JONATHAN NOONE and PHILLIP HARSANT
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott squared off in their second debate of the election campaign in a town-forum-style debate at Broncos League Club Wednesday night.
The two men were engaged with the audience and each other throughout the discussion, with the Prime Minister approaching Mr Abbott at one point on the topic of the Opposition’s Paid Parental Leave scheme.
Mr Rudd attacked the Opposition Leader on the funding of the scheme, in which Mr Abbott responded, “Does this guy ever shut up?”
It was a sign of raw emotion that has so far been absent to this point of the campaign.
The topic of the Paid Parental Scheme was perhaps the most notable discussion of the night as Mr Abbott explained the independent Parliamentary Budget Office had confirmed the scheme was fully funded.
Mr Abbott said the scheme would be paid for partially by Labor’s existing scheme plus a levy on big business and bristled at the suggestion by his opponent that the figures did not add up.
Mr Rudd said he was concerned that only 50 per cent of the scheme’s funding had been accounted for.
“We regard (the Paid Parental Scheme) as unfair and unaffordable,” he said.
The Prime Minister was more active throughout the debate focussing on his party’s intention to “build for the future” investing in the sectors of Industry, Education, Health and National Broadband Network.
Mr Abbott was more collective in his answers, pointing to the failures of the Labor Government since 2007 compared with the success of the previous Liberal Government’s policies on refugees and budget management.
Nearly a third of the 105 swinging voters in attendance remained undecided at the end of the debate, with those who did not abstain awarding the debate to Mr Abbott 37-35.