I was interviewed on ABC Radio Mid North Coast this morning by Fiona Wyllie on this matter. I made it clear to her and the audience that an election is for everyone and not supposed to be elitist, and also that pay TV was a luxury of sorts, and that I in face used to work directly in the pay television industry. In addition, that by Howard wanting the debate to be on pay TV only is yet another example of him being out of touch with everyday Australians, some of which can't afford pay TV.
Two national television networks are busily making arrangements for a debate between the two leaders to take place this Sunday night, but whether the Labor leader, Kevin Rudd, will turn up has yet to be confirmed.
The ABC and Sky TV are preparing for a 90-minute debate between the Prime Minister, John Howard, and Mr Rudd that will be organised by the National Press Club.
The ABC is planning to broadcast the debate live on television, radio and the internet from 7.30pm, with commercial networks also expected to show it.
Although Mr Howard is keen for the encounter, Mr Rudd refuses to say whether he will be there. Mr Rudd wants three debates, including one on industrial relations, over the campaign.
"Let's be fair dinkum about this," Mr Rudd said.
"If you get to this Saturday or Sunday, at the end of the first week of a six-week campaign, will all of Mr Howard's policies be on the table? No, will all of our policies be on the table? No."
Mr Rudd also wants to establish an independent commission to set the terms of election debates. He said it was "silly and just wrong for the government of the day … to set the rules, the timing and the contents of the debate".
But Mr Howard scoffed at the idea saying it was "the bureaucrat coming out in Mr Rudd, rather than the leader".
He is unlikely to change his mind and agree to any further debates.
A letter from the federal director of the Liberal Party, Brian Loughnane, to his Labor counterpart, Tim Gartrell, put no less than 15 stipulations on the debate.
The Great Hall of Parliament House will be the venue for Sunday night's debate. A panel of five journalists will be chosen by the National Press Club.
Sky TV confirmed the political editor of its news channel, David Speers,would moderate the debate.
The Greens leader, Bob Brown, weighed in, saying there should be three debates and he, too, should participate.
"There are many issues where Labor and the Coalition have exactly the same position … The Greens are the real opposition and should be included in the debates," Senator Brown said.