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Do Debates Help?

Hands up how many of you have seen both so-called leaders’ debates? Not too many I will wager.

It seems that the Liberal party got to choose the venues, the times and the broadcaster and in Perth that was The West Australian as moderator and Channel Seven’s second channel as a broadcaster. Some of the questions were loaded but fairly evenly : Morrison was asked twice about his preference swap deal with Clive Palmer but wasn’t able to reassure the audience that it was just normal politics : Shorten was pointedly asked about border security and Labor’s record in a loaded question prefaced by “800 boats carrying more than 50,000 illegal arrivals flooded into Australia; 1,200 people lost their lives at sea under Labor” straight out of the Liberal party songbook.

Of the 48 undecided invited guests, 25 gave the win to Shorten 12 to Morrison and 11 remained undecided.

Then the Liberals chose Brisbane, the Courier Mail and SKY News for last Friday’s debate : nobody watched as it cut into footy time (both AFL and NRL) and this time there were 100 supposedly undecided voters invited although one woman – could have been Dorothy Dix – who was worried about her religious freedoms clearly wasn’t going to vote Labor any time soon.

Morrison had evidently been advised to intimidate Shorten and crowd his personal space in a Trump-like manoeuvre: didn’t work as planned with Shorten going for the zinger and calling him a “classic space invader” which sent Morrison scuttling back to his corner and much laughter from the crowd.

This time it was 43 to Shorten, 41 to Morrison and 16 still undecided: SKY called this a draw! I wonder how they score the footie?

Shorten will be doing a solo appearance on the ABC’s Q&A program on Monday, May 6 taking questions from the audience but so far Morrison has not committed to doing the same. Labor has also proposed a third debate at the National Press Club on May 8 with journalists from Nine, the ABC and another media outlet on a panel but Morrison has yet to confirm on this one either. Perhaps the initial enthusiasm for public confrontations is no longer so popular with the Liberals who have also been accused of hiding their ministers in witness protection – some of them should be in solitary confinement as far as I’m concerned!

Overall, Shorten has benefited from these debates as it has given those who bothered to watch a clear contrast between the two men and has shown Shorten to be well briefed and have a positive vision for the future, and a mischievous sense of humour; these qualities are not so evident in a somewhat wooden Morrison. He comes across as bombastic and evasive particularly when it comes to the potential chaos that this preference swap deal with Clive could have in a future Senate.

It seems that Shorten has gained confidence and that the punters are warming to him………let’s hope so.

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  1. Aortic

    Is it 19 May already? Sorry I must have dropped off.

  2. Joseph Carli

    The Tide.
    Like a sailor old, who watches the tide,
    Life’s many moods I do abide…and still I watch,
    For there comes a wash of the river flow,
    That carries the ebb, what comes and goes.
    That “tide in men’s lives” that carries their thoughts,
    Like flotsam swept before a wave wild wrought
    By wind and storm or by deceiving calm they be brought,
    To wreck upon Charybdis rocks or wash up on rugged tor.
    Fortune for that sailor who with astute eye,
    Will risk the temper of mood and tide,
    And call the exact moment makes best to ride.
    He casts the ropes that hold him belay,
    All wind and storm be no delay.
    Yet I and thee, chained to life’s fickle destiny,
    Can but watch as the vessel sails away from we,
    While idly biding…
    Like empty shells scattered on a wide, broad shore,
    Awaiting tide and waves also, to move us ever-more…”

  3. Alcibiades

    Yep, watched ’em both.

    Shorten 2 v Morrison 0.

    For Shorten to win the Sky debate, with a QLD Sky ‘undecided’ audience, against a ‘non-partisan’ Sky panel, with Speers constantly trying to cut him off, 43 v 41, 16 undecided ? Given the weighted handicap of all the former, that’s more like a 66 v 33 win … at least.

