see Julia and Jug Ears go toe to toe in the more free-flowing format of Q&A.

  87. powerisnotstrength

    SKINK – you’ve lost me there. Say what?

    ACIDIC MUSE – yes, as I said I agreed with WOBBLY: “All future leaders debates on Q&A please”

    OSCAR – I’m not too proud to admit I was frightened by Julia Gillard’s pasted-on smile throughout the entire debate, which looked more and more like a grimace as time went on. At least she is learning to vary her wording, so the message has got through that people are tired of slogans being used like the dinner bell for Pavlov’s dog.

    I find it disturbing when a national leader waffles at length rather than answer a question (“How many times did you warn Kevin Rudd?”) and then repeats it:
    [SPEERS: Just quickly, Prime Minister, Chris’ question is not about what was said in confidentiality but just how many warnings? Were there three, were there none?
    GILLARD: Well I am not going to canvas conversations that I had when Kevin Rudd was Prime Minister and I was Deputy Prime Minister – simply not going to do that.]
    Has she never heard of the phrase “No comment”? And can we assume from that, until further notice, that there were no warnings at all – in other words that her personal ambitions took priority over any attempt to rescue a government which in her words had “lost its way”?

    Abbott was boring of course, and I would have hoped that someone who has a real passion for Law, Economics, Politics, or Philosophy (as opposed to gaining very exacting qualifications in all four) could come up with something more inspiring than end the waste, pay off the debt, stop the taxes, and stop the boats. I see three of those as the very minimum I would demand from the next government, and the fourth is a bipartisan beat-up.

    However, Gillard’s only real line against Abbott is to keep on insisting that he is going to bring back Workchoices in spite of his denials. When you accuse someone of a future act that he hasn’t done yet, and ignore whatever he says to the contrary, that’s not debating, and there’s no real defence against it. You will. I won’t. You will. I won’t. It comes down to the audience’s gullibility, or the ability to conflate any IR “tweaks” at all with a substantial return of the WC package. That said, Abbott has been playing far too defensively on IR, so he can hardly be surprised when Gillard takes advantage of it any way she can.

    In short, I agree with most of the commentators that it was pretty dreary stuff. Abbott at least reassured me that he can speak competently without improvising new policies on the fly which his caucus later rules out. I consider Abbott the safe (if boring) option for the next PM. “Safe” may sound pessimistic to younger people, but I’ve seen governments much more careful than the current one do so much damage, that I dread Gillard like a bull in a china shop.

  88. JamesK


    “She appears to have accepted your evidence”

    Liz 45 says: “HA HA HA HA HA HA! YE HA hahehahahahahehahehahehahehehaehehehe …loud maniacal laughter, then rolling on the floor with more maniacal laughter, followed by a coughing fit, followed by security escorting PINS from the building….

    @ Acidic Muse

    A looney left ABC moderator …… say akin to our Crikey moderator who moderates out PINS’s post which I read and is not insulting except to Crikey moderators ….. but thinks Liz’s nonsensical bile is just dandy?

  89. Oscar


    Ok, so your conclusion is that Gillard waffled a bit, and frightened you (which I guess I have no problem with – Abbott scares the bejeezus out of me!), but Abbott was boring and unispiring and had nothing new to say.

    Given that Abbott is the challenger and well behind in the polls, it seems to have taken us all around the houses to get you to agree with my first post. – i.e. it may well have been Tony’s finest moment in public debating, but it simply wasn’t good enough.

  90. David

    @powerisnot….you say “However, Gillard’s only real line against Abbott is to keep on insisting that he is going to bring back Workchoices in spite of his denials”. …if you really believe that then you are either over medicating or stupid or both. You know damn well that is rubbish.

