I didn’t watch the leader’s ‘debate’, as I was on a plane flying to Cairns at the time. However, I doubt I would have watched it anyway. The Prime Minister is obviously happy to have a debate when he sets the rules and the nature of the audience, and only allows questions from political journalists. That’s his choice of course, but it doesn’t make for anything very interesting or enlightening as far as I’m concerned.
I have attended over ten public debates and candidate forums in the last few weeks, and only two of them have had a Liberal attending, and I get a similar story from many other candidates around Queensland. It appears there is less interest in turning up to something outside of a stage managed environment, which I think is a pity. I often find these events a useful way to find out what other people think, and to get a better feel for other candidates’ views, abilities and interests. For example, I am far more confident in Wayne Swan’s interest in and understanding of climate change issues after hearing and watching him answer a few questions at a public climate change forum recently, than I have been from hearing his responses and comments in many media interviews over a long time.
There are many real debates and discussions happening around the country every night throughout this election period. They might not have the ‘star power’ of the Prime Ministerial contenders, but they also are more direct and unvarnished.. This will also often make them less entertaining (although as I suggested at the start of this post, stage-managed media debates usually leave me pretty cold), but if you’re wanting something authentic, I suggest getting along to one in your area. Who knows, you might even get a chance to ask a question directly, rather than hope a journalist asks it for you.