A new chapter begins…

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It’s an interesting night in The House tonight…

Tomorrow I embark on a new adventure – back into the workforce as a salaried employee.

It will be the first time that I’ve “done the Dolly” for someone else since August 2008 – having freelanced since the company I worked for drifted into liquidation.

Whilst the freelance lifestyle has been excellent, the last 12 months have been a real challenge as the full effect of the Global Financial Crisis hit Australia, in particularly Queensland (despite our Government’s assurances that all is OK).

And so it is that I have (finally) landed in full time employment after months of trying and – to be honest – there’s a degree of trepidation, but also excitement about the challenges ahead.

Once again, I have to prove myself to those that matter – but it will be great to be back in the game after a difficult year both business wise and in my personal life.

Am I doing the right thing? Is this the right opportunity for me? Where is it going long term? They are all questions I’m asking myself right now.

There’s only one way to know – and that’s to get stuck into it and see where it goes.

So tomorrow, we turn the page on a new chapter and see where the adventure may take us…wish me luck!

The Oprah Effect…and TEN’s own goal

Great to see Oprah supporting the right team!

Although she’s only been here a week, it feels like the Big O has been in Auu-straaayy-llya for a month, such has been the media circus that has followed the talk show queen.

To say it hasn’t been worth the $3-5 million it cost Tourism Australia  to   bring Oprah and 502 of her closest friends (including production staff) to the land downunder would be downright irresponsible.

It’s the House’s view that the visit has done as much for domestic tourism as what it will do to attract internationals to Australia:

  • There will be people in Perth who didn’t realise you could start the day by skimming the Hunter Valley Vineyards in a hot air balloon.
  • There are people in Melbourne that do not consider Uluru to be one of the most sacred, spiritual sites in the world (a key message that Oprah has been delivering).
  • A gourmet barbecue wedding on the beach at Hamilton Island would now be on the ‘possibles’ list for hundreds of Australian women.

Her trip has already paid for itself in the exposure generated internally – not to mention the four programs that are due to air next month. The fact Harpo has doubled its commitment to four one hour programs from the Australian trip speaks for itself.

Once the four programs air overseas, it will be interesting to see how Australia can capitalise on the exposure and what impact it will have on inbound tourism. Potentially, arrivals from America may not provide the biggest return – remember the US unemployment rate is around 10 percent and rising – and the economy continues to ail.

What is undoubtable though, as Winfrey herself said in the press conference at the Sydney ‘Oprah’ House this morning “…the impact of a four hour love festival about your country, broadcast into 145 countries around the world is immeasurable.”

Tourism Australia officials in the press conference outlined some of the research statistics surrounding the visit:

  • 98% of Australians have awareness of the Oprah brand
  • 86% of Australians “get” the Oprah tour and its objectives and (most importantly) are supportive of it
  • 54% of Australians watch or have watched the Oprah Winfrey show

To have that impact statistically, is huge. I doubt the failed 2022 World Cup bid – which cost the tax payer no less than 15 times more than Winfrey’s visit, bear in mind, would have a) that awareness or b) acceptance.

TEN’S OWN GOAL

Speaking football, it could be argued the big loser in all of this has been Winfrey’s host network in Australia, Network TEN. Whilst it will broadcast a special this evening and will air the programs next month, they’ve missed the boat on the live leadup – which Nine and particularly Seven have done especially well.

TEN’s special tonight will rate well, so will the ‘Oprah does Australia’ programs, but one can’t help feeling it’s like watching a sporting event on delay, the ‘wow factor’ captured so perfectly by the breakfast television programs, is gone.

To have Oprah’s ‘gal pal’ Gayle King summons Grant Denyer to her vehicle and both King and Winfrey gushing about watching Sunrise whilst they ‘pounded the treadmill’ – delivered a knockout blow to TEN when the network could least afford it – right on the eve of the switch to a heavy news and current affairs focus.

PR-wise, it’s been a disaster for TEN, especially since it didn’t protect it’s turf and let the other networks rain on what should have been it’s parade.

