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Australian election debate 'a draw'

Australian Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and opposition leader Tony Abbott have held their first televised debate of the week-old election campaign without either candidate emerging as a clear winner.

The cordial hour-long debate, broadcast nationally by several television networks, focused on Australia's worsening economic outlook as a mining boom fed by Chinese industrial demand cools.

Mr Rudd has conceded his centre-left Labour Party is the underdog in the September 7 elections, and opinion polls show that the conservative opposition coalition led by Mr Abbott's Liberal Party is more popular. But Labour takes comfort in Mr Rudd outpolling Mr Abbott as preferred prime minister.

Mr Rudd is keen to have more televised debates, but Mr Abbott has yet to commit to another.

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