Election debate: Journalist blasted for asking leaders for 'definition of a woman'

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On a night marred by shouting, heated clashes and technical glitches, there was no shortage of complaints on social media about how the second leaders debate unfolded on Sunday night.

Described by one political journalist as a "s*** blizzard", many viewers labelled it everything from "a farce" to "a joke".

For some, there was one question that summed up the election campaign so far which has been characterised by so-called "gotcha" questions and fiery exchanges between journalists and leaders.

Veteran journalist Deborah Knight, one of three on a panel asking questions, tried to create another controversial moment.

However the seemingly innocuous question turned out to be just that.

The simple question was criticised by some viewers for its seemingly strange motives. Source: AAP/Channel Nine
The simple question was criticised by some viewers for its seemingly strange motives. Source: AAP/Channel Nine

Ms Knight asked both Scott Morrison and Anthony Albanese what the definition of a woman was.

The ostensible attempt to ignite a debate about the trans community was simply side-stepped by both candidates.

"An adult female," Mr Albanese responded.

"A member of the female sex," Mr Morrison concurred.

"There has been a degree of confusion around that," Ms Knight then claimed.

"I don't think it's confusing," Mr Albanese said before proceedings quickly moved on from the bizarre exchange.

ANU political historian Frank Bongiorno was among those to be critical of the strange moment.

"A so called journalist used this occasion to ask candidates for their definition of a woman," he complained online amid a chorus of criticism about the nature of the debate.

"This is a f***ing embarrassment. Glad to see both of the leaders shoot down that stupid gotcha question on the definition of a woman," one viewer vented on Twitter.

"Channel 9, what was the purpose of your question about definition of a woman? It’s not an election issue. Were you trying to stir up transphobia?" another said.

Scott Morrison admits vaccine rollout was a race

Mr Morrison and Mr Albanese clashed repeatedly with cost of living pressures continuing to dominate the election campaign.

The prime minister admitted he made a mistake by saying getting Covid-19 vaccines into the people's arms was "not a race".

"It was a race ... and we shouldn't have described it in those terms," he said during the live debate televised by the Nine Network on Sunday night, ahead of early voting opening on Monday.

'There is a stench around Canberra': Albanese

Mr Albanese said the government was "too little, too late" in its response to the pandemic.

"That is something that has defined this prime minister," he said.

"It doesn't matter whether it is the bushfires or the floods or the vaccine rollout, or the rapid antigen tests."

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese shouted over each other frequently during the debate.
Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese shouted over each other frequently during the debate. Source: AAP

Viewers were evenly split on which leader won the debate, Nine News said of more than 30,000 verdicts counted shortly after the TV event.

Mr Morrison and the Opposition leader were grilled on cost of living pressures, interest rates, climate policies, affordable housing, the economy, China and integrity.

When asked whether he had seen corruption in the Liberal party, Mr Morrison replied: "No I haven't."

Mr Albanese said "there is a stench around Canberra at the moment" and repeated his promise to legislate a national anti-corruption watchdog this year if he wins the election.

Mr Morrison asked his opponent how Australians can believe he is "now for them" after having changed his policies on negative gearing and boat turnbacks.

When questioning turned to the independent candidates, the panel asked the prime minister if he would resign to allow the coalition to form government. He said: "No".

Mr Albanese said he would not negotiate on any of the policies Labor took to the election in the event of a hung parliament.

"I am campaigning very hard to form government in my own right," he said.

The two leaders ruled out extending the fuel excise cut, which has seen the levy slashed by half for six months.

with AAP

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