Australian political leaders confirm to take part in public forum

21:02, August 17, 2010      

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Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard on Tuesday confirmed to take part in a town hall-style forum with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott on Wednesday night.

Earlier, Gillard and Abbott have been locked in a stand-off about whether there will be more debates or forums, squabbling over the subject matter, format and timing.

With three days until the election, Labor has insisted there should be a debate on economy. The Prime Minister on Tuesday reissued a challenge to the Opposition Leader to join her in a one- hour economic debate before the event.

Wednesday night's People's Forum in Brisbane will follow a similar format to last week's meeting at the Rooty Hill RSL, in western Sydney, with Abbott taking the stage at 6 p.m. to take questions from about 200 Queensland voters.

Gillard will then front the same audience at 7:30 p.m. at Australian time.

The event, organized by the Courier Mail, will be broadcast live on Sky News' and moderated by the network's political editor David Speers.

In the final week of the battle on the Aug. 21 election and with polls pointing to a narrow Labor win, Abbott has finally decided to agree to a debate on the economy.

Speaking on the ABC's 7-30 Report, Abbott defended his push for a half-hour rather than hour-long debate.

"A half hour is better than nothing," Abbott said on Tuesday. " If she was fair dinkum she would turn up here tonight and debate for half an hour."

Abbott has crowned people's choice after the Rooty Hill forum held last week, with an exit poll showing audience members favored him over Gillard 71 votes to 59.



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