Rudd, of the Labor party, and opposition leader Tony Abbott, of the Liberal-National coalition, faced off for a debate in front of a panel of journalists in Canberra on Sunday ahead of an election on September 7, the BBC reported.
In his opening comments, Rudd, who was elected in June and called for new elections a week ago, said the election was "a clear choice on the economy, on jobs, on how we support families under pressure and how we support education and health."
"I can see a great new future for Australia, and the government I lead knows how to build that future for all Australians," Rudd said.
However, Abbott said if Australians wanted a new way, they should choose a new government, Sky News Australia reported.
"This debate is between Mr. Rudd and me, but the election is not about Mr. Rudd, it's not about me, it's about you the people of Australia," Abbott said in his opening statement. "Who can make your future more secure? Who can make your life better?"
Later in the debate, Rudd promised legislation on same-sex marriage within 100 days of a re-election, The Guardian reported.
Legalizing same-sex marriage is "a mark of decency to same-sex couples across the country who wish the same loving, caring relationship that, for example, I have had with Therese my wife now for the last 32 years, and for that to be formalized," Rudd said.
After the debate, Abbott's Coalition complained that Rudd broke a rule for the debate, which prohibited the leaders from bringing in pre-prepared notes.
"It's what we have come to expect from Kevin Rudd, the rules never apply to him. We want the national Press Club to review this and take this matter up," said Brian Loughnane, the Liberal federal director.