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Tense confrontation between leaders in the Gr -

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Tense confrontation between leaders in the Great Debate

AM - Monday, 22 October , 2007 08:03:00

Reporter: Chris Uhlmann

TONY EASTLEY: Our chief political correspondent, Chris Uhlmann was a member of last night's panel
of journalists that each had a chance to ask questions of the two leaders.

And he joins us now. Chris, good morning, you look very smart in your suit last night. You were
there up close and personal, at once stage the moderator had to ask the audience not to barrack for
either leaders.

What was the atmosphere like in the Great Hall?

CHRIS UHLMANN: I thought it was pretty good, Tony, but I have to say the thing that I was most
aware of was the tension in the two men which was palpable and I have to say that the most obvious
changes through the course of the 90 minutes was in the demeanour of Kevin Rudd.

Now at the start it was obvious that he was quite nervous, which is only understandable, given that
this was the first time he was in this kind of situation, and he was rolling his ankles a little,
underneath the podium at which he was standing. But by the finish he almost looked like a
television host, he was looking very relaxed, he was leaning into the Prime Minister, and he looked
like he was very comfortable in the space.

TONY EASTLEY: After the debate, did you get a chance to have a bit of a chat with your fellow
panellists about the outcome?

CHRIS UHLMANN: Yes, I did. I spoke to Paul Kelly and to Laurie Oaks, and both of them has thought
that Kevin Rudd had done a good job and that they'd given the debate to him, and that seems to be
the way that most of the commentators have gone this morning.

TONY EASTLEY: And what about the Labor and Liberal camps? How did they see the whole thing going?

CHRIS UHLMANN: Well, Tony, it will astonish you to learn that both camps believe that they won.
Labor's delighted with Kevin Rudd to say that he was passionate and that he was across his brief.
They were also very pleased to that they were giving that what they believe was a very good
critique of Coalition policy for the first time.

In the Liberal camp, well they said there was only one politician of substance on the stage, and it
was obvious that it was the Prime Minister. But I have to say that I don't get the sense of
exuberance coming out of the Liberal Party camp this morning that I feel coming out of Labor.

TONY EASTLEY: Chris Uhlmann, finally there was lot of controversy over the broadcast itself. Now,
it went out, as I understand it, on the ABC and it was a very good broadcast, it also went out on
Channel Nine and also on Sky News, a pay television channel. Ten and Seven didn't take it. Now,
what was the controversy all about?

CHRIS UHLMANN: It was over Channel Nine's use of the worm, Tony. It has been agreed in the rules at
the outset and these rules were set by the Coalition that there wouldn't be a worm. Now Channel
Nine had said that it never agreed to that and went ahead and started broadcasting with the worm
and as I understand it, as I came offstage, people were saying that the broadcast had been pulled
on Channel Nine by the host broadcaster which was the ABC and the doyen of the Press Gallery,
Laurie Oakes has taken aim this morning at the National Press Club, of course, which was in charge
of this whole thing, saying, criticising that very much for rolling over in the face of Coalition
demands on how the debate should be run.

Now, I think that this argument has a lot further to run and there are real question now for the
media on how far it's prepared to go in giving in to either side. And can I say too, that
apparently there was a decision made not to show pictures of Laurie Oakes, at one stage. Now, I
know these are decisions made under a great deal of pressure, but Laurie Oakes is one of the great
journalists this nation has produced and I would hope that that's just a rumour that I'm hearing
this morning, that that decision wasn't made.

TONY EASTLEY: And that would have been a decision if it did occur, Chris, the reason being that he
was with Channel Nine and Channel Nine had somehow gone back on its deal?

CHRIS UHLMANN: I am assuming that at this stage, Tony, and it's been claimed by Channel Nine that
that was the case. I haven't seen the broadcasts and we'll have to make up our minds when we see

TONY EASTLEY: Lucky there's just one of these debates. Our chief political correspondent Chris
Uhlmann, thank you.