ENGAGING. Combative. Informative.
Three words that certainly describe The Bunyip’s debate between incumbent Liberal Member for Schubert Stephan Knoll and SA-BEST leader and candidate for Hartley Nick Xenophon, held last Wednesday night.
Mr Knoll and Mr Xenophon, like two boxers meeting for the first time, spent the first few rounds – focused on business, tourism and employment – scoping one another out, rather than throwing haymakers from the opening bell.
As the night progressed, both candidates found their groove, and the jabs soon turned into hooks.
The topic of energy was, arguably, the most engaging, with Mr Knoll and Mr Xenophon seemingly prepared to debate the issue for hours, and rightly so, given its importance.
The forum reached a crescendo when Mr Knoll asserted that Mr Xenophon’s softening on his trademark ‘No Pokies’ stance was “hard left”, prompting a fiery response.
Similarly, Mr Knoll was brazen in his defence of his party leader Steven Marshall’s decision to rule out forming a minority government with SA-BEST, if necessary.
In the end, the contest would have gone to a points decision.
It was great theatre, and the comments circulating around the gallery afterwards certainly reflected that.
Both Mr Knoll and Mr Xenophon could have taken the easy route and opted out of participating in the forum – but they didn’t.
The result was an evening full of information, entertainment and, above all else, engagement.
The Bunyip thanks both candidates for their participation, and to the many guests who attended – there ought to be more forums like it.
Read Knoll, Xenophon lock horns for The Bunyip’s run-down of the evening.