QUESTIONS on climate change dominated a ‘meet the candidates’ forum at Maleny last night as the candidates for Fisher pitched to local residents why they should be elected at the May 21 federal poll.
The event, co-hosted by Glasshouse Country & Maleny News and Maleny Forums, was attended by 117 at the Community Centre with probing questions from climate change to housing and foreign affairs.
There were a large number of questions about climate change directed at the LNP and Labor.
Mr Wallace was asked straight out if he believed climate change exists.
“Do I believe it is 100 per cent caused by anthropogenic means, for me, I believe the jury is still out on that one,” he said.
“I’m yet to be convinced, that’s not to say I disbelieve it. I believe the climate is changing. What I do believe is that we have to reduce emissions… that is important and we have a plan to do that. We have exceeded our Kyoto targets by 419 million tonnes.”
Another questioner, Steven Laing, asked Mr Wallace that given “global warming is the single most important issue in the world… how can someone like you possible hope to represent the constituents of Fisher as we transfer towards a renewable energy future?”
“There are many challenges we face. Climate change is one of them,” Mr Wallace responded. He said it was imperative that Australia reduces its emissions.
“Poverty is another, homelessness is another, national security is another, so there are many challenges we face domestically and internationally. Climate change is not the only problem we face.”
A number of residents raised concerns of NBN. “Given the hundreds of residents in Fisher have no NBN connection or poor satellite connection, what would you do when elected to address this untenable situation?” one resident asked.
Labor’s Judene Andrews said: “I have a commitment for 1,000 Maleny residents and businesses to get full fibre network. Vote for me that will come.”
Mr Wallace responded: “In Fisher 103,897 premises are ready to service at February 2022. 67,421 are fibre to the network and 13,859 are fibre to the curb.
“5,604 are fixed wireless but one of the problems with fixed wireless are they need towers and there have been issues with towers being built in and around Maleny,” he said.
“There have been objections.”
The subject of geopolitical issues were raised by some constituents.
Mitchell asked: “The perilous situation we face around the world today… the conflict between nations and the geo-strategic situation we face around the world, and the very real prospect of that impacting us in our part of the world… in the face of all of that, what is the federal government doing about that?”
Mr Wallace said there was “no greater responsibility” than for the government to protect the nation, and that it is “the most geopolitical unstable period since 1945”.
“The federal government is alive to this… we plan to spend $270 billion in the next ten years on new equipment… aircraft, ships, submarines,” he said.
“The last time the Labor Party was in government they did not build a single ship. We have built 70.”
Ms Andrews said the coalition had “dropped the ball” on Solomon Islands, saying it occurred on its watch.
“Diplomacy is something not happening currently with the LNP Government,” she said.
“There are three principals at the heart of Labor’s national security policy: Defending Australia’s territory with integrity, protecting our national political sovereignty from external pressure and promoting Australia’s economic prosperity and social sustainability with sustainable growth.”
One constituent asked Labor’s Ms Andrews to commit to no taxes or a death tax.
“There will be not an increase in taxes at all by this government,” Ms Andrews said.
“There will be no death tax.”
Mr Wallace said “Mr Shorten brought $387 billion of additional taxes to the last election. Mr Albanese fully supported those $387 billion of additional taxes. Mr Albanese has also been personally supportive of an inheritance tax. Mr Albanese says one thing and does another.”
A question from the audience began: “I want to know the Labor policy on a federal ICAC [Independent Commission Against Corruption]. The last ten years have been the most corrupt that I have ever seen in my life. Our standing in the world is way behind the way corruption goes.”
Ms Andrews said Labor will introduce a federal ICAC.
“…and it will have teeth and it will be retrospective.”
Mr Andrews said the coalition had put up a 300-page bill and “the Labor Government refused to agree to it”.
“The Labor Party’s version is a two-page document,” he said.
“I don’t believe there should be corruption in government. We will put that proposal again if we are elected as the government.”
FIVE MINUTE PITCH
At the start of the evening candidates were invited to speak for five minutes each to introduce themselves and share why constituents should vote them in.