    Peta Credlin even had to credit the win … her expression was priceless. (Image)

  4. Ashleigh Rice-Quinnell

    September 27th, 1960. Nixon v Kennedy televised debate. Those who watched gave it to Jack. Those who listened (radio) gave it to Dick.
    Kennedy was relaxed, suntanned, photogenic and knew how to make the camera work for him.
    Nixon exhausted, having come to the studio directly from campaigning, had a 5 o’clock shadow, was palid and unwell. He was wearing a grey suit that blended into the background and the face cream he wore reacted to the heat from the lights. He did not look at the camera but rather towards the reporters as answered their questions.
    If you ‘watch’ the debate with your eyes closed it is a totally different event.
    That is how people should view the next Morrison v Shorten discussion/debate.

  5. Kaye Lee

    Malcolm Farr summed it up well I thought.

    About the first debate he said “The Prime Minister wanted to talk about the cost of measures; Bill Shorten got to talk about the value of them.”

    About the second, he said “The Prime Minister appeared stuck on talking to and about the bloke standing next to him.”

  6. Perkin Wattleneck

    I didn’t watch either. The tone was set when Morrison said he would be prepared to appear on the ABC. ‘Yep! Leigh Sales, me and Bill Shorten.’
    Leigh Sales. The neutral who yelled ‘yes!!!’ when the results were announced of the election in New England and Joyce bolted in.
    The hosts are always Coalition-oriented people.
    I well remember the debate in Sydney where the audience was stacked with Lib voters. When challenged, the host said that the audience was selected by random Sydney phone calls.
    One of the questioners was the son of a South Australian Liberal member of parliament, and a right winger at that.
    So what? You may say.
    Well, there is only one listed telephone number in the entire country in the questioner’s surname.
    That’s what.
    And it is in SA.
    That’s how ‘random Sydney phone numbers’
    were selected.
    We are bought and sold, as far as the main stream media is concerned. Given the clear bias of the AFP toward the coalition, and the fondness the government has for the military, if half expect a coup.
    They nearly went that far in 1975, but Lizzie Battenburg solved the problem for them before the yanks stepped in.

  7. MetaDataLata

    Australian mainstream media is mostly foreign-owned by corporations with vested interests. Any political debate organised by them will follow a narrative that steers the viewer or listener in the direction they want. Anyone wanting to really judge for themselves who will best lead their party or country would not waste their time watching a live debate. Even ABC appears to disregard their charter of balance and factual reporting so in the end, it is just independent media with a good dose of informed twitter that I follow to understand how far parties are likely to follow their advertised policies.

    Understanding which corporations have made large donations to political parties also enables me to understand how policies will ultimately be adhered to and laws will be written over the next term of governance. The two big parties have accepted the most corporate bribes so we have to take their commitment particularly in relation to climate change mitigation with a grain of salt.

  8. Kronomex

    Debates are about as much fun to watch as Chris Lilley, but the last two have shown up Scummo for what he is: obsessed with Shorten, an oafish thug and standover man who is not overly bright and wouldn’t know a policy if he fell over one…ah, wrong there…he would blame Labor for trying to set a trap to make him trip over it.

    Now I’m going back to finish watching the second part of Godrey Reggio’s Qatsi Trilogy, Powaqqatsi.

  9. Andrew J Smith

    Issue with debates or any verbal is that any old dead cat can be dropped in, and lack of deep analysis that written words allow. Further, encourages shouting and preaching…

  10. andy56

    I find the debates a little ho hum. What i do think i picked up were a few bits of policy and the body language. On Body language, Scott is really aggressive and talks a lot. He throws stupid lines out to exaggerate labor’s policy. Shorten wasnt immune from a bit of walking around a bit too. He needs to put Scott in his place everytime he interrupts, and its often. On the policy front, Scott admitted that emissions did rise, but kept going on about the paris goals. This was the moment i thought it turned against him. The truth won out.

  11. Kaye Lee

    I cannot understand the Coalition strategy of harping on about how much climate change action would cost. The question is irrelevant because the cost of not acting is far greater and most people understand that.

