The verdict

Verdicts on the debate in today’s papers divide neatly along organisational lines, with News Limited observers saying it was close and Fairfax giving a clear win to Rudd. The commentator who comes closest to calling it for Howard is Sid Marris: speaking with colleague Dennis Shanahan on a video at The Australian’s website, he judges that “John Howard was stronger, but Kevin Rudd didn’t suffer a loss”. Shanahan decries the “Rudd-centric” worm, and says only that the Opposition Leader “won because he didn’t lose”. Also on the video are Paul Kelly, who says Howard was “very much on top at the start but I think Rudd finished better”, and Sky News man-of-the-hour David Speers who gives the debate to Rudd “on points”. In the newspaper itself, Matthew Franklin gives Kevin Rudd a “narrow victory” in the face of a “well above par” performance by the Prime Minister. Doug Conway of the Courier-Mail calls it a draw, offering the wearily familiar assessment that “neither Mr Howard nor Mr Rudd made a disastrous blunder, nor did they land a lethal body blow on their opponent”. Only Mark Kenny of The Advertiser breaks ranks, saying Rudd “unquestionably had the better of it”, while echoing the customary caution that “the longer term political significance is unlikely to be great”.

By contrast, the headline in The Age tells us of “Rudd’s decisive win”. Michelle Grattan declares Rudd “the clear winner”, “sounding confident and convincing against an opponent whose energy flagged and temper flared”, while Tony Wright rates it “Rudd’s night on most fronts”. Similarly, the Sydney Morning Herald’s Peter Hartcher reckons Rudd the “clear winner”, and says he has “cemented his claim as frontrunner”. The assessment of the Canberra Times is that Rudd won “because he didn’t debate. He had a plan to sell and he came, he saw and he sold”. In the other non-News Limited paper available to hand, The West Australian, a report by Chris Johnson and Shane Wright talks of Rudd “clearly getting the better of the Prime Minister”. Political editor Andrew Probyn also gives it to Rudd, saying the Prime Minister was “on the back foot … over WorkChoices, climate change, leadership and interest rates”.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

834 comments on “The verdict”

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  1. The Senator has given “Glen” a special project. His job is to try and uncover the “small business” background of Labor’s frontbench. Apparently it involves checking on ASIC returns and trying to discover what some of these microbusinesses allegedly did.

  2. Glen’s mum rang again.

    Apparently Glen was on the phone to grandpa and is even more fretful because grandpa said he was worried, something about worms.

    Glen knows what a horrid experience that can be.

  3. Bit surprised (and nervous) that we haven’t had any Newspoll leakage.

    If I’m this toey re. a bloody poll, what will I be like on 24/11?

  4. Oakeshott,

    If you are still there, I will “out” myself on November 25th if the Liberals are re-elected.

    On former Liberal leaders – I dont think a history of ruthlessness in politics is a bad thing. I personally subscribe to the S.P.E.C.T.R.E approach, failure should not be tolerated.

    Look at Labor, how many failures keep getting second and third goes. Sharryn Jackson in WA may very well cost Labor an election on her what third go, Medicare Gold, Swan with the “unreal” $600 etc etc

  5. ESTJ – pity the Senator didn’t send someone to look at the microbusiness records of the wannabe candidate for Cook, Mr Towke.

  6. Kevin Rudd 2 x 5 shillings and sixpence is 11 shillings. Take this away from a pound means there is 9 shillings change. Took it home and gave it to his mum.

    Peter Costello bought yesterday’s bread at a discounted rate and decided to put the money into a future bread fund. On the way home met up with mate John Howard who promised to share his jar of Vegemite if Peter shared the bread. While Peter was smirking about the good deal, John stole the bread and left Peter with a jar of not-Vegemite. Peter said it was all Kevin Rudd’s fault that his family has no bread.

    Bob Hawke took the one pound, punted it on an all up at Flemington which duly saluted and paid 150,000 pound. Took 50,000 for himself and bought his mum a bread shop franchise.

  7. Yes, I have constant nightmares. Its as if a vindictive little man is destroying my country, its been recurring for over 11 years

  8. Beazley and Whitlam were rivals in the early 60s as possible heirs to Calwell, and they never got on very well. Kim sr was a bit too evangelical for Gough’s secular-humanist tastes.

  9. My theory on Newspoll (why not, everyone else has had a go):

    54-46. Not much of a story, which is why it hasn’t been leaked.

  10. [I dont think a history of ruthlessness in politics is a bad thing. I personally subscribe to the S.P.E.C.T.R.E approach, failure should not be tolerated.]

    ESJ – I think you will find the Australian voters are about to adopt your philosophy in the case of the Howard Liberals. I trust you are correct in your thinking.

  11. Same old, same old. I want to hear from the other parties. A party prepared to spend on spend on services and environment instead of buying votes with tax cuts.

  12. Dead right Mark, should have been sevenpence. I never bought bread, the baker used to deliver it up the side passage into the ‘servery’ in the wall, from a basket covered with a teatowel. The street wasn’t paved, and the baker had a horse and cart. (1958, that was). 5/6 should have been a shirt. Principle the same, if you get my meaning. JWH went to a selective school (Canterbury Boys’ High) but he wasn’t one of the selective stream, it was his local high school. Sydney Boys’ High, North Sydney Boys’ High and James Ruse Agricultural High were the only fully selective boys’ schools then. Howard got 2 A’s and 3 B’s at the Leaving, and failed General Maths. His Mum paid his way into Uni and he took six years to get through a four year Law degree. He had a short stint at a a big city law firm, failed to ‘cut the mustard’ and ended up doing conveyancing and magistrate’s court matters at a Hurstville solicitor’s, while living at home with Mum, until he got married to Hyacinth, at 32. A perfect training to be Australia’s worst Prime Minister.


    Alan H

  13. #
    Econocrat Says:
    October 22nd, 2007 at 9:25 pm

    LAteline in Tas says Newspoll has, like the worm, turned!! More soon!

    in the same direction as the worm????

  14. Greensborough Growler 807

    The non vegemite was probably Aussie Mite. Or not. Interestingly, manufactured in the electorate of Mayo.

  15. #789
    Marky Marky says Says:
    October 22nd, 2007 at 8:55 pm

    S… Nuclear power is not an option for this country at all and should not even be considered..
    It is expensive, opens you up to being a terrorist target and finally what do you do with the waste…
    Don’t even think about it…

    Amen to that.

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