  91. powerisnotstrength

    OSCAR – Yes that’s about it. That’s enough for me. Gillard and Swan are doing to Australia what Bob Carr has already done to NSW. I’d go with anyone half competent who can rescue us from it. We’ve had some good Labor governments, even great ones. One of them deserves most of the credit for setting Australia up to outperform the whole world during the GFC, which is exactly what it did. The current team on duty have successfully stolen all the credit for that. Gillard knew enough to pay lip service for this on 24 June –
    [“I give credit to the Labor giants, Bob Hawke and Paul Keating, as the architects of the prosperity of modern Australia. I give credit to John Howard and Peter Costello for continuing these reforms.”]
    – and then, lip service paid, goes back to claiming credit for a feat of economic prowess. At best, a third-rate Labor government overspending when advised to do so by the IMF is like a stopped clock being right twice a day. At worst, the many pro-housing-bubble interventions were not stimulus they were pork barrels with anti-employment side effects, the opposite of stimulus, and even the measures which were pro-employment were political stunts first and stimulatory second – grossly inefficient.

    The most I can hope for in the next three years is a holding pattern with some fiscal responsibility which does little harm, until some real leadership comes along. Abbott showed me on Sunday night that he’s good enough. He’s no blaze of light across the sky, but he’s good enough.

  92. Oscar


    I agree with some of your analysis (or at least I don’t disagree enough to argue) but not with your conclusion.

    Abbott will never convince me he’s a “safe pair of hands”. His outlook and thinking are too far removed from the mainstream, and so his previous record on policy. Also he too obviously doesn’t really believe in many of the things he now finds himself having to say in his quest to get elected.

    And those are his better points – you could say most of them about just about any politician.

    His worst points are that he doesn’t believe in climate change, he doesn’t believe in unfair dismissal laws or workplace fairnesss, he’d rather see women kept behind the ironing board than on the company board – or safely off having children once they give up the “most valuable gift” of their virginity (or whatever that patronizing paternalistic phrase was that he used). He opposed RU-486 when he was health minister. He also opposed Gardasil. He’s also anti-abortion.

    How could anyone bring themself to vote for a man with such an obvious fear, mistrust and hatred of over half of the population?

    I’m afraid that in the “fruit loop” rankings, Abbott even beats Senator Fielding.

    My personal opinion of the man – and yes, I have met him – I will keep to myself.

  93. Liz45

    [Please refrain from insulting other commenters – Mod]

  94. skink

    I think that every day someone should repeat Peter van Onselen’s quote:

    “if Liberals won’t stand up for workplace reform, why bother ever electing them?”

  95. powerisnotstrength

    SKINK – There’s a principle in liberal philosophy that comes from Voltaire: “Le mieux est l’ennemi du bien” (The best is the enemy of the good). Put another way, it means work with what you’ve got, don’t go tearing everything down and rebuilding from scratch just because it’s not your first choice of how it should be.

    Based on this principle, I thought Abbott handled a question similar to van Onselen’s point very well:
    [ABBOTT: … what (business people) are telling me is that there has been a lot of change, too much change they say over the last few years, and what they want is a period of stability. They say they can live with imperfect laws. What they can’t live with is constant change and so I am going to give them a period of stability.
    SPEERS: But Tony Abbott if you believe that reform is in the interests of boosting productivity why don’t you lead on this. Why don’t you convince Australians that this is the way to go?
    ABBOTT: Well because, as I said, I respect the verdict of the public, the verdict of the people at the 2007 election, and the Prime Minister will say, she has said repeatedly, that the Government’s existing laws provide scope for improvements to productivity. Let’s give those laws a chance.]

    DAVID – Of course you can just deny it and insist that he will bring back WC, and you can call me overmedicated, stupid, and a liar for taking him at his word. There’s absolutely nothing I can say to that which hasn’t already been said, because we’re talking about the future. Suppose I accuse my wife “You’re going to cheat on me.” Not, “you have cheated” or “you are currently cheating” but “you are going to cheat on me”. If she denies it, I could simply deny her denial no matter how adamant she is, and keep repeating my accusation. There’s just nowhere to go from there.

  96. Malcolm Street

    shepherdmarilyn –
    “Watching SBS news was far more interesting than watching two losers bashing refugees for blood sport and the appalling media letting them.”

    Excellent summary of the debate. I kept thinking, as the asylum seeker/”boats” issue went on, and on, and on “is this what our country has come to?”