Given Oprah is a key part of TEN’s daily offering and the interest of the visit, a minimum, no less should have seen TEN broadcasting live from the Opera House this morning tracking every move of Oprah – and definitely avoiding the ambush where she was filmed wearing a Sunrise cap.

Instead, Today, Sunrise and Sky News (who’ve been running an ‘Oprah’ option on the red button menu all day) have taken ownership of the visit and effectively smothered the host broadcaster out of it.

Overall, the visit has been a spectacular success. Oprah’s proved to be as flamboyant, over the top and as “American” as expected.

Critically though, her ability as a smart businesswoman and PR machine has radiated loud and clear.

She hasn’t missed a key message or an opportunity to plug “brand Australia”. Tourism Australia has done an outstanding job on the PR exercise – and as a PR person, I can’t help but feeling a just a tad jealous of those who were charged with facilitating such an intense, broad communications program!

It’s going to be tough to top, that’s for sure.

On a personal note, I hope after spending the day with Russell Crowe wearing a South Sydney Rabbitohs cap, ‘the Oprah Effect’ rubs off on my footy team for next year!

What would we do without sport?

I know I blog and tweet about sport far too much, but is there anything in life that can energise, inspire, excite, disappoint and overall engage a whole range of different emotions as sport?

The performances of Geoff Huegill at the Commonwealth Games have led to a re-assessment in The House. Whilst at the beginning of the year, I was hell-bent on getting down to a target weight as a result of enjoying last summer a little too much – Huegill has proven to me that a 31-year-old can drag their lard arse off the couch and get fit.

Henceforth, I have been exercising regularly and watching what I eat and have dropped around 3.5kgs in the last couple of months. I have the aim of that target weight in mind (or at least not grabbing a spare tyre when I plonk myself on the couch!) and its getting closer…

In the sport that I’ve spent most time around, motorsport, 2010 has taken me through many emotions. Ups, downs, utter amazement and despair – which is what you come back for week after week.

Starting locally, the House has never seen a V8 Supercar Championship Series like the one this year that saw James Courtney crowned champion yesterday.

Admittedly, I love the V8 Supercar scene and think the business model is a fantastic addition to the Australian sporting landscape, but from a pure racing excitement point of view, the racing has lacked a dynamism that is inherent in other forms of the sport.

That’s changed.

The second half of this year was what I’d consider the best V8 racing in history, with the finale seeing a brutal situation with all three Title contenders in the fence together on Saturday – I can’t recall a situation like this ever occurring.

Bathurst aside, I don’t think I’ve ever anticipated a V8 Supercar event as much as I did the Sydney 500.

In the midst of the Championship battle came the news that Jason Richards had been diagnosed with adrenal gland cancer. Having started the year MC’ing a function with Jason where he held around 80 of Australia’s best young kart racers captivated with a 90 minute long Q&A session on racing, sponsorship and building a career in motorsport, that news came as a huge shock. Thankfully it would appear as though Jason is on the mend.

From a disappointment perspective, I think all Australians rode the Mark Webber wave. Formula 1 received unprecedented coverage in the Australian media, unprecedented ratings on the back of Webber and for it to end in the way it did was gutting.

The exhilaration of this year’s F1 chase, the twists and turns the Championship took at every round was terrific drama – and thankfully there was a lack of political posturing via the media that has overshadowed F1 in recent years. But that’s the beauty of sport.

Watching Webber miss out in the cruellest of circumstances won’t stop me tuning in next year. I think most Australians will be the same – everyone will be keen to see him bounce back bigger and stronger.

The irony of the F1 Championship decider was that Sebastian Vettel was the rank outsider and got the job done – and fair play to him. So too did Jimmie Johnson in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup finale. This is why I wouldn’t have been surprised if Mark Winterbottom was able to usurp the more favoured Courtney and Jamie Whincup at Homebush over the weekend!

Not being an AFL fan, one couldn’t help but to be overwhelmed by the occasion of a Grand Final draw – a spectacular, historic result, or the disgust of Sally McLelland’s disqualification and subsequent bounceback…or dare I say it the perilously poised Ashes Series.

