THE first shots in the traditional battle over the nature and timing of the election leaders' debates have already been fired.

Coalition National Campaign Director Brian Loughnane wrote to Labor Party national secretary George Wright within hours of the election being called to propose three public forum-style debates beginning next Sunday at the National Press Club in Canberra followed by events in western Sydney and Brisbane.

Mr Wright responded on Twitter a short time later revealing Prime Minister Kevin Rudd was challenging Opposition Leader Tony Abbott to a nationally televised debate on Monday - the first official day of the campaign.

"Thanks for the letter. Remember when Tony said this? 'Name the date, start the campaign. I'll debate him every day'," Mr Wright tweeted.

"The PM's offered to kick things off with a debate tomorrow night. Sky say they'll host. Is Tony in?"

Mr Loughnane had not responded to Mr Wright's challenge as of 7pm on Sunday.

In his letter Mr Loughnane indicated the National Press Club debate would take the form of both leaders providing opening remarks before taking questions from selected press gallery journalists.


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Each Leader would also have an opportunity to respond to each other's responses, and provide a closing statement.

Just last month Mr Abbott declined to debate Mr Rudd at the National Press Club - just two weeks after the latter returned to The Lodge.

The second event would be held at the Rooty Hill RSL, made famous by former PM Julia Gillard's mini western Sydney blitz earlier this year, and would take the form of both leaders making opening statements and participating in separate question and answer sessions with the audience.

In Brisbane each the leaders would be on the stage at the same time and after opening statements would each respond to questions from the audience.

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