The worm turns against Abbott

THE world of Twitter has declared Prime Minister Kevin Rudd the winner of yesterday’s Federal health debate.

While the television worm was doing its best to judge the first debate in the lead-up to this year’s Federal election, Australians jumped online to give their verdict.

Mr Rudd was hands down the winner of the health debate with Opposition Leader Tony Abbott, with about 2-to-1 Tweets supporting the Prime Minister.

But there were plenty who said neither side won, backed Tony Abbott, or said the debate was simply a waste of time.

During the clash at theNational Press Club the Nine Network had its traditional ‘worm’ monitoring opinion from a specially-selectedstudio audience.

On that barometer, MrAbbott was hardly a hit and Mr Rudd was a clear winner.

Mr Abbott was not surprised the worm did not like him much.

“That doesn’t surprise me, there hasn’t been any Liberal leader who the worm has liked,” he told reporters.

“My job is not just to court cheap popularity with platitudes, my job is to ask the hard questions.”

He was not prepared to give a view on how he did during the debate.

The Prime Minister also preferred to leave the assessment to others.

“That’s for others to determine, the important thing is health and hospitals reform,” Mr Rudd said.

Doctors believe both the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader made important announcements during the debate that will enhance patient care.

Australian Medical Association president Andrew Pesce – who wanted Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott tofocus more on policy and less on politics – believes both delivered.

Mr Rudd promised alternative funding for rural andregional hospitals, while Mr Abbott pledged to provide an additional 3500 beds.

“From the Prime Minister’s point of view I believe he did announce there would be alternative funding for country hospitals which were too small to rely on case-mix funding,” Dr Pesce said after the nationally-televised debate.

“That gives us much more reassurance that there’ll be appropriate funding so those small rural hospitals can continue to deliver the services their communities require.”

Dr Pesce also welcomed Mr Abbott’s vow to provide more hospital beds: “That’s a good thing and something the AMA has been calling for.”

But he said there was still not enough detail from either side to determine whose vision was better. – AAP

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