Monday, October 22, 2007

Alex Deane: Report from the Aussie Election Day 8


Last night’s tight debate between the Prime Minister and Kevin Rudd, and critiques thereof, dominate today’s media.

John Howard announced a new policy – a climate fund built with the funds gained from the auction of carbon permits, which will subsidise electricity bills for low income citizens. His essential message, that there is a cost to dealing with climate change and that people need to be helped to deal with those costs, is related to the fact that the best way to get people to engage with climate change is to help them to do so more easily, rather than lecturing them – an argument I’ve previously heard expressed well by Conservative blogger James Cleverly and is put really well by Crikey here.

That policy aside, the debate was a recital of a number of lines we’ve already heard – or at least, those of us who watched have heard. Debates such as these, IMHO, are watched almost solely by people who’ve made up their minds already. Certainly, most people will at least read a headline about who won or not (and, like most leaders’ debates in the modern era, this didn’t feature any knockout blows and is being spun both ways) but they don’t commit to sitting down and watching the 90 minutes of to-and-fro. I know that the heritage of such debates is very different in the USA of course, where great things supposedly turn on a candidate’s appearance, or whether he sighed or looked at his watch, but here it doesn’t receive the same focus.

There's a good poll for the Liberals in Western Australia HERE.


There is a meta-debate being conducted at the moment which threatens to drown out the debate proper. More precisely, the debate is about the “worm”, a fluctuating line appearing at the bottom of the screen that allegedly shows how the leaders are performing in the debate, based on the view of a group of people chosen by a TV station.

By agreement, the worm was not to be used in last night’s debate. Channel 9 chose to do it anyway. Their feed was briefly interrupted.

The response? Pandemonium. Accusations that the Liberal Party has been shutting down debate, free speech etc (Tim Blair gives a list of links to all the relevant coverage here). Kevin Rudd drew a parallel with the Soviet Union.

Putting aside the fact that the feed was interrupted by the National Press Club and not the government, the comparison is remarkably dumb, isn’t it? As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t know why people think that it’s ok to make references to the USSR when they wouldn’t do so about Nazi Germany. Stalin was a tyrant just as evil as Hitler – indeed, in terms of the sheer number of people he murdered, even worse.

But Rudd must have a point in the end, no? I mean, of course dissent’s being crushed in Australia – I know, because I read it in the newspapers. Of course dissent’s being crushed – the momentary interruption of transmission of a debate between the Prime Minister and his opponent on one of the TV stations showing it displays that, doesn’t it?


Anonymous said...

Huhne's blatant lie about his drugs article will surely kill his campaign - or perhaps not?

Anonymous said...

There is no such thing as "climate change". Just the normal range of fluctuations the world has been familiar with for a few million years.

Anonymous said...

Does anyone here care about the Australian election campaign?

Sea Shanty Irish said...

Care just enough to point what yer man Jimmy Olsen in Oz totally forgot to mention:

Kevin Rudd WON the debate . . . and wowed the worm.