Sky News is pushing for a "People's Forum" debate between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott at the Brisbane Broncos Leagues Club next week, where the audience gets to ask questions.
Prime Minister Rudd wants four debates with the Opposition Leader, one each on Channel 7, 9, 10 and the ABC, but he wants them on his terms. Instead of questions coming from a live audience in the clubs, he would prefer the debate on free to air channels to include the provision for voters to ask questions via Facebook and Twitter. He is also keen to debate Tony Abbott on the ABC's popular programme Q and A.
Last week's first debate at the National Press Club in Canberra was a boring non event and wasn't even a debate at all, just two men being polite and spuiking their own agendas. Sky News moderator David Speers revealed Mr Rudd breached the rules by reading from notes. Tony Abbott didn't have any notes. According to the rules issued by the National Press Club, "the leaders may have a pen and paper on the lectern and no other documentation or props." The PM said he was unaware of the rule.
Fox came up with the idea of two debates in the heartland of the working classes - the famous Broncos Leagues Club in Brisbane and Rooty Hill RSL in Sydney.
The Bronco's People's Forum is set for August 21, but so far Mr Rudd hasn't agreed to attend. And he has a valid excuse. "Free to air television is available to everyone, Sky is not because it's on pay TV" he said. And he's right, there's a big difference, not everyone has cable, but Sky said they would make the broadcast available to all commercial channels and allow the ABC to televise at the same time.
The Opposition Leader seems to be holding all the cards at the moment, and says he will be at the Broncos next Wednesday. If Mr Rudd doesn't show, it could be perceived as a sign of surrender.
Edit August 19, 2013: Kevin Rudd has agreed to the debate Tony Abbott at the Brisbane Broncos this coming Wednesday, 21st August.