Throughout any year you could go on and on with specific examples, but truly, sport is a great thing – nothing unites us or divides us along more passionate lines of tribalism. Just think how boring our society be without it!

POST SCRIPT: If you wonder what it is about motorsport that energises The House and millions of others so much, just watch this spectacular video…it’s worth taking the 5:22 to do so…

 

The Grand Prix of Thoroughbred racing?

Every year around Emirates Melbourne Cup time like most Australians, The House gets swept up in Cup fever and becomes a thoroughbred expert for a day.

One element of the Cup that captivates The House is the international focus that is attributed to the event and the stream of international horses, jockeys and their trainers that have become such an integral part of the week leading up to the first Tuesday in November.

Their individual stories, controversy and flair really add something to the Australian sporting landscape, quite unique that virtually no other sporting event in this nation can match.

Without stating the obvious, on a worldwide scale, thoroughbred racing is big business.

So why don’t we have a World Championship Grand Prix circuit of major thoroughbred races?

Beginning at Flemington early in the year, heading to Hong Kong, then Japan, across to Dubai, up to Kentucky before finishing in front of the Queen at Royal Ascot – a six race Championship for stayers would have the racing world captivated. Who truly could be the best of the best?

It would rival Formula 1 Grand Prix motor racing for popularity and global luxury brands would clamour to have their name associated with such a prestigious series of events. That’s not to mention the global media rights and gambling proceeds (where it’s legal) the Grand Championship would attract.

The forthright views of legendary Irish trainer, Dermott Weld with his lilting accent would juxtapose against the very different approaches of the sage, Bart Cummings and the socialite, Gai Waterhouse. These views would nestle alongside the bullish approach of the Emirati contingent and those aiming to shake up the establishment, like livewire Aussie owner, Nathan Tinkler.

Add glamour jockey Frankie Dettori and the Gallic flair of Gerald Mosse (rider of Cup Winner, Americain), a smattering of Japanese, Damien Oliver and co. from Australia and the best Britain and America can produce.

As for royalty, Sheikh Mohammed from Dubai would rub shoulders with Queen Elizabeth II and billionaire Asian owner Dato Tan Chin Nam – surely you’d entice President Barack Obama to Kentucky?

The stories just on the personalities would produce endless reams of comment, not to mention the inevitable controversies throughout the season – and we haven’t even touched on the main show – the horses.

You would see 15-20 of the best stayers in the world competing on an even playing field across different countries, different surfaces, different times of day – all wanting to be the Grand Champion of the World.

Without doubt, on paper, it is a sure fire winner on so many levels.

Of course, realities such as quarantine laws in transporting 20 horses around the world for monthly events and commitments from trainers to connections would more than likely preclude it from becoming anything more than just a pipe dream.

But it doesn’t hurt to dream…does it?

FOOTNOTE: The House was amused to read the VRC (or whoever administers the Melbourne Cup) fined Gerald Mosse $300 for blowing a “French Kiss” to the crowd as he crossed the line in victory on Americain. It’s moments of pure joy such as this that endear sportspeople to the punters and there is absolutely no reason why this should have been punishable. Sports fans like to see their sports men and women enjoy victory and agonise in defeat. The Emirates Melbourne Cup is one of the biggest races in the world – he’d just won $3.6 million for his connections, in front over 110,000 people and an Australian television audience approaching three million – what’s a French Kiss between friends?

Oakley’s quick thinking capitalises on Chilean mine disaster

 


Mario Gomez emerges from the Chilean mine - with Oakley eyewear!

 

The Chilean mine disaster has had the world gripped over the last 48 hours and of course the entire nation of Chile for the last 69 days. Regardless of the wonderful story of human achievement, some smart thinking by Oakley has ensured it is the most exposed sunglass brand in the world right now.

The media operation, with some 2000 journalists from around the world covering the story and the tent city that has hosted, educated and comforted the families of the 33 miners has been executed incredibly well by the rescue team and the Chilean Government.

The aspect took the House’s interest however was the Oakley product placement as the miners were brought to the surface.

