Rudd vs Abbott people’s forum: experts respond

Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have faced off in a second debate - this time, a ‘people’s forum’ in front of 100 undecided voters.  | AAP/Lukas Coch

Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have faced off in a second debate – this time, a ‘people’s forum’ in front of 100 undecided voters. | AAP/Lukas Coch

Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott have met in a “town hall” style leaders’ debate at the Broncos Leagues Club in Brisbane.

Abbott and Rudd took questions from an audience of 100 undecided voters on issues from public service cuts, industrial relations, the environment and asylum seekers.

In his closing statements, Rudd pointed to Queensland state premier Campbell Newman breaking his promise not to cut public service jobs, as a harbinger of what would face Australia if an Abbott government were elected.

Abbott asked the audience – and watching voters – if they felt Australia could afford another three years of ALP government, claiming to have been a “competent and trustworthy” senior minister in a “competent and trustworthy” Howard government.

It is expected there will be one more encounter between the leaders in a public forum before the September 7 election.

The Conversation had a panel of experts watching and analysing the forum. Their responses follow.


Sean Rintel, Lecturer in Strategic Communication at University of Queensland

As Kevin Rudd responded to a follow-up during the debate, a frustrated Tony Abbott asked: “does this guy ever shut up?”

The #auspol and #ausvotes Twitter users reacted in interesting manners. At first, in a somewhat unusual fashion, many Twitter users treated this a breach of respect towards Kevin Rudd and “conduct unbecoming” of a potential PM to be. For example:

@es_awesome: “Abbott told the PM to shut up? Does he have any sense of propriety?”

@clare1mb: “The real @TonyAbbottMHR emerges…”

@TheAviator1992: “Abbott “Does this guy never shut up!” WHAT A DISGRACE!!!”

In response, Abbott supporters attempted to turn the reason for Abbott’s comment into a problem for Rudd. For example:

@kaylenegerster: “No I will not shut up folks. I will waffle on with BS as long as I want @KRuddMP”

But then the concept of Abbott telling famous people to shut up began to be the focus of snarky comment. For example:

@peterjhinton: “Abbott meeting Chancellor Angela Merkel “does this sheila ever shut up?! laughs

Other famous figures included the Dalai Lama, Barack Obama, and Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Finally, Twitter users started to retweet the ABC’s video moment in which Kevin Rudd retorted to “shut up” that such a response was “standard debating technique”. So, in terms of “duelling memes”, it would appear that Rudd won the day in the first people’s forum.

The Conversation

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