Bill Shorten leaders debate
(Image: Seven Network)

Scott Morrison had vim and vigour and even had his opponent on the ropes a couple of times, but Bill Shorten came out ahead in last night's leaders' debate because he understood election debates are most effectively used as extended media conferences rather than opportunities to interact with your opponent.

The lesson goes back to the first televised debate in Australia, between Bob Hawke and Andrew Peacock at the National Press Club in 1984. Hawke treated it as a debate. Peacock spoke straight to camera and pitched his remarks to the audiences watching at home, not the occasionally rather merry audience in the room. Shorten also spoke to the camera while Morrison spoke to Mark Riley and Lanai Scarr, but more importantly Shorten used the debate to deliver his key point to voters, about the economy not working for them.