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Car crash: the Tony Abbott interview everyone is talking about.

Leigh Sales

Wow. Just, wow.

If you weren’t watching the ABC’s 7.30 last night then you need to. And fast. Because presenter Leigh Sales’ interview with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has broken out of Canberra’s political bubble and got everyone talking.

It was an unusual interview to say the least. Sales, who is a phenomenally competent journalist was in spectacular form.

She came out strongly from the start, armed with facts and figures and across the detail in a way that took the Opposition Leader completely by surprise. Which in itself was surprising.

Especially the part where she forced him to admit he hadn’t read the BHP report he was using to attack the Government.

The mood was icy by the completion of the segment. The Opposition Leader’s performance was not a strong one and on issues like the carbon tax, asylum seekers and the Prime Minister’s popularity – areas where he usually dominates the debate – he seemed to fall apart.

You can watch the interview on the ABC’s website here.

Here is a taste (but the transcript really doesn’t do it justice) of how it all transpired:

Tony Abbott

LEIGH SALES: Have you actually read BHP’s statements?

TONY ABBOTT: No, but I’ve also got again the statement of Jacques Nasser, who says, “While we’re still evaluating the impact of the carbon tax, but it just makes it more difficult.”

LEIGH SALES: But hang on, no, no, you haven’t read their statements today, but you’re commenting about what they’ve announced today and how the Federal Government’s to blame for that.

….

LEIGH SALES: Do you – I’m asking you though, not about the Government. I’m asking: do you accept that it’s legal to come to Australia to seek asylum by any means – boat, plane – that it is actually legal to seek asylum?

TONY ABBOTT: I think that people should come to Australia through the front door, not through the back door. If people want a migration outcome, they should go through the migration channels.

LEIGH SALES: That’s an answer to the question if I asked you: how do you think people should seek asylum?, it’s not an answer to the question: is it legal to seek asylum?

To give you a sense of how the interview came across, this is how the reaction unfolded on Twitter last night:

And in the ultimate political contrast, the Prime Minister took to the ‘Blue Room’ at Parliament House today to deliver a press conference of epic proportions. She spoke for about and hour and a quarter (to put that in perspective, the average politician’s press conference is around 20 minutes).

Prime Minister Gillard took questions from the press gallery on issues from asylum seekers, to sexism in the media, to  her former boyfriend’s alleged misconduct 17 years ago. She spoke almost entirely without notes and was cool, calm and determined. Stay tuned for coverage of the press conference on tonight’s news.

Editor’s note: Tony Abbott has since clarified in a press conference that he had read the BHP documents.


Were you watching 7.30 last night? What did you think of the interview? What did you think of the Prime Minister’s press conference today?

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