Steggall v Abbott debate
Zali Steggall and Tony Abbott. (Image: AAP/Damian Shaw)

The candidates' debate last night between the two front-runners for Warringah -- independent Zali Steggall and Liberal Party incumbent Tony Abbott -- served to confirm what we essentially already knew: they're both energetic candidates and persuasive talkers; they're both taking this seriously; and they both think Steggall can win. The revelation was as much because of what didn't happen, as what did.

When he is being questioned or challenged (particularly, it has to be said, by women) Abbott sometimes has a certain tendency. We saw it when a 67-year-old called up while he was on ABC radio and he gave host Jon Faine a wink when she mentioned she was a sex worker. We saw it back in March when he and Steggall last debated. It's the constant interjections, and a jocular, mocking invitation to see his opponent as he sees them.