The Brisbane debate held on Wednesday, Aug 21, revealed a talkative Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and a touchy Tony Abbott as they banter against each other over each other's political records, budget cuts, parental leaves, quality of candidates, asylum seeker policy and environmental issues.
As Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott engaged in a heated debate, the voters watching were rather deadpan.
Both Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott showed that they were restless and panicky fifteen days before the September 7 election, that they must have taken their feeling of anxiety against each other.
The Heated Debate:
Mr Rudd: "Mr Abbott seems to be suffering from just a little bit of amnesia. When he was health minister he cut $1 billion from the public hospitals budget of Australia. I think we need a few answers, because you're way ahead in the polls, you're likely to be elected prime minister if there was an election today, and I think people have a right to know where the cuts are going to fall?"
Mr Abbott: "Let's not please say that I'm somehow Mr Cut, Cut, Cut because I want to be Mr Build, Build, Build so we have more jobs, jobs, jobs. Mr Rudd, can I please ask you to stop telling fibs. I did not cut $1 billion out of public hospital funding. I did not. If we're going to have a good discussion let's try to base it on fact."
Mr Rudd: "Mr Abbott just compared in his remarks the social reform which underpinned the establishment of the age pension with this particular proposal of his for paid parental leave which allocates up to $75,000 for six months for a person on $150,000 a year."
Mr Abbott: ''Does this guy ever shut up?!''
And the debate climaxed at this point. Mr Rudd took this statement as a standard response from someone who was already losing an argument.
Mr Abbott tried to recover from his feisty statement through assuring voters that if he won the election, the Howard's Government's WorkChoices will be entirely off the table.
''I was one of two cabinet ministers who opposed it. That particular policy is, to use the famous phrase, dead, buried and cremated. It is never going to happen, we are not going to go back to the past. We learnt our lesson. We lost an election on it and the last thing sensible political parties do is go back to policies that cause them to lose elections," Mr Abbott explained.
The polling done after the debate revealed that from the 105 voters who watched the debate, 37 voted for Mr Abbott while only 35 voted for Mr Rudd. However, there were 33 people who were left undecided on who to vote between the two rivals.
''Does this guy ever shut up?!''
Mr Rudd maintained his composure after the debate even if he lost the poll.
''It's all good for democracy, that's what I say," Mr Rudd told reporters.
As for his wife Therese Rein who came with him, she will "always be impressed with Kevin."
On the other hand, Mr Abbott seemed a little defensive when asked about his feisty comment on Mr Rudd.
''Well, look, I think [Mr Rudd] set out to be pretty feisty tonight. I think he set out to try be a little bit confrontational. He was certainly doing plenty of talking. I guess that's his way," Mr Abbott said.
But as for who really won the debate this time around, Mr Abbott played it safe and modest.
''I'm not going to presume to make that judgment I'll leave the public and voters to decide who they thought did better tonight,'' Mr Abbott told the reporters.
Meanwhile, Labor Senator Penny Wong thinks that Mr Abbott lost his temper during the debate.
In an interview with ABC Radio on Thursday Morning, Ms Wong said that the Finance Minister said that Mr Abbott was "pretty agro type of bloke."
''It was interesting for a moment to see him snap and see the real Tony Abbott,'' Ms Wong said.
After the debate, 100 voters from the audience had their time to ask Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott. According to Galaxy pollster David Briggs, those 100 voters who had the opportunity to ask were hand-picked from 1,500 interviews held during election surveys.
Majority of the audience felt that the two debaters avoided answering pertinent questions which had them undecided on who to vote for.
"I thought it was interesting but I thought Kevin Rudd avoided answering a few things. And Abbott didn't fess up on where the cuts would be.I'm still undecided," Paul Williams, 22, told News.com.au
"I was looking forward to the debate ... (But) some questions were really avoided. I didn't really feel they connected with the people," Josh Look, 20, also said in an interview.