Each miner that was “re-birthed” was wearing eye protection – obviously to assist in readjusting their vision after being in darkness for such a long period of time. I don’t profess to have seen every single miner brought to the surface, but nevertheless, of those I saw, the eye protection was exactly the same for each of the miners – all provided by Oakley.

The brand exposure derived by Oakley through a piece of quick strategic thinking by an executive to send a box of sunglasses to regional Chile is virtually impossible to calculate.

In Australia, every single commercial station was crossing to correspondents on the ground as they took the live feed, so to the cable news channels – Sky News running a split screen for two days solid, CNN ran constant coverage since the rescue began and nearly all had a “scoreboard” that updated when another was brought to the surface.

In America, the last miner emerged in time to be right in the middle of the prime time news on the West Coast. I’m not suggesting it was staged, but nonetheless, it was great timing for the biggest commercial market in the world.

The rescue is being celebrated the planet over and will be immortalised through newspaper specials, analysis and of course, the book and movie deals that are already believed to be in the can. The pictures the world will see will focus on the moment the miners were brought out of the cylindrical cage – dubbed Phoenix – with the familiar elliptical ‘O’ logo being very prominent (perhaps it could spawn a new model designation?!).

Whilst Oakley may not outwardly use the opportunity to promote the protective capabilities of its eyewear, literally millions upon millions of eyeballs have and will to continue to see it’s logo.

By no means would the company have paid for the rights to send sunglasses down to the miners – the rescuers and Government would be considered callous for profiteering from the rescue – so for the cost of a few pairs of sunglasses, Oakley is now the most exposed eye protection brand in the world.

Smart thinking during the course of a crisis can have some dramatic effect on brand recognition, delivering a huge return for very little investment – just as Oakley did.

FOOTNOTE: Oakley were approached by a Chilean journalist with regards to supplying eyewear to the miners as this press release from their website attests: http://www.oakley.com/community/posts/2534?cm_mmc=twitter-_-news-story-_-chilean-miner-rescue-_-_

There has been a figure of $41 million in exposure quoted – all for the cost of 33 pairs of sunglasses. Well done Oakley!

The Outhouse: Understanding needed, not Burning of Qurans

The story relating to the so-called “Pastor” in Florida that wishes to burn the Quran to commemorate September 11 this week has really got the House’s windows steamed up. So much so, we’re sending him (Terry Jones) to The Outhouse – where he belongs.

Of course, the idea has been taken up by the redneck element in America – ever since 9/11 there has been an absolute divide between Americans and the Muslim world, with no real effort from either side to understand the others position.

The idea that Jones proposes no doubt fuels that fire (no pun intended), especially on a day that has forever been etched into the world’s memory. 9/11 is still vivid in my memory and the vision of those planes careering into the World Trade Centres doesn’t get any less shocking as time passes.

As abhorrent as it seems, a “burn a Quran” sentiment in the days after 9/11 may have been slightly understandable given the anger that surrounded the events of that day, however this far down the track it’s completely unacceptable.

There would have been many innocent Muslims that lost their lives in the devastation, just as there are good Muslims that don’t have the intention of blowing the world up (you’ve probably encountered a few of them on your way to or from the office today).

The actions of those men on that day are not representative of the Muslim people. Most Muslims I know here and overseas are regular people – whether they take a strict approach to their faith or adopt a more relaxed attitude (however they can keep their “turkey bacon” and “chicken ham” – I’ll have the real stuff thanks!).

Jones’ inflammatory sentiment has done nothing to heal the wounds of those still grieving lost ones and the loss of the world’s innocence at the hands of the hijackers.

The Muslim world and the Christian world should be uniting as one to commemorate the events of September 11 this weekend, standing together to remember those that paid the ultimate price following the stupidity of a minority.

A collaborative, united approach between Muslim leaders and Christian leaders in the USA and indeed, worldwide would assist in re-building many of the bridges that for so long have appeared charred. We see it here in Australia on a regular basis with the issues between Muslim communities and white Australia.

