What if they held a debate and nobody came? That was the tone on Sunday night at the Not-So-Great Debate between the ranga and the mad monk, which ended up as a whole hour of boring platitudes and talking points and the occasional dog whistle, with no interaction between the debaters and no new content whatsoever. The only highlight was when the mad monk pledged to cut immigration to 175,000 per year from its current level of… erm… 175,000 per year.
In a totally unexpected development, even with that mis-step, the News Limited papers are touting it as a stunning victory for the monk.
The debate didn’t even win the ratings for Sunday night – that honour went to the final episode of MasterChef, which stole the title of highest-rated non-sports show ever on Australian TV. Some three million people watched the debate (simulcast across three channels), but five-and-a-half million – one Australian in four – watched an Adelaide lawyer win $100,000 and eternal fame as “that bloke from the cooking show”.
So now we’re into the second week, and please oh god please let it be more interesting than the first week. There’s been no substantial policy announcements. No talk about the economy. Enough “moving forward” and “great big new tax” to drive everyone up the wall. And a few vague noises about reducing immigration in the guise of “stopping the boats”, because god forbid Australia should become more vibrant and multicultural and interesting (and this coming from people who probably don’t think twice about going out on a Friday for Thai or Italian or sushi).
Labor’s still leading in the polls by four to eight points on a two-party-preferred basis, enough for a slightly increased majority; the betting markets still have Labor a 75-25 favourite (drifting in to 70-30 this morning); and in the preferred prime minister stakes it’s still Gillard first, daylight second.
Wake me when it’s over.