  12. Henry Rodrigues

    I didn’t bother watching either of the two debates and thanks heavens . I can’t stand that dickhead berating not arguing, bullying not persuading, spouting bullshit not informing. Unfortunately Bill had to be there. Instead I watched the Labor launch today and that more than made up for everything else. It was encouraging to watch and listen to Bill and his team spell out out what this election is all about.
    Bring on May 18, the baseball bats are oiled and ready to be swung.

  13. Barry Thompson.

    Just finished watching Bill Shorten address the Brisbane campaign opening. Who said he is lack lustre and can’t talk, he was brilliant.
    Sad though to see Bill Hayden looking so frail. Paul Keating also seemed to shuffle into the event. Hope he is well and that Bob Hawke lasts to see a Labor victory.
    When I commented on how much older they look, my wife suggested I take a look in the mirror! Brought me back to Earth.

  14. Alcibiades

    I cannot understand the Coalition strategy of harping on about how much climate change action would cost. The question is irrelevant because the cost of not acting is far greater and most people understand that.

    See: Diktats of, Murdoch. Same same for the relentless loaded questions on only the $ cost of action, yet silence re the cost of inaction, also from 7 & 9/Fairfax & their ABC.

  15. totaram

    If you have been paying attention for the last 6 years, you do not need to watch the “debates”. As Morrison said, who do you trust? Would you trust the coalition about anything after Tony Abbott’s “No cuts to…” and the complete turnaround within days of winning government? Of course you could go on about Julia Gillard’s “carbon tax”, but everyone, even Peta Credlin, knows it was not a tax and that she did not lie. So who are the liars? That is why Scott keeps projecting and telling us the Bill Shorten “lies”. He doesn’t tell us what the “lies” are. He just keeps repeating that Bill Shorten lies. That’s the old Goebbels trick. Sadly, even though it has been discussed at great length and talked about in many forums, it still works. That is the tragedy of the human situation. The cognitive load of processing all the bullshit that is thrown at us, particularly by a biased media empire, is too great. Ordinary people are too busy trying to make ends meet and that is just how the oligarchs would like them to be so they can befuddle and bamboozle them. Then they will vote against their own interests and voila! Democracy at work for you ( that is, working for the oligarchs). Hurrah!

  16. Jack Cade

    LThe Warringah polls are probably true, because Steggall has made it clear that she is just a Liberal with a climate change attitude. They burghers of Warringah know that they don’t have to carry the stigma of being represented by Abbott any longer. They can change MP without changing their party, really.
    The fact that debates are loaded are evidenced by Morrison’s refusal to appear on The Insiders this morning. The only way things could have been worse for Frydenberg would have been a guest appearance by Jay Weatherill. In fact, whoever it was that defaced his corflutes (and I’m more than half convinced they did it themselves.) would have really twisted the blade if they’d superimposed a pic of Jay instead of a tired old Charlie Chaplin moustache.

  17. Patagonian

    I watched both debates and it is clear Morrison is not comfortable in that milieu. I had the feeling Shorten was toying with him a bit and will wipe the floor with him if there is a third, professionally managed debate. IF there is one. It seems Morrie’s gone a bit cold on the idea.

    The stand-over tactic used by Morrison failed miserably not only because of what Shorten said, but what he did immediately before he said it. Morrison had effectively cornered Shorten toward the back of the table. When a bully corners a person, that person’s instinct is to shrink back or even back away.

    Shorten didn’t. He stood there for a while and then he moved right into the small space between him and Morrison, inches away from him, asked him if he was alright and then made his ‘Space Invader’ comment.

    It was a brilliant use of body language. I note Credlin, commenting after the debate on Shorten’s body language – cos that’s how we pick our leaders don’t you know – either didn’t pick up on that or didn’t want to mention it.

    On the baseball bats, I have finished oiling mine and it is ready.

