Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Labor leader Anthony Albanese met in Brisbane yesterday evening for the first leaders’ debate of the election campaign, facing questions from 100 undecided voters who quizzed them on everything from the cost of living, to the National Disability Insurance Scheme, to geopolitical relations with China.

Afterwards, one audience member, Thomas, told Sky News “I really enjoyed it ” (he thought it was going to be boring). Mark thought Morrison was the more polished performer, while fellow attendee Jess said she was strongly considering taking her vote elsewhere, away from the major parties. In all, 40% of the attendees gave the debate to Albanese, 35% to Morrison and 25% were still undecided.

What do political experts make of it? We asked three Australian politics specialists to watch the hour-long debate. As Paul Williams writes, “this was probably Albanese’s last chance to reset a Labor campaign derailed by some own goals in the campaign’s first week”.

In another piece today, Caroline Fisher and Ivor Gaber write about the evolution of a dangerous new campaign tactic - strategic lying - and why voters need to watch out for it ahead of May 21.

Judith Ireland

Deputy Editor, Politics + Society

No magic moments: 3 Australian politics experts on Morrison and Albanese’s first election debate

Andrea Carson, La Trobe University; Paul Williams, Griffith University; Rob Manwaring, Flinders University

Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Labor leader Anthony Albanese met in Brisbane for the first debate on the election campaign.

‘This worked much better than I thought.’ Why you need to watch out for strategic lies in the federal election

Caroline Fisher, University of Canberra; Ivor Gaber, University of Sussex

A strategic lie is designed to grab media attention with an initial, deliberate lie. This shifts the news agenda onto a politician’s preferred territory.

PEFO tells us Morrison has abandoned some secret promises, but his books are in order

Stephen Bartos, University of Canberra

The pre-election fiscal and economic update released in the shadow of Wednesday’s leaders debate is helping keep the budget and the election honest.

Politics with Michelle Grattan: Andrew Wilkie invites independent candidates to call him for a chat about approaching a hung parliament

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Michelle Grattan speaks with Independent MP Andrew Wilkie about how he would approach the situation if the election produces no clear winner. No deals. But maybe a letter on giving confidence and supply

Deals, golf with Trump, and little introspection: Joe Hockey goes to Washington and writes his memoirs

Dennis Altman, La Trobe University

Former ambassador to the United States Joe Hockey considers himself ‘a unique and successful politician’. Dennis Altman is not convinced.

How long can Vladimir Putin hold on to power?

William Partlett, The University of Melbourne

Much of what is happened in Russia right now can be traced back to changes to the constitution in 1993.

New research detects pre-eruption warning signals at Whakaari White Island and other active volcanoes

David Dempsey, University of Canterbury; Alberto Ardid, University of Canterbury; Shane Cronin, University of Auckland

Before the deadly eruption of Whakaari White Island in December 2019, pressure and a tremor built up in a pattern seen in other volcanoes. It could help scientists develop an early-warning system.

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