THE DEBATE: So who won it?
IF the bookmakers watched last night's Gladstone Election Debate hosted by The Observer and The Courier Mail, they may have wound the already short-priced favourite in even further.
Prior to the showdown between incumbent Labor MP Glenn Butcher, and two of his four challengers at this election in the LNP's Ron Harding and One Nation's Kevin Jorgensen, some markets had the sitting member as short a quote as $1.05 to retain his seat.
In the lead-up to the debate, which was moderated by The Observer's lead political reporter Rodney Stevens and livestreamed free on The Observer and Courier Mail websites, I penned a piece which highlighted Butcher's incredibly short-priced election favouritism being comparable to that of legendary Australian race horse Winx.
When Winx won her 33rd consecutive race last year before being retired from Australian racing with a record that is unsurpassed, and one that could easily be her's forever, she left the barriers an official $1.06 favourite.
In fact, during the remarkable Winx win streak, only once did she go around shorter than $1.06 odds - and that was at her penultimate race start when she jumped at the "Butcher odds" of $1.05.
Being the incumbent, Butcher was afforded the first opportunity to speak in Thursday night's Gladstone Election Debate - WATCH FULL REPLAY HERE.
He jumped out of the barriers better than Winx and he didn't look back.
In terms of performance, Butcher, Labor's man in Gladstone since 2015, validated the theory that "you can't buy experience."
His answers to all of the questions asked were polished and more importantly, they contained substance.
A good example of this substance was the new information Butcher revealed around the future of the Harbour City's health services and Mater Hospital - READ FULL STORY HERE.
For those readers and viewers who may be wondering, bear in mind that no candidates knew, nor were they given access to, debate questions prior to the event.
However, those candidates worth their salt would have done their research and been well prepared for what ammunition The Observer was going to fire their way.
Butcher certainly proved, among many things, that he can "talk the talk."
The big challenge for his Labor Party this time around is convincing voters that they can "walk the walk."
Has Butcher walked the walk in the last three years?
That's surely what he should be judged on.
Does he get stuff done? Has he got to get more done to deserve your vote?
That is all for you to decide.
Although not appearing as polished as Butcher in terms of confidence and presentation, his rivals Harding and Jorgensen proved worthy debate opponents.
Harding readily towed the LNP party line when it came to the big ticket items, and his passion for Gladstone, as a well-known businessman in the city, was clearly evident.
Jorgensen raised some good points throughout the debate which were not lost on Butcher, who referenced these when his turn came to speak.
On the big issues of health and hospitals, The One Nation candidate injected some real-life experience and compelling content in relation to his son's battle with cancer.
Jorgensen's insight there would not have been lost on any family.
In summary, while Butcher was widely recognised as the strongest debate performer on Thursday night, these are just words penned on paper or a computer screen, and elections are not won on this type of paper or platform.
It's the papers that go into the ballot boxes on, and leading up to, Saturday, October 31, that count.
We hope that you enjoyed our election debate for Gladstone.
FOOTNOTE: The Observer would like to extend a special thank you to Yaralla Sports Club which kindly provided a venue for our moderator to be based for the 30-minute livestream debate.
- The Observer Editor, Darryn Nufer.