    Re. the debate on Tony Abbott as an example of a Rhodes Scholar – a friend of mine who was doing Arts/Law at Sydney the time both myself and Abbott were there came up against him in a mooting contest during his law studies. His verdict: “I’ve never come across such an idiot”!

    Remember one of the qualifications for a Rhodes Scholarship is athletic ability – it’s not just done on academic records. Our Tony may be thick, but he’s fit.

  97. David

    @powerisnotstrength…what the past tells us about the biffer boy Abbott, he has form, he has history, he put the boot in when the victim was down and out, he is the person Howard turned to time and time again to throw the sh-t, he never hesitated in his delight at doing it and year after year over 12 years in the House of Reps he stood like an attack dog hurling abuse and vicious personal attacks….he now demands we accept this new mild pleasant soft, angelic family man…. forget it, he is marked as an attack dog. Something similar to the accused at the Nuremberg trials , who insisted they were only obeying orders. Manure over time may cease to stink, it is still manure

  98. powerisnotstrength

    OSCAR – Yes, I can see how social backwardness could be a show-stopper for many people, if combined with the bullying style that some people perceive in him (but which I haven’t really noticed, maybe I missed something that everyone else saw), and the dictatorial power that some leaders exert over their parties (but I doubt if Abbott will wield that kind of power). I would certainly nor recommend voting for a candidate who scares you, even if I have a different take on who’s the scary one.

  99. powerisnotstrength

    DAVID – “Something similar to the accused at the Nuremberg trials , who insisted they were only obeying orders.”

    I can’t let that one go. What does that make Julia Gillard in her government which “lost its way”?

  100. Oscar

    @David, PowerIsNotStrength

    According to Godwin’s law, this discussion is now over.


  101. powerisnotstrength

    That was my point. It may even have been over before that, when Skink made a cryptic remark about 1930s values, but I’m not sure because he has yet to explain it.

  102. Venise Alstergren

    @DAVID: Your eloquence is not wasted. Of course Tony Abbott was the Howard hit man. The remnants of the good old fascist Catholic types that littered the landscape in the Germany of WWII have all been distilled into the life’s blood of Tony Abbott.

    The joy of being a Jesuit is precisely the point. A Jesuit excuses all moral lapses by saying he was only following God’s orders.

    How neat is that?

    Anyone believing Tony Abbott has undergone some sort of religious transformation, and emerged a better person has got a serious mental problem. Remember the Jesuits’ porn-call. “The end justifies the means.”

    Tony Abbott believes every letter in that quote.

  103. Venise Alstergren

    @DAVID: Your eloquence is not wasted. Of course Tony Abbott was the Howard hit man. The remnants of the good old fascist Catholic types that littered the landscape in the Germany of WWII have all been distilled into the life’s blood of Tony Abbott.

    The joy of being a Jesuit is precisely the point. A Jesuit excuses all moral lapses by saying he was only following God’s orders.

    How neat is that?

    Anyone believing Tony Abbott has undergone some sort of religious transformation, and emerged a better person has got a serious mental problem. Remember the Jesuits’ call of justification. “The end justifies the means.”

    Tony Abbott believes every letter in that quote.

  104. powerisnotstrength

    Venise, if Godwin’s law means nothing to you, you might at least study what fascism really is before you try to pick which candidate or side of Australian politics more closely fits the stereotype.
    This definition from answers.com is as good as any place to start:
    often Fascism
    1. a. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.
    b. A political philosophy or movement based on or advocating such a system of government.
    2. Oppressive, dictatorial control.
    (Italian fascismo, from fascio, group, from Late Latin fascium, from Latin fascis, bundle.)]

  105. Venise Alstergren

    PINS: I know exactly what fascism is ” 1. a. A system of government marked by centralization of authority under a dictator, stringent socioeconomic controls, suppression of the opposition through terror and censorship, and typically a policy of belligerent nationalism and racism.”

    This description is exactly how the Catholic church has always, and will always operate.

    Perhaps it is you who should research the Catholic church’s joining with the German fascist party during WWII, and the hundreds of thousands of people who died as a result of this.

    Do me a tiny, and don’t come back to be saying “Oh well, but there were good Catholics who did good things by saving the lives of Jews during this era.”

