Australian election: Sparks expected in Rudd-Abbott debate

A man walks behind a newspaper ad picturing Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd (L) and opposition leader Tony Abbott in Sydney on 5 August 2013 Image copyright Reuters

So my first election debate in Australia and I am hoping it is going to be a feisty one. Politics here can be pretty combative and plain-speaking, so I may get my wish.

It is being held at the National Press Club in Canberra and is due to last an hour, with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and opposition leader Tony Abbott facing questions from a panel of journalists.

The TV schedulers have cleverly put it on at tea time (18:30 AEST, 08:30 GMT) and avoided a clash with the Ashes cricket against England, which might have left viewers with a difficult (or perhaps not so difficult choice) as they grasped the remote control.

As with all such debates, both men will be trying to avoid a gaffe or slip up that could torpedo a campaign.

Ahead in the polls but seen by commentators as a less accomplished debater, the conservative opposition leader Tony Abbot has perhaps more to lose. Much will depend on the media spin that the two men's advisers manage to whip up afterwards.

Despite the issue of asylum seekers getting a lot of play in the media, polls show that the economy is by far the most important issue for voters and, as such, is likely to dominate the debate.

It is just two months since Kevin Rudd emerged as prime minister for the second time after ousting his Labor colleague and rival Julia Gillard. Now he is in charge, the race is much closer, but Mr Rudd is still portraying himself as the underdog.

Will that be the case in a few hours' time? I will be interested to read your comments later as to who came out on top.

Tony Abbot has mercifully spared us the "budgie smugglers" in this campaign, but limbered up for the debate on Sunday morning by donning some more modest lycra to take part in the City2Surf road race.

On a side note, this "election bingo" from the Guardian is well worth a look and might liven up viewing.

"Fair shake of the sauce bottle" is my own personal favourite that I will be listening out for.