Australian election debate moved to avoid clash with cookery show

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Julia Gillard, of the Australian Labor Party. Image: Adam Carr.

A televised debate between Australia’s candidates for Prime Minister in the upcoming election has been rescheduled and shortened — to avoid a clash with popular cookery show MasterChef.

The pre-election debate traditionally lasts 90 minutes and occurs at 1930 on the first Sunday of the campaign.

With the grand finale of the cooking competition already scheduled for that time, and expected to attract around four million viewers, the decision has been made to move the debate forward to 1830 and shorten it to 60 minutes.

When asked about MasterChef, Prime Minister Julia Gillard replied: “I can understand the fascination with cooking and eating, so I know many Australians will watch that show. But I think Australians still pay some regard to the debate and the election campaign.”

The debate between Gillard and her Liberal/National Coalition primary opponent Tony Abbott has already been the subject of controversy. Former PM Kevin Rudd had committed to holding three debates before the election. Gillard insisted she only wanted one.

Australian Greens leader Bob Brown had also wished to be part of the debate, but joked that he probably had more chance of appearing on MasterChef.

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