    For you to do so would be to ignore the fact that nobody goes down in history as doing good things, unless the evil that is going on at the time doesn’t become illuminated by the reverse dichotomy of good.

    Not only do I stand by my comment. I endorse it!

  106. Venise Alstergren

    MODERATOR: How can one have an intelligent conversation when discussing the Catholicism of the leader of the opposition, Tony Abbott, who is, after all, a devout, Jesuit-trained Catholic?

    Or is the machine also programmed to go off when discussing the Catholicism of Barnaby Joyce, Steve Conroy, Kevin Andrews, etc, etc?

    Does the machine have the same problems when it comes to Atheism? I think not.

  107. Venise Alstergren

    If it’s racism that did the trick, I can only hope the previous commentator got the same moderation, because I lifted it from his comment.

  108. David

    VENISE…as the mod is a machine its working parts can be hehehe hijacked…you are on to it.
    In another thread sorta…Yet another big noting jurno, Tony Wright National Affairs Editor of The Age has burst into print with yet another reveal all from persons who cannot be named..as for example…..

    Julia Gillard did a credible job this morning of trying to limit the damage of continuing leaks.
    But the paranoia within her party about who is doing the leaking – and more to the point, why – remains at fever pitch. While many suspect an embittered Kevin Rudd or his supporters are somehow behind the leaks, senior Labor MPs and officials privately believe this is far too neat and convenient…..

    so it goes on hot gossip from faceless all knowing Labor figures, these lame brain reporters just dont get it. After the Oakes debacle one would have hoped some degree of sanity would return, obviously not.

  109. Venise Alstergren

    David, I have not got the faintest idea WTF the bloody machine is banging on about.

    I am not having a row with anyone, and by using a process of elimination I worked it out that the word they object to is the three letter word, starting with the tenth letter of the alphabet is the word I’m not allowed to use.

    When you consider that I was discussing how hundreds of thousands of them had hideous deaths thanks to the Catholic church during WWII, I feel a certain sense of outrage.

  110. David

    VENISE and so you should, pity Crikey cannot find a few dollars to employ a moderator of the human kind. Rather difficult to have an arguement with a machine.

  111. Amber Jamieson

    Hi commenters.
    I’m someone who works as a Crikey moderator, and we are definitely of the human kind. Which also means we go home in the afternoons from work and therefore, at times, your comments will be held up for moderation overnight.
    And Venise, while I understand your outrage since you weren’t saying anything offensive, people do say offensive things, regularly. Which is exactly why we automatically pick those words up, just so we can run an eye over the comment.
    Cheers, Amber Jamieson

  112. David

    Hullo Amber how wonderful to know you are not a machine. There is a God after all 🙂 I hope Crikey pay you well and you are wise and fair in your moderating,
    Perhaps you should give us a list of the naughty offensive words that will cause you to delete. Forwarned is forarmed.
    Have a nice day.

  113. Venise Alstergren


    Hi Amber,

    I know YOU are not a machine. I was imagining that a machine cast its evil eye over the comment. Then held it for a ‘mature’ audience. But when I posted, separately all the possible offensive words, only the word ‘J s’ failed to make it through.

    I couldn’t imagine that it might be offensive.

    It was a good article, Amber.


    It did it again

  114. Amber Jamieson

    Venise and David,

    We won’t tell you the naughty words list, because then you just figure out how to get around them 🙂

    And it’s not that words are necessarily offensive, but can be used in an offensive way.


  115. David

    @Amber…Thankyou oh wise and informative moderator. May your duties bring a smile not a frown as you churn through the words of we, your obedient bloggers.

  116. EngineeringReality

    @Amber Jameison

    That sounds just like the ALP internet filter.

    We won’t tell you what we are not allowing you to see/use because that will be bad for you but trust us….


    “And it’s not that words are necessarily offensive, but can be used in an offensive way.”


  117. Venise Alstergren

    @AMBER: We love you too. 🙂 😎

  118. Venise Alstergren

    DAVID: Hahahahaha v funny. Hehehehehe

    ENGINEERINGREALITY: OMG how true. How true.

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