Hume Candidates’ Forum

The Bundanoon Community Association have hosted a Hume candidates’ forum in Bundanoon, at which the candidates addressed a variety of national and local policy issues.

Six of the nine candidates contesting the seat attended the forum, which allowed them an opportunity to make a statement and respond to a series of questions. In the order in which they presented (following a random draw), the candidates were: Zaza Chevalier (Greens); Michael Pilbrow (Labor); James Harker-Mortlock (Independent); Angus Taylor (Liberal); Bruce Nicholson (Katter’s Party); Lynette Styles (One Nation).

Each candidate was afforded five minutes to make a prepared statement, followed by a question from the moderator.

The Greens’ Zaza Chevalier is a very young candidate (just 19 years of age). She was born in Indonesia and became an Australian citizen in 2008. She lives in Crookwell with her family, but studies at Sydney University. Chevalier said it was her her studies in science that prompted her to join the Greens. The major issues she nominated were coal seam gas, a more humane approach to asylum seekers and tertiary education funding. Chevalier said she appreciates the small-town life of Crookwell. Key quote: “Making Australia a more suitable home for all of us.”

Labor’s Michael Pilbrow spent much of the night emphasising that he is representing Country Labor, and isn’t part of the old guard involved in recent corruption hearings in Sydney. He talked about his experience in a wide variety of community-based organisations, and in establishing a patient-owned health cooperative in the ACT. Pilbrow has extensive experience in the public service, having worked for AusAID for some years. Pilbrow said his philosophy is that government is not the answer to everything and that governments must work with communities to solve big problems. “DisabilityCare is one of those great Labor reforms that allows people to get what they need when they need it most.

Independent candidate James Harker-Mortlock resigned from the Nationals when it was announced they wouldn’t be contesting Hume. He has a lot of experience in various political organisations including the Liberal Party. Harker-Mortlock said he would support a Coalition government in the event of a hung parliament and would generally vote according to Nationals policy, unless the interests of the electorate dictated otherwise. Key quote: “Marginal seats tend to be the ones that receive most of the funding.”

Angus Taylor (Liberal) raised coal seam gas, high levels of both public and private debt, red tape on small business, agriculture and the National Broadband Network as big issues in this campaign. He pledged to address mobile blackspots and prioritise the NBN rollout to areas that need it most. Taylor comes with endorsements from a variety of Liberal party luminaries including the NSW Premier, Malcolm Turnbull and former Southern Highlands MP Peta Seaton. Key quote: “Make commitments to people that can be kept.”

Bruce Nicholson pitched to the ‘ordinary people’ vote, pointing out he was the only candidate on stage without a university degree but that he didn’t need a degree to see the country has been let down by Labor and Liberal governments. He said he joined the Katter Party because they say members must vote in the interests of their electorate. Key quote: “Take on Coles and Woolies.”

The One Nation candidate Lynette Styles said the major problems are loss of confidence in the economy, leading to a lack of investment and businesses closing down. She took aim at multinationals “such as Coles and Woolworths and Bunnings” and said she wanted answers on where the major party candidates stood on social issues like gay marriage, euthanasia, homelessness and affordable housing. Styles said the NBN wasn’t really an issue for people while things like the rising cost of living and affordable housing remained unresolved.

I’ll address the questions posed by the audience in another post.

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