Whilst ever there is still a perception of “Us against Them” and Un-Christian radicals like Jones are given a pulpit to stand on, neither side will be able to walk forward. Sure, there are fundamental differences in the understandings of the Muslim and Christian faiths, but there must be co-ordination on both sides and collaboration so that the world can operate in a sense of peace, unity and harmony.

QR CODES GREAT WAY FOR BRANDS TO ENGAGE

Chances are that you’re starting to notice odd squares on certain household products or advertisements in Australia – like the example included with this post. The ‘barcodes’ are known as QR Codes – and they’ve only just started to infiltrate Australia.

If you go to Japan, every bar, every street poster, many products and every event has its own QR code. Think of the QR code as an extension of the packaging or advertisement – it gives a consumer access to an interactive product brochure.

Scanning a QR code (via your smartphone) leads a user to a website. They provide an excellent way for brands to instantly engage furth

er with potential customers, taking consumers directly to pointed information without having to embark on a long, detailed and often frustrating search.

With such technology available and the prevalence of smartphones among Australian consumers, there should be no reason why every company isn’t adopting the technology as part of the marketing mix.

WHAT DO QR CODES DO?

Each QR code is generated uniquely and the data contained within directs the user to a microsite. ‘Code readers’ as applications can be downloaded for smartphones. Scanning the code via the phone’s camera directs your smartphone to a specific site.

They rely on the focus of your phone’s camera, so can be scaled to be extremely small (i.e. as part of the label on a food or household product) or huge – examples have been seen on the side of buildings.

QR Codes were developed by Denso Wave for Toyota as an identification system for the automotive industry and then expanded into other applications in Japan – to the point where you cannot escape them (Source: Wikipedia). They are now starting to take off in other parts of the world – Australia in particular seems to be adopting the device vigorously.

WHY USE THEM?

It’s the House’s opinion that the QR Code technology is an easy way to develop a relationship with customers – they can be scaled so as not to be pervasive on the product packaging and depending on the product and microsite a user is directed to, can really drive interest in the product.

It also eliminates the need for producing a detailed product brochure – it can be accessed via the website and provide more detail than a printed brochure or product package is limited to.

If one is walking through a retailer and is considering a product in a category, but needs to know more about its usage situation or nutritional information (in the case of a food), you could scan the QR Code and look at it in use, or view its product attributes independently.

The applications are as endless as the creative mind can generate. With so many options for engaging with potential customers these days, QR

Codes – in our mind – are a great way to develop a relationship – uniquely – and provide the consumer with solid insights into products and events, whilst cutting through clutter and narrowing information searches.

It’s a funny world…

Still nearly a week after the election, the question most Australians are asking is “who’s running the show” – well, almost – certainly not our leading “Current Affairs” programs.

On a night when an interview with Tony Abbott, or Julia Gillard or perhaps one of the independents that hold the keys to our country might have been a lead story on either A Current Affair or Today Tonight, both programs chose to lead with ‘Dodgy Mince’.

Well, when considering Coles has nailed its colours to the TEN and Masterchef flagpole, is it any wonder?

By the same token, we have a 10-gallon hat wearing, gun toting, horse riding bushie who’s main concern is banning banana imports as holding sway over the country’s future…

One can only wonder as to what the rest of the world thinks when they see Bob Katter’s performance from Sydney Airport the other day.

It’s a weird world we live in…

Don’t dud a Queenslander – just ask Julia! Election2010 Blog

If there’s one thing we learned over the Election weekend its this – Queenslanders aren’t just parochial about football!

The bloodbath that occurred in the Queensland Federal Labor Party ranks was of course partially motivated as a backlash towards the Bligh State Government, but in this writer’s opinion, the main reason for the anti-Labor sentiment is the Kevin Rudd factor!

Julia Gillard had the audacity to knife a Queenslander – and Queensland knifed her back!

Brisbane, the seat in which I live (which still hasn’t been decided incidentally – but is likely to fall Liberal), had been held by Labor for 20 years and wasn’t likely to fall, but the Green voters preferenced Liberal instead.

I was amazed driving around on Saturday night that every bar and pub in my immediate vicinity had the election coverage tuned to their screens…people have been genuinely interested in this campaign and have shown protest at the similar policies of the majors in their droves.

