Candidates face local quiz

JUST two days before the federal election, the candidates for Hinkler last night faced off in front of almost 50 voters, answering questions from NewsMail readers.

The forum was the last chance candidates had to publicly put forward their views before the voters head to the polls tomorrow.

“We like to take the time to listen to the candidates and get a better understanding of their policies when they can explain them in person,” Bargara trademark consultant Faye Chatham said.

Candidates were asked questions from NewsMail readers on topics including the broadband network, the future of infrastructure in Bundaberg and asylum seekers.

Due to time constraints, only seven of the 20 questions chosen from the dozens submitted were able to be asked and answered.

All candidates were able to attend in person, except for Greens hopeful Jenny Fitzgibbon, who participated in the event via Skype.

But the connection was unstable and often cut out.

“You can see why we so desperately need the National Broadband Network which will be able to solve these problems,” Labor candidate Belinda McNeven said, to much applause.

The first question regarding the candidates’ policy on the introduction of an internet filter had most of the hopefuls in agreement, except Ms Fitzgibbon, who believed it contravened freedoms and could be misused.

When questioned on future infrastructure for Bundaberg, the candidates disagreed.

Ms Fitzgibbon admitted the Greens were unlikely to win in the House of Representatives in Hinkler, but urged residents to lobby the major parties about the infrastructure they wanted.

Ms McNeven rattled off a list of projects that had been commissioned by the Labor government, while Family First candidate Trevor Versace said not enough research had been put into what projects were needed.

Member for Hinkler Paul Neville said a lot more needed to be done in the way of roads, bridges, rail and ports, and conceded infrastructure had also been somewhat lacking under the former Howard Government.

The debate became a little more heated when all candidates were questioned on asylum seekers.

Independent candidate Adrian Wone said all refugees should be “treated as human beings” and more should be done overseas to try to prevent the need for them to seek asylum.

Independent Cy d’Oliveira accused asylum seekers of “breaking and entering into our country”, raising a few grunts of protest from the audience.

The remaining four candidates stuck to party policy.

A question on the quality of roads leading into Bundaberg divided the candidates again.

Ms Fitzgibbon said better public transport would help the condition of the roads, while Mr Wone and Mr Versace advocated better rail systems to keep heavy vehicles off the road.

Ms McNeven said the expense of constantly upgrading roads was holding them back but she would help push for more funds to help out.

Mr Neville said he felt both sides had neglected the state of roads in Hinkler.

“Far too much money is being spent in capital cities and south-east Queensland and I don’t think enough has been spent in regional area. I think that’s disgraceful,” he said to applause.

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