  18. Yvonne Robertson

    Watched both including commentaries on both ABC and Sky and then again today the Labor launch which did my heart good. Who was it that said Morrison said a lot but had nothing to say? Tanya Plibersek I think. The longer this goes on, the more that fact becomes apparent. They obviously thought if they brought down a ‘budget’, they wouldn’t need to answer any questions at all – they could just say it was all there in the budget for everyone to see and concentrate on what they like doing best – sledging and lying and attacking Bill Shorten.

    The election will already be decided and probably not by those who watch debates, Q&A, launches or interviews. Anyone who still has patience with this mob of ghastly money grubbing ghouls either has too much money and little care for their planet or fellow Australians, or hasn’t been paying attention at all. It is unfortunate that there are way too many of all of the preceding yet I still think Labor will romp on home come the 18th, leaving the pundits scratching their heads about the polls yet again.

  19. totaram

    Patagonian: I have no knowledge of baseball, but I have a feeling that only cricket bats need oiling. I’m happy to be proved wrong and if oil is good for your baseball bat, all power to you.

  20. Josephus

    Thanks esp. to Meta, Kaye as always, and Totaram. I didn’t watch the debates, but rather have read policies that have appeared so far; have also listened to the excellent speakers recently outside Parliament House in support of the Climate Stop anti – Adani Rally. (There were no Labor or independent MPs present). Mr Burrugaba’s speech in particular moved me to tears. He had driven all night to be at the Rally. How the Native Title legislation has been manipulated and undermined, while dishonest Adani India used its well honed tactics to undermine the objections of the First Peoples of the region. Shame, shame on these greedy companies whose actions are condoned by callous, ignorant or cruel voters.

    Mr Tony Burke has now outlined the environmental credentials of Labor, the text including grammatical howlers but, more important, claiming that ‘Labor has always been the party of the environment.’ Certainly the Native Species Fund is welcome, if it funds reserves and employs First Nation rangers etc. Sigh of relief if NAIF is disbanded, though its enablers must be named, punished and banned from any further influence on anything. There is a Labor Fund proposed to prepare the coasts for climate change, though see below. Their new EPA may work, provided bona fide, peer reviewed experts alone are appointed, and that the body has teeth.

    However, why did a Labor government sell Darwin port to the Chinese for 99 years? Why did Labor accept Adani donations? Why has Labor not accepted the expert Reports of eg the CSIRO ? The 66m free litres of water promised is bad enough, but what of destroying springs that have ancient significance? Not to speak of Labor’s promise to permit gas fracking all over the Northern Territory, despite the anguish farmers have expressed over many years, to the extent that some have killed themselves? Here too vast quantities of water will be polluted. Madness. Would Labor please ‘come clean’ about all this before the election?

  21. Patagonian

    Boiled linseed oil is the go for baseball bats Totaram. It was a big job to oil it but I’ve done it lovingly every day for the past 6 years and I’m very much looking forward to using it.

  22. terence mills

    The numbers are now in, only 95,000 people watched the SKY pay TV debate nationally. The VERDICT on Sky after the debate attracted 28,000 less or 67,000 as viewers went off to watch the NRL or AFL games.

    So, why do the coalition persist in granting these debates to Sky and pay TV ?
    Purely to appease Rupert Murdoch !

  23. Wat Tyler

    I really don’t think anybody is listening to either side. The Coalitions last throw was the strategically timed finding of caches of weapons and the reminder that two years ago there was a plot to bring down an Aussie plane.
    Plus the word ‘communist’ was revived, presumably because the Liberal founder (even the party name was a lie), draft dodger par excellence, Menzies used it almost exclusively to win government. Paradoxically, when he won by one seat in 1961 it was communist preferences that gave the seat to Jim Killen and enabled Menzies to volunteer Aussie kids for Vietnam.

  24. Kaye Lee

    I don’t understand why the first debate was on 7TWO either. I can’t get that here so had to watch it online.

    All debates should be on the ABC.

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