The fear and concern I’ve been picking up about the potential of a minority Government is quite fascinating. It’s a weird situation we find ourselves in and being among a group of people yesterday, the atmosphere of the unknown was evident. We’re in unchartered territory here, folks.

However, its something that’s been repeated almost all over the world, I believe Canada has had minority Governments for the last three terms and more recently, the negotiations that took place to install David Cameron as British Prime Minister prove that we’re not alone.

Further drawing on world political events, either the Coalition or Labor will have no choice to enter into a Government by negotiation, a collaborative approach that was one of the cornerstones of Barack Obama’s ascension to the Presidency.

As I type, it still isn’t clear which party is going to be invited to form Government. Under constitutional law according to a radio program I heard this morning with Brisbane Constitutional Law expert, Peter Black and Greens candidate, Andrew Bartlett, the Prime Minister is always given the first right of refusal by the Governor General to form Government. They have to have enough support from the Indies that they can get major bills – such as the budget through the Parliament.

The thought of a minority Government under Abbott, to be honest, is not that scary a prospect. I approach it with a great deal of optimism – there will be no crazy bills, no over spending, the Government will be held entirely accountable for its actions and will be quite slick.

It may be exactly what the country needs after the unrest of the last few years and arrest the perilous state many small businesses are finding themselves in currently.

I think the major concern that everyone has is Bob Katter having a casting vote on how the nation runs. I’m sure Bob’s a champion bloke, but he has this air of “loose cannon” about him.

Nevertheless, you can almost guarantee his allegiance will go to the highest bidder. Kennedy (his electorate) will probably be that drunk (in a figurative sense) on Government money when the Parliament is formed, he will more than likely be neutralised as a force.

The absolute highlights – for me – on Saturday night were the election of Wyatt Roy, the 20 year old Queenslander to Longman, Kevin Rudd’s very Prime Ministerial speech to jubilant supporters (he isn’t gone yet, people!) and the contrast with that of the Gillard “party” in Melbourne…with special mention to the lone cellist being the only person left on the floor half hour after the PM had spoken.

Either way, it’s still going to be a few days until we find out exactly what’s going on and who’s leading the country. I sincerely hope we can come to a resolution without going to the polls again.

Regardless, the future will be fascinating to watch. The electorate is well and truly engaged in our political system – perhaps for the first time ever for many.

And remember, don’t screw a Queenslander, cos’ they’ll screw back! Just ask Julia.

An attendees insight into the Brisbane “Undecided Voters” Forum

As one of the 200 “swinging voters” selected for last night’s National Leader’s Forum in Brisbane, I thought I’d give you an insight into the process and the actual forum itself. If you wish to contact me with any questions you have, feel free to post them to the blog and I’ll answer them as best I can.

SELECTION:

I received a call from Q&A Research at 8:06pm on Monday night just after the Forum was mooted on the 7:30 Report (I’m registered with them for paid market research).

The questioner asked me a series of questions:

–          My age bracket

–          If the election was held now – which party would I vote for (Labor, Liberal, Greens or other)?

–          If I usually voted a particular way

After answering those, I was deemed worthy of attending the event and would be paid $50 for the evening (hey, a pineapple’s a pineapple in this allegedly healthy post-GFC economy we live in!).

THE EVENT:

After an early dinner, I lined up with the throng to get in and noticed some protestors over the road from the Club – including a giant blow-up spliff! I didn’t realise pro-marijuana was a big issue in the campaign, but it seems like it is!

I took a seat toward the back of the auditorium, as it turns out, right among the throng of journos following the campaign. Immediately, Tony Moore from Brisbane Times asked if I could be one of his subjects for the evening.

It struck me that the room was much better branded than the Rooty Hill forum – News Limited’s marketing and branding people probably got a good kick after Rooty Hill – and deservedly so.

The crowd represented a pretty decent cross-section I thought, I was sat next to a couple of Gen Y’ers, there was a group of public servants in front of me (one of which was either Tony Abbott’s love child or significantly younger brother), a group of younger people and some older people.

