Each day Crikey asks the sharpest political commentators which leader got the best of the campaigning day and why. And we’ll track where they are and what they’ve announced  …


Bernard Keane, Crikey Canberra correspondent: A confident speech by Kevin Rudd to kick off the campaign yesterday put him ahead of Tony Abbott, whose performance in giving what should have been delivering a long-prepared campaign kick-off speech was curiously flat and directionless. But the evening news bulletins reversed that, especially with Seven News delivering the good news of a ReachTel poll showing the Coalition extending its slim lead and then reporter Mark Riley crossing to a live interview of Abbott (but Jeff Kennett as an election analyst, Seven? Really?). A narrow win to Abbott.

Richard Farmer, Crikey election analyst: I give it to Rudd — the collective sighs of relief that the nonsense of reading about the possible election date was over were enough to make the man who finally ended the speculation the winner of day one.

Jane Caro, author, social commentator and communications consultant: Marginally a win for Rudd, casting himself as the underdog is quite a smart tactic and I think the Coalition are feeling a bit of pain. We’re having a repeat of ’07 in a funny way, with Abbott being Rudd-lite, like Rudd was Howard-lite in 07. That will be an advantage to Abbott. The weird thing is it feels like it’s between two non-incumbents, both are fighting as if they are in opposition.

Ian Smith, partner of Bespoke Approach and former Liberal Party advisor: It has been fairly predictable in the first day or so and given the tight scripts and the experience on both sides, expect the predictable. Rudd’s predictable demonising of Abbott and his desire to be positive has been undermined by polls today – he will have to do more than say ‘beware of Tony’. The Libs’ first advertisements today predictably went positive. The overwhelming view is of an economy in disarray — endorsed by Treasury effectively last Friday — and if your only defence is the ratings agencies, then you’re in trouble. Moody’s and S and P means little to a swinging voter and not a lot in western Sydney. The leader is obviously Abbott.

Dr Dennis Glover, veteran Labor speechwriter and fellow of the Per Capita think tank: Although the Liberals got out of the gate quicker with Abbott doing multiple live interviews this morning, his original press conference lacked focus. The Liberals seem to have a lot of messages but don’t seem to have sorted out exactly what they stand for. Labor’s slogan “a new way” sounds like a soap opera in the 8:30pm time slot soap opera — the sort of thing Asher Keddie would be on. Social media is already a defining feature of the campaign; the appeals for $10 donations says a lot about the way social media strategies will influence the campaign. Social media is to raise money, which will probably pay for more social media. The winner is Labor.


Kevin Rudd: The Prime Minister started the day in Canberra and has, unusually, been absent on social media this morning. There has been nothing from the PM on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter since yesterday. Rudd and Abbott have both appeared on ABC’s AM, with Rudd saying that he knew he was the “underdog” in the campaign. Rudd’s slogan is “A new way”, and he told AM “what the Australian people want is a new approach for the future, which is based on positive policy and bringing the country together — government, business, unions — to deal with the central economic challenge which lies ahead”.

Tony Abbott: Starting the day in Brisbane, Abbott has already been sighted in high-vis gear, starting the campaign at “Your Choice” butchers. The Opposition Leader hit the ground hard with appearances on Today, 3AW with Neil Mitchell and Classic Hits FM in Sydney. He says that he refused to debate the PM tonight because he has a post-Ramadan engagement in Sydney that he doesn’t want to cancel.

Christine Milne: The Greens leader has started the campaign in Melbourne with MP Adam Bandt. She has criticised Abbott’s pledge not to deal with minority parties.

The rest: Clive Palmer launched his PUP campaign in Brisbane, saying that the election should be a “battle of ideas”.


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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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