When shall we ever learn? The emphasis on style over substance during the first federal election debate of 2013 between Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was always going to be served up to the voters. Hardly surprising given the debate's short-course rigid format and sub-standard questioning from the moderator and his panel of experts. Then of course was the obstacle of two very well rehearsed political combatants who were more worried about not making a mistake than defeating their opponent. This did not augur well for a free flowing exchange of points of view, and so it proved. Just what the voting public is meant to get out of what amounted to yet another earful of spin, sloganeering and motherhood statements is anyone's guess.
If there was a winner of the debate no one of any reliable objectivity has said so with any conviction. Of course the cheer squads on either side will say their man won - naturally that includes News Corp Australia and their boy, Tony Abbott. But according to the poll worm conducted by channels 9 and 10, Kevin Rudd came out on top. To confound this, Channel 7's populist worm gave it to Tony Abbott. In truth no one won, and no won ever really does in such a manufactured environment. Until both men face each other in a less controlled and more open-slather setting then nothing can be gained from these debates. To this end the ideal debating environment would be on Q & A with moderator Tony Jones getting out of the way as much as possible to allow the audience to ask the questions and the leaders to respond to them and each other directly. Then perhaps we might get an insight into who can be trusted ... or should that be distrusted the least.