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2020, May, 5 publication

Election Debates

Do they have a future in Australian election campaigns?

Leaders debates have been a feature of every federal election campaign since 1990. But whether they will continue to occupy a privileged position in the Australian electoral landscape is unclear. With my colleague Professor Rodney Smith, I reviewed the Australian debate experience as part of an international study of the debate phenomenon, published by Routledge. We argue that, debates will only occur in the Australian context when, in each election contest, participation suits the strategic calculation of an impermanent cast of leaders and campaign officials within each of the two major parties and, further, when a broadcast partner is attracted by the debates’ news value or commercial ratings. This might not be a formula for a sustainable future.

Stephen Mills