Media Summary: Morrison v Shorten in Perth for first campaign debate

• Commentary and reports on the first Leaders’ Debate

A summary of some of the commentary and reports on the first Leaders’ Debate organised by Seven Perth and The West Australian.

Bill Shorten wins first election debate against Scott Morrison

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has won the popular vote in the first leaders’ debate of the federal election campaign after using his closing remarks to tell Australians the economy was not working for them, reports The Sydney Morning Herald’s David Crowe.

While 25 audience members declared Shorten the winner, only 12 voted for Morrison and another 11 were undecided.

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No knockout, but Shorten wins audience in first debate

Sid Maher in The Australian:

Neither leader landed a knockout blow in an hour-long exchange which saw Shorten laugh and smirk at Morrison as he attacked Labor’s franking credits policy over its impact on self-managed super funds held by retirees. Morrison appeared nervous as he pressed the Opposition Leader to answer questions on the cost of key Labor policies.

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Leaders debate: Plenty of glitz but TV drama it wasn’t

Caroline Overington in The Australian:

Each leader got a three-minute opening address. Bill’s was better. Sorry, but it was. But Morrison landed the first punch with his perennial question for Shorten: “Tell us the cost of your climate change policy. Australians deserve to know.”

Shorten didn’t answer. He never does. He smirks instead, and I’m not sure that’s good enough.

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Scott Morrison and Bill Shorten’s leadership debate predictable

The Daily Telegraph editorial:

Just in case you missed it – and many would have done, since it was broadcast on 7TWO, the network’s less-watched station – Monday night’s leadership debate was an odd affair.

A two-camera format gave us permanent smiles or smirks from Prime Minister Scott Morrison or Labor’s Bill Shorten, depending on who wasn’t speaking at the time.

Only a couple of audience members were invited to ask their questions, so Australia heard from Ray and Corey.

And then there was the often-sudden involvement of Perth sports presenter Basil Zempilas. At some points he seemed to appear out of nowhere, then just as quickly vanished.

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Bill Shorten lands first blow in election debate

A panel of five News Corp political journalists give their verdict on the debate winner. Four of the five chose Bill Shorten.

Jenna Clarke in The West Australian:

Armed with his trademark zingers that had more flavour than those KFC burgers, Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was declared the winner of the first leaders debate of this election campaign.

Of the 48 people in the audience for WA’s first ever federal leaders’ debate, 25 deemed Shorten as the winner. Twelve thought Scott Morrison won while 11 were still undecided.

It could have gone a lot worse for Shorten though, joined by his wife Chloe, who arrived with just three minutes to spare.

Shorten, who abandoned a trademark red tie for the occasion, opting instead for a dark neck accoutrement with a gold diamond pattern, also got a laugh when the pair were informed about the 110,000 people that had already voted since pre-polling opened on Monday.

When asked why he thought Australians had voted three weeks out from the official polling day, Shorten said:

“Because people want to change the government.”

And with that mic drop, the audience were sold… As was the internet.

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ABC political editor Andrew Probyn:

If anything, the first debate affirms that the 2019 election is a conflict between a big target who argues the virtue of new direction and a small target arguing the dangers of swerving from the current path.

The debate was consigned to a television backwater, otherwise known as 7TWO, with coverage sandwiched between Bargain Hunt (moustachioed BBC host Tim Wonnacott in a fetching mustard two-piece) and the umpteenth re-run of Vicar of Dibley.

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Photo: The West Australian

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