Street-fighter Keating lacks punch in debate
Friday 19 February 1993
Mr Keating issued an impromptu challenge to Dr Hewson to confront him on television during a campaign walkabout. The challenge came as a surprise amid signs that the Prime Minister is deeply worried that, after less than a fortnight, his campaign for the 13 March election is in trouble.
An opinion poll published on Tuesday in The Australian, a national daily newspaper, for the first time pointed to a convincing lead by the opposition conservative Liberal-National coalition. It gave the opposition 53.5 per cent of voter preference against 46.5 per cent for the government, and was translated into a possible 31-seat majority for the coalition in parliament.
Mr Hewson was nominated as the preferred prime minister by 42 per cent of respondents, against 37 per cent for Mr Keating with 21 per cent still undecided. On the question of who voters thought would win the election, the margin was wider: 50 per cent for the opposition against 29 per cent for Labor.
With more than three weeks of campaigning to go, however, it is still too early to write Labor off. Another poll published on Wednesday in The Sydney Morning Herald indicated Mr Keating was still in the race when it suggested Labor was holding its ground in key marginal seats in Sydney and Melbourne.
Mr Keating is fighting to win his first election as Prime Minister, after ousting Bob Hawke as Labor leader, and to return Labor to an unprecedented fifth term after 10 years in power.
His campaign began falteringly on Sunday during a formal debate with Mr Hewson on Australian Broadcasting Corporation television. Both leaders were nervous, Mr Keating assuming the funereal tones of an undertaker and Mr Hewson appearing stilted as they fielded questions on the economy from journalists. The press generally awarded victory to Mr Hewson only by default.
Last night's unscheduled debate, aired in prime time by a commercial network, was not so constrained. Mr Keating's advisers had told him to ditch formality and return to his street-fighting mode, at which he excels. He obliged them last night, but the debate is unlikely to have enlightened viewers. It focused almost entirely on the centrepiece of Mr Hewson's policies, a VAT-type goods and services tax (GST) of 15 per cent.
Mr Keating attacked it as a 'monster' and 'the biggest life-style changing tax in Australian history'. He called Mr Hewson 'dear boy', while Mr Hewson described him as 'this fellow'. Despite his attempt to seize back the initiative through the debate, Mr Keating always looked on the defensive while Mr Hewson managed to relax and keep cool.
The campaign seems likely to be fought almost entirely on television, with at least one more debate scheduled and a series of aggressive advertisements launched by both parties on Wednesday.
- 1 Snoop Dogg and Jared Leto buy a stake in Reddit as A-list invests $50m
- 2 Prince held a Facebook Q&A and this is the only question he answered
- 3 Car tax disc changes: Two days to go - and they affect you much more than just not displaying a piece of paper
- 4 Now we know whose fault it is if you end up being murdered in Thailand
- 5 35,000 walrus gather ashore on north-west Alaska beach 'for a rest'
Exclusive: 'Putin's Russia has been my biggest regret,' says Nato's outgoing Secretary General
The Osborne Ultimatum: Chancellor’s benefits freeze bombshell will affect ten million households
There’s no excuse for Dave Lee Travis’s behaviour, but we need to keep a sense of proportion
Should gay sex be illegal? 16% of Britons think so
Mark Reckless becomes second Tory MP to defect to Ukip in a month
Benefits 'smart cards' plan revealed by Iain Duncan Smith to stop claimants spending welfare money on alcohol
- < Previous
- Next >
£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped OTE: SThree: SThree Group have been well ...
£18000 - £23000 per annum + OTE: SThree: Real Staffing Group is seeking Traine...
£120 - £140 per day: Randstad Education Leeds: We have an exciting opportunity...
Competitive: Randstad Education Manchester: SEN Teacher urgently required for ...