Candidates spoke in a randomised order, with sitting MP and Speaker of the House of Representatives Andrew Wallace first to talk.
Andrew Wallace, LNP:
He said it had been an honour to represent the electorate for the past six years, saying he had made strong inroads in expanding on established industries of retail, tourism and construction to high tech manufacturing, health and aged care.
He said in the nearly three decades he has been on the coast there are now good reasons for young people to stay and develop careers and business.
“What I believe is we need to expand and maturate our industry base. We’ve done that,” he said.
“We’ve moved to things like high-tech manufacturing and health and aged care. I’ve worked very hard to attract new businesses.”
He said it was early days but had recently signed large contracts with local businesses in the high tech sector.
He also said he had delivered billions of dollars in transport projects and the government had committed $1.6 billion for heavy rail from Beerwah to Maroochydore.
Sam Schriever, ONP:
Mr Schriever said he had grown increasingly disillusioned with the major parties and felt he was being indoctrinated to the wrong way of thinking about politics.
He said he wanted people to have more of a say in politics and was committed to developing an app to make that happen
“Instead of sitting back and complaining about it, I put my hand up and money where my mouth is and actually decided to be the change in this country for a better future.
“I’m developing a secure way to vote on your mobile phone.
“If there’s a bill if the majority of Fisher want me to vote against it I’ll vote against it, if they want me to vote for it I’ll vote for it,” he said.
Tony Moore, UAP:
Mr Moore said he had been in politics for 11 years and run in many elections including in Fisher in 2013 and rejected the notion that the country was financially resetting through planned vaccine rollouts.
“Let’s not forget the difficulty and trauma experienced over the last two years by our government-led lockdowns,” he said.
“Vaccine mandates, vaccine passports, lockouts and social division, discrimination that has impacted and destroyed many families on the Sunshine Coast particularly in our rural and regional areas.”
He said that there had been a chaotic response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the UAP would work tirelessly to reduce household pressures and pay down national debt.
”We have a plan and our plan is people focused,” he said.
“It’s policy designed to meet people where they are to reduce and fix home loan rates for three years, to pay down the debt. Not by letting you pay it down by by putting in excises on our resources and make the world global market pay down our debt.”
Judene Andrews, ALP:
Ms Andrews said a Labor Government would transition in a measured and affordable way to a clean energy future.
“Labor is the party of the living wage. It is the party of transitioning to renewable energy, the party of opportunity and a better future for all,” she said.
Ms Andrews said she brought 30 years of “real world” experience having worked in public and private sector as well as volunteering.
“I learned that government programs work best when supported by strong communities and strong communities need strong volunteers,” she said, citing her volunteer work in Thailand after surviving the Boxing Day tsunami.
She currently works for Uniting Care where she is transitioning her organisation to 100% renewable energy consumption.
“Labor will make positive changes in measured and affordable ways,” she said.
“If we get serious about reducing carbon emissions we can make Queensland a world leader in clean energy.”
Ms Andrews also said Labor would improve internet capabilities in Maleny.
“It’s about time the NBN mess is fixed and I have been successful in gaining a commitment to build a full fibre network to connect around 1,000 homes and businesses to speedy and reliable network,” she said.
Vickie Breckenridge, AJP:
Ms Breckenridge said she was standing for the Animal Justice Party because of her passion for animals and love of politics.
“I’m running for a seat in parliament because we need a kinder world,” she said.
“We see that the public are concerned about political parties not protecting animals.
“I have seen the fear in the eyes of animals going to be slaughtered.
“Our mission is to secure the interest of animals and nature through government policies,” she said.
She said three million animals were transported from Australia to the world each year and the AJP would seek to ban live exports.
“The AJP believes there is need for laws that recognises animals’ needs, capabilities and interests.
“The AJP would support the transition of live animal export workers into industries that are humane and ethical,” she said.
The AJP would ban greyhound and horse racing as well as dolphins in captivity. We will also phase out sheep and cattle farming.
“This reduces methane emissions and allows reforestation.”