7News viewers have handed the People's Forum to Prime Minister Kevin Rudd, with 56% of viewers using the exclusive 7News Viewer vote to say the PM won the showdown.
Thousands of 7News viewers cast over two million votes and also decided the economy remains the most important issue to voters - with 33% placing it ahead of health (23%), education (19%), leadership (14%) and immigration on 11%.
At one stage a frustrated Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has lost his cool under tough questioning from Prime Minister Kevin Rudd at tonight's People's Forum in Brisbane.
"Does this man ever shut up?" an exasperated Mr Abbott asked after an exchange on his Paid Parental Leave scheme.
Mr Rudd and Mr Abbott faced a grilling from 100 undecided Brisbane voters in Brisbane on a range of issues - Here's how the night unfolded:
OPENING REMARKS Prime Minister Kevin Rudd kicked things off, saying he and Tony Abbott agree on one thing - that Australia is the greatest nation on earth - but that's where the agreement ends.
"I'm in the building business", Mr Rudd said, claiming he is in the business of building opportunity and creating jobs.
A relaxed Mr Rudd then questioned what Mr Abbott will do if elected. The PM said his plans are clear - he's for better broadband, more jobs and a fairer economy.
But Mr Abbott can't afford to fund his plans without making cuts, he said. "It's time
Mr Abbott explained his cuts".
The Opposition Leader agreed this election is about the future. "Mr Rudd is right, we need a new way, and the best to get a new way is to elect a new government", Mr Abbott said.
"The past six years haven't been that great. Are we doing better than we were six years ago?" Mr Abbott asked.
The Opposition Leader pledged to cut the carbon tax, reduce the debt and stop the boats.
PUBLIC SERVICE CUTS Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has been questioned on his plans for the public service.
The questioner, who works in human services, said she was concerned the Opposition Leader would cut frontline health jobs, as he allegedly did when health minister in the Howard government.
Mr Abbott denied he had ever cut services during the Howard government.
"Let's not say I'm Mr Cut cut cut. I want to be Mr Build build build, to create more job jobs jobs", he said.
Mr Rudd claimed Mr Abbott cut $1 billion dollars in public hospital funding as Health Minister, a claim the opposition leader denies.
"Stop telling fibs", he said.
CORPORATE HANDOUTS Questioned on 'immoral' handouts to private enterprise, Prime Minister Rudd defended subsidising the car industry, saying it was incredibly important for jobs in Australia.
The PM claimed Mr Abbott's plans to cut funding for the car industry would cost 36,000 jobs.
"In the end, businesses should be profitable", Mr Abbott said. But the opposition leader defended making an exception for the motor industry.
Mr Abbott conceded he would reduce funding, but the 'extra' money tipped in by the government was unjustified.
Mr Abbott said he was committed to a profitable car industry. "I want the auto industry in this country to continue", he said.
PAID PARENTAL LEAVE Questioned on the largesse of his planned Paid Parental Leave scheme, Mr Abbott described the plan as a 'watershed reform'.
Mr Abbott makes no apologies for paying up to $75,000 for a mother to take time off after giving birth.
Prime Minister Rudd said the scheme was 'unfair and unaffordable. He questioned how Mr Abbott could afford the $5 billion a year scheme, if the levy on big business can't cover the cost.
Mr Abbott said his scheme had been fully costed by the Parliamentary Budget Office, and the rest of the cost would be covered by scrapping unnecessary Rudd government schemes.
"Does this man ever shut up?", an exasperated Mr Abbott asked at the end of the exchange.
BANK DEPOSITS LEVY Prime Minister Rudd has been asked why he has decided to tax Australians' bank deposits.
Mr Rudd said this reform was an important hangover from the Global Financial Crisis, and was absolutely necessary to insure the nation's savings.
Mr Rudd said this reform came at the request of the banks during the GFC, and now the banks should 'swallow it'.
Mr Abbott said the GFC ended four years ago.
"Why is it necessary now? Let's not use the GFC as a justification for a tax grab now", he said, while refusing to confirm his official policy on the levy.
INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS Mr Abbott said he opposed WorkChoices in the Howard cabinet, reaffirming his stance that WorkChoices is 'dead, buried and cremated'.
"We learned our lesson", he said. "We are not going to touch overtime and penalty rate provisions".
ASYLUM SEEKERS PM Rudd has pledged that his party will never abandon the UN Refugee Convention.
He also defended making the 'hard decisions' to refuse to re-settle asylum seekers in Australia as necessary to stopping the boats.
Mr Abbott also pledged to never abandon the refugee convention. He said stopping the boats is "the most compassionate thing we can do as a nation."
Mr Abbott said the current asylum seeker crisis was entirely the doing of Kevin Rudd, and that only the coalition can be trusted to stop the boats.
Mr Abbott said the 'PNG Solution' isn't working, and that he would return to the policies of the Howard government.
These policies include off-shore processing, turning back the boats when it's safe to do so, temporary protection visas, and better regional solutions.
"This is a tough problem, but tough governments can deal with it", he said. "A soft government has failed".
ENVIRONMENT "I'm a conservationist", Mr Abbott says. Mr Abbott said he is in favour of reducing emissions, and that his government could do it better than the current Labor government.
Mr Abbott spruiked his 'green army' policy, which would care for the land, saying reducing emissions isn't his only priority.
Mr Rudd accused the opposition leader of not being fully committed to fighting climate change.
Mr Rudd said his government's policies meant emissions were lowering for the first time in history.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said Mr Rudd had abandoned a price on carbon in 2009, to which Mr Rudd replied that the Opposition Leader voted it down in the senate.
IMMIGRATION Kevin Rudd defended his party's crackdown on 457 Visas. He said it was necessary to tighten up a policy which had gone too far.
Mr Abbott said he is committed to the 457 scheme, which overwhelmingly has benefited Australia.
HOUSING DEMAND On stimulating housing demand, Mr Abbott said scrapping the carbon tax was just one way he would boost the industry.
Mr Rudd said low interest rates are helping the industry now.
MARRIAGE EQUALITY Mr Abbott says his party will over time reflect the will of society, and that if there is a strong enough will in society for reform, he accepts that his party will change its view on gay marriage.
The Opposition Leader said he is a conservative and takes a conservative view on gay marriage.
He supports the traditional view and says we should not rush to change something that had remained unchanged for 'time immemorial'.
Mr Rudd said his view (supporting gay marriage) reflects the dignity belonging to all people.
He iterated that churches should remain free to hold their own marriage ceremonies, but that the state should evolve with society's views.
Mr Rudd once again urged Mr Abbott to grant a conscience vote on the issue, as is traditional on social reforms such as these.
CLOSING STATEMENTS In closing, Mr Rudd attacked Queensland's conservative Newman government.
Mr Rudd said the Queensland Premier had slashed frontline public service jobs in health and education without warning the electorate.
Mr Rudd attempted to link Mr Abbott to these cuts, warning they would be reflected nationwide if Mr Abbott is elected.
The PM urged Mr Abbott to reveal which programs he would cut if elected.
Mr Abbott said he had been upfront about his plans to cut some public service jobs, but that those cuts are necessary to reduce the deficit.
Mr Abbott said Mr Rudd has been given two chances to lead the nation and he has failed.
Mr Abbott said he was a "competent and trustworthy" member of Howard government and wants to lead a "competent and trustworthy" government of his own.