Mr. Abbott entered the room with no announcement and proceeded to meet voters. Once he got to where I was, he shook hands with Mr. Moore and cracked a lame joke about tweeting already (actually I was the Tweeter, not the journo!) before heading through the rat pack.

I fully expected Ms. Gillard to storm the room and confront Mr. Abbott and turn the forum into a debate – considering how poorly the media played the “rush” to fill the auditorium on Wednesday, it would have added some unique theatre to the campaign, but alas, I was wrong.

His performance began slowly I thought, then about halfway through he got into stride and the ‘true Tony’ came out. Early on, the questions didn’t give him much to work with, but gathered pace as the hour wound through. I like the pragmatism of Abbott – if he doesn’t know the answer to something – he will say ‘I don’t know’, rather than getting wound up in spin buying him time to try and find an answer like his adversary.

I didn’t like his answer about having infinite oil reserves or his answer that ‘The Greens will never govern Australia’ – write off the perceived weaker at your own peril, Tony!

A quick vox pop with Mr. Moore and then a break. You’d swear some of the people there had never seen a party pie the way they swarmed the food.

Next, Ms. Gillard arrived. Her hair’s much bigger in real life! She looked a little fresher than Mr. Abbott up close.

Make no mistake, Julia is a very polished performer – if this Prime Minister thing doesn’t work out, she could – and would – be able to give Nicole Kidman a run for her money.

She hit the ground running, but her answers just weren’t direct – and toward the end, she was losing her audience, evidenced by the murmuring among the crowd. The classic was her answer to the question about the NBN. After sort of answering the question, she went on about “The Broadband” and bringing doctors into your home. On another question, I tuned out altogether, looked up two minutes later and she was still banging on with the same answer!

After summing up my thoughts for the Brisbane Times and a quick grab with the Australian Financial Review, it was all over, then the journos had to pack up their mini-media centre and off to the next engagement (which I think was home in Canberra for some). I was feeling drained and thought a beer would help gather my thoughts.

THE VERDICT

On the way out, we had to place our armbands into a box as to who we thought had performed the best. For keeping his audience, answering questions directly and with honesty – I was one of the 75 that gave my nod to Abbott. 83 gave their nod to Gillard, with a further 42 abstaining.

Interestingly, despite being assured our armbands were completely anonymous, our cash envelopes were numbered. On reflection, I realised the number on my envelope corresponded to my armband, however I didn’t take notice if this number was recorded on the sign-on sheet – I’m guessing yes.

So Galaxy would know exactly who considered themselves a Labor or Liberal voter going in, their age and which way they went in this straw poll! Maybe that could explain the 42 that abstained?

Overall, this style of debate works well for some sectors of the public. It addressed some of the smaller issues that have dominated the campaign.

There were still no questions about innovation – truly moving Australia forward, our trading partnerships (although Ms. Gillard did mention China – the first time our biggest trading partner has been mentioned this campaign!), an Afghanistan exit strategy or those types of issues.

Whilst I was a swinging voter in terms of the popularity contest between Abbott and Gillard, in my native seat (Hunter, NSW), my mind was made up before the ballot printed.

Since the start of the campaign, the two leaders have basically met each other in the middle. They are singing from similar hymn sheets now. My dislike of Ms. Gillard has waned over the last few weeks – I’m finding her on occasion warm and disarming, whilst my liking for Mr. Abbott has also diminished, but Gillard showed last night that she’s nothing but Rudd with dyed hair – those lining up behind her are the ones to watch out for.

On Saturday, I think we’ll see a strong protest vote to the Greens and other minor parties and indeed they could hold the balance of power in the House. Nevertheless, 17 seats is a lot for the Coalition to win – I think Gillard will govern, but it would be nice to see “The Rabbit” catch the Greyhound for a change….

———

The Brisbane Times articles that quote “The House” (We even change name halfway through the first one!):

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/federal-election/undecided-voters-hope-for-twoforone-deal-at-broncos-leagues-club-20100818-12ewi.html

http://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/federal-election/gillard-and-abbott-faceoff-at-brisbane-forum-20100819-12fef.html