Tuesday, 10 August 2010

News today in the media that Julia Gillard's one-woman show as star of the ABC's Q and A hit the screens of over 840,000 viewers. That's small beer compared to reality TV show Masterchef but it's nothing to laugh at in the political stakes.

The showing of the PM in this forum put the traditional televised pollie-on-pollie debate format in the shade. Instead of over-controlled message management as the two politicians face off you get a town-hall style encounter with individual audience members getting answers to their questions. And Tony Jones' mediation plays a vital role by ensuring the politician stays on topic rather than on message.

Gillard talked freely and openly as she answered questions put by a range of people. Jones told us at the show's opening that attendees had been vetted so that there was a balance between those with views on the Right and others with views on the Left.

It was a controlled and genuine performance totally at odds with her performance at the leader's debate a couple of weeks ago, although she seemed to have nailed that one too. But this time the aggro was absent, the topics were broadly canvassed, and the applause rang out inside the small Adelaide auditorium.

Next week, Tony Abbott gets his turn. By then we'll be less than a week away from election day (21 August). It seems unlikely that there will be another leader's debate before that time. But who cares if there isn't? Let the people have their say. It makes for great television.

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