Election 2022: Third leaders’ debate offered more decorum and less shouting

By Tom Ravlic

Thursday May 12, 2022

More stately behaviour last night from Albanese and Morrison.(AAP Image/Lukas Coch, Mick Tsikas)


Australian voters who were left dismayed by the shouting spectacle of a few days ago should be relieved the country saw the return of something resembling stately behaviour last night from two men running to occupy the top political office in the land.

Prime minister Scott Morrison and opposition leader Anthony Albanese fronted the studios of Channel Seven for the third and final agreed clash of the campaign.

A different format, with one moderator, Mark Riley, standing at a desk in between the two leaders meant there was a clear sense of authority on the debating floor.

This also meant the tone of the discourse between the two men was inevitably going to be less pugilistic, more orderly, and, mercifully for those watching the broadcast, listenable.

The second debate, which aired last Sunday, had moderator Sarah Abo positioned outside the line of sight of the two leaders. Keeping the two debaters in order was always going to be impossible in that setting.

One point of tension during this final debate, hosted by the Seven Network on Wednesday evening, was the discourse about the increase in wages.

Albanese stated an increase that in reality represented the cost of two coffees a day for people on the minimum wage was not going to break the economy.

Morrison’s argument was that too-high-a wage increase at the present time was more likely to cause grief for small businesses. It would also place a focus on the part of workers as to whether they are actually able to maintain a job rather than whether the salary they get from the job will be increased.

Expect this debate to be amplified over the remaining days of the election campaign as both leaders try to appeal not only to their traditional voter base but also to those who remain undecided.

The first debate, hosted by Sky News, was narrowly won by Albanese, with the 100 undecided voters in the audience observing the two men giving Albanese 40% of the vote, Morrison a score of 35%, and the balance remaining undecided.

There were 160 undecided voters situated in pubs in marginal electorates across the country, watching the third debate that gave Albanese a victory by a much clearer margin.

Albanese snaffled 50% of the undecided voter audience, with Morrison nabbing the approval of 34%. There was 16% remaining undecided.

The country will find out within a few days whether these litmus tests of debate viewers reflect in any meaningful way what happens at the ballot box.


Election 2022: Decorum of leaders’ debate sees call for commission

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