Sunday, August 11, 2013

Election debate: Chris Bowen defends Kevin Rudd for using notes during first ... -

Voice of Australia, Sun August 11 News Corp Australia's election team says Tony Abbott is the winner of the campaign's first debate.

TREASURER Chris Bowen has defended Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's decision to use notes during the first debate of the campaign last night.

"Nobody would doubt how on top of his brief the Prime Minister is," Mr Bowen said.

"I think we can get caught up in details here.

"I think everybody would think it's perfectly appropriate for all leaders to have some notes to guide them through, whether it be a debate, a press conference or a speech."

Mr Bowen would not say, however, if he thought Mr Rudd should ditch the notes at a future debate.

Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott during the Leaders Debate at the National Press Club. Rudd has been accused of using notes. Alan Porritt/Getty

"I think the Prime Minister put in a very solid performance last night," he said.

Mr Bowen said it was a mistake to assume Labor's campaign had lost momentum after just one week.

"We are in this election to win it. It's tight, it's neck to neck, it's close," he said.

"I believe we can win it across the country."

Kevin Rudd swots up for the debate. Picture: via Twitter

Mr Rudd has been accused of cheating during last night's debate after using speaking notes to help him against Tony Abbott.

The debate's moderator, Sky News political editor David Speers, revealed following the debate that the Prime Minister had used the paperwork against the rules.

Paper shuffler ... Kevin Rudd takes to his notes during the debate. Picture: Supplied Source: Supplied

Footage of Mr Rudd shows he was holding a pile of papers and he appeared to repeatedly reference them while talking.

The PM and opposition leader have had a dead-heat in the first leaders' debate of the election campaign.

Live now: Follow our rolling coverage of the election.

Kevin Rudd refers to notes during the first Leaders' Debate.

But Speers said he had not noticed during the showdown as he was focusing on his own job moderating and asking questions.

According to the rules signed off by both parties and issued by the National Press Club on Friday, both Mr Abbott and Mr Rudd were prohibited from having pre-prepared paperwork.

Back to his notes ... Kevin Rudd again refers to his papers during the Leaders debate. Source: News Limited

"The leaders may have a pen and paper on the lectern and no other documentation or props,'' the rules state.

In the debate wrap up, Speers said: "Kevin Rudd had notes. That wasn't allowed under the rules.''

Shaking hands ... The PM and Mr Abbott end the debate at the National Press Club in Canberra. Source: News Limited

Liberal frontbencher Andrew Robb later seized on the issue, pointing to the Prime Minister's claims the election was about trust.

"Mr Rudd said this election is about trust and the first thing he did was cheat," Mr Robb said.

"He broke the agreed rules about no notes. I think Tony Abbott looked like a leader and Kevin Rudd look a reader."

Accused of cheating ... The PM Source: News Limited

Mr Abbott said he thought it was odd that Mr Rudd had notes.

He confirmed he was told not to bring any notes.

"I was interested to see that Mr Rudd turned up with a big wad of papers and he did seem to be reading his opening and his closing statements,'' Mr Abbott told Gold 104 FM radio in Melbourne.

"It did strike me as a little odd, given that they were the rules, that he brought all those papers in.''

A spokesman for Mr Rudd said: "There was absolutely no intention to do anything other than comply with the rules.

"The PM arrived at lectern in full view of the audience and the panel. There were no objections raised at any time.

"We have always believed this rule is aimed at preventing the use of props.

"The PM is happy to debate Mr Abbott at any time during the election campaign without notes."

Firing: Opposition Leader Tony Abbott makes a point during the debate Source: News Limited

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Commentators panned Mr Rudd for looking down at his notes during the debate and not speaking frankly off-the-cuff.

Labor figure Graham Richardson said: "If I was Kevin Rudd, I would sack whoever wrote them."

The key moments of last night's debate Source: Supplied

Sky News commentator Peter Van Onselen declared it "cheating" and said it was "outrageous" - even if it was a silly rule in the first place.

"The rules are laid out and both leaders have agreed to it ... it is a disadvantage to Tony Abbott," he said.

"Kevin Rudd cheated."

Mr Rudd had joked before the debate about his preparations on Twitter, where he posted a photo of himself surrounded by paperwork.

"I have lots of official briefs for the debate," he tweeted.

"Does anyone have some good jokes? KRudd."

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Let us know what you think on Twitter using the hashtag #voiceaust

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