Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott. Vicki Wood

ABC's Twitterverse gives Rudd debate win with peak on gays

AUSTRALIANS sent more than 75,000 tweets during Sunday night's leaders' debate between Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.

The social networking service tracked 31 debate-related keywords and found the hottest topics in debate-related tweets were: energy and climate; the economy; and immigration.

Tweets hit a peak of 1,952 per minute at 7:25pm AEST, when Mr Abbott was discussing same-sex marriage.

The next-highest peaks were 1,517 tweets per minute during discussion of the budget and the National Broadband Network, followed by 1,488 tweets per minute during debate about asylum seekers.

The ABC conducted an experimental Twitter tug-o-war during the leaders' debate, asking people to vote for who they thought was winning using the hashtags #DebateRudd and #DebateAbbott.

More than 500 responses were received; half an hour after the debate ended 72 per cent of respondents said Mr Rudd had won, compared to 28 per cent for Mr Abbott.

More on this at ABC News

Tweets during the election debate on Sunday night between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott.
Tweets during the election debate on Sunday night between Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott.

'Care-factor' low for first election debate as reality TV show ratings rank high

ALMOST 1.5 million people in Australia's capital cities tuned in to watch Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott battle wits in the first leaders' debate of the election campaign.

The figure was significantly less than the combined audience of X Factor (Seven) and Australia's Got Talent (Nine), which dominated the Sunday night ratings with 1.31 million and 1.04 million viewers respectively.

ABC1, the only primary channel to carry the hour-long debate, attracted the most viewers with 708,000.

The national broadcaster pulled in a further 198,000 viewers on its 24-hour news channel.

Nine and Seven chose to screen the debate on their secondary channels - with GEM (Nine) attracting 233,000 people and 7TWO slightly less on 228,000.

Just 108,000 people looked to Ten's ONE for their debate fix.

Figures from the regional broadcasters and Sky News were still to be released.

Those who did tune in were treated to a dull contest as neither leader strayed too far from their respective scripts.

In fact the issue of a "script" was perhaps the biggest story to arise from the debate.

The Coalition was quick to label Mr Rudd a cheat over his use of notes, an act forbidden by the rules set down for the debate.

Speaking to reporters in Sydney on Monday Mr Rudd said he had not knowingly breached the rules, suggesting his staff had failed to brief him.

"I seem to remember when I debated Mr Howard in 2007 I had notes with me then," said Mr Rudd, who cheekily opened his press conference by declaring he had notes in his hand.

"I think most times I stand before you folks I carry notes with me. There's a reason for that - I prefer to be as accurate as I can.

"Now the other thing is there's a limit to how much you can scribble down on the palm of your hand. There's a limit to how many of Mr Abbott's three-word slogans you can actually get there to remember them all."

Mr Abbott would not be drawn on "notegate", other than to ridicule Mr Rudd's performance.

"The problem was not that he was reading from notes, it was more that the notes were not worth reading," Mr Abbott said in Melbourne.