Monday, August 12, 2013

Debating the debate takes up the day - Sydney Morning Herald

Kevin Rudd has defended his use of notes during Sunday night's leaders' debate in Canberra, arguing he was not advised it was contrary to the agreed rules and that it was important to get his facts right.

Mr Rudd's obvious use of briefing notes during the one-hour event at the National Press Club, sparked a political slanging match on Monday that appeared to overtake the importance of the debate itself in the scheme of the overall campaign.

One opposition frontbencher, Andrew Robb, came out swinging, calling Mr Rudd a cheat and not a leader but a ''reader''.

While most onlookers scored the lacklustre debate as a narrow win for one side or other with many opting for a draw, a buoyant Mr Abbott hit the hustings in Victoria to talk up his $1.5 billion commitment to build the east-west road link project.

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He refused to criticise his opponent directly over the issue of notes instead choosing ridicule.

''The problem for the Prime Minister last night was not that he was reading from notes, it was that the notes weren't worth reading,'' he said.

However, vision from his 2010 encounter with Julia Gillard suggests Mr Abbott had relied on notes in that debate despite an identical rule being in place.

On the hustings on Monday, Mr Abbott may have wished he had used notes himself, when he made an embarrassing mistake declaring nobody was the ''suppository'' of all wisdom. He had meant to say ''repository''.

That touched off a wave of digital sniggering across the internet.

While Mr Abbott was campaigning in Labor-held seats in Victoria, Kevin Rudd was in the NSW seat of Bennelong announcing the second parcel of $35 million for skills retraining in as many days.

That money is aimed at up-skilling manufacturing workers dropping out of the slowing investment phase of the resources boom to equip them for the emerging 21st century manufacturing jobs in everything from aviation to medical technology.

All eyes on Tuesday will be on joint Treasury/Finance Department Pre-election Economic and Fiscal Outlook report, which will reveal the latest state of the economy and budget, and thus increase pressure on the opposition to release costings on its policies.

While Labor trails in the polls, including another out on Monday, a separate issues poll conducted for the Australian National University found that global economic turmoil and the asylum seeker issue had combined to destabilise voters, pushing the economy and jobs ahead of other concerns such as climate change.

The July 9-23 poll of 1200 people predated the election campaign and found that concern over global warming had halved since 2010 but worries over job security and boats had risen steadily.

More than half of all respondents picked the economy as the number one issue and 28 per cent nominated immigration as the second most important.


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