THE candidates contesting the Federal seat of Eden-Monaro faced off in front of a crowd of around 80 at the business chamber sponsored debate at Club Narooma on Friday evening.
The “Small Business Too Big to Ignore” posters covered the walls of the Montague Room as the event was jointly sponsored by the NSW Chamber and the Narooma Chamber of Commerce.
Moderating the night was Club Narooma general manager Tony Casu while Narooma Chamber president Orit Karny-Winters welcomed the candidates and the audience.
While all the candidates were apparently invited, the five attending were independent Andrew Thaler, Liberal Party candidate Peter Hendy, Palmer United Party candidate Dean Lynch, Greens candidate Catherine Moore and Labor candidate and sitting member Dr Mike Kelly.
Dr Kelly was also the first to kick off his five minute introductory speech and he decided to focus on the economic track record of the Labor Government saying Australia and its low level of debt and unemployment was the envy of the developed world.
Ms Moore was next and spoke about the Greens’ vision for health, education and aged care, as well as the bigger picture of heading toward 100 per cent renewables while developing tourism resources such as the Eden port.
Mr Lynch introduced himself as the mayor of the Cooma shire and explained his affiliation with the Palmer Party was based on his and their shared beliefs in small business and the need to stimulate the economy and grow the pie.
Mr Hendy said he has the experience as the former CEO of the Australian Chamber of Commerce to grow the local economy, which he said was vital in that as many as 60 businesses in the Eurobodalla had closed in the last two years.
Independent Andrew Thaler after apologising for being late, said an independent was needed for the balance of power and if elected he would be the “Minister for Eden-Monaro”.
The event was then turned over for questions from the audience and Ms Karny-Winters was first asking specifically what new industries could be encouraged in the district.
Dr Kelly spoke about “turbo-charging the economy” and developing new renewable energy industries such as growing algae for fuel, Ms Moore said tourism was key and the focus should shift away from logging.
Dean Lynch said there was a lack of diversity and his own shire now had a task force to look at ways of boosting tourism, while Peter Hendy spoke about reducing the burden of the carbon tax on all business that would help businesses of all kinds.
There was quite a bit of debate on the carbon tax and electricity prices, although it was noted by an audience member that only 10 per cent of electricity bills could be attributed to the carbon tax.
Similarly the candidates agreed to disagree as whether Germany was going to build more coal-fired power stations, with Mr Hendy and Dr Kelly apparently on opposite ends of the spectrum.
Other questions of note included what if elected the candidates would do to keep the super trawler out, what could be done about payroll tax, while shire youth council member Ben Potter asked about youth employment.
A question about cuts to the public service and possible impact on the Far South Coast also generated some debate among the candidates.
Seat of Eden-Monaro to be contested by eight
THE much anticipated ballot for the bellwether seat of Eden-Monaro has been finalised today with eight candidates to choose from, as David Butler from the Queanbeyan Age reports.
Liberal candidate Peter Hendy received a small campaign boost when he was drawn in the number one position on Eden-Monaro ballot papers.
Australian Electoral Commission returning officer Pat Satie presided over the official draw in Queanbeyan, with Mr Hendy drawing first position and his main rival, incumbent Labor MP Mike Kelly, drawing third position.
Mr Hendy attended the draw but said he didn’t think the number one spot was much of an advantage.
“In the end people vote the way they do based on the candidates and I don’t think there’s much difference where you are on the ballot,” he said.
However Cooma-Monaro mayor Dean Lynch, who’s running for Clive Palmer’s Palmer United Party, said the top spot could win votes from people not strongly committed to a candidate on election day.
“Number one obviously makes a difference. You’d have to say that’s the preferred position for all candidates,” he said.
Braidwood-based Greens’ candidate Catherine Moore was also in attendance at the draw, and said she hoped to improve on the nearly 10pc of the vote she won in 2010.
“It’s hard to know what people are going to do on election day,” she said.
“I’d be happy to maintain the vote and of course I’d like to increase it but I have no idea what’s going to happen. I just think that it’s really important that the Greens are there with a different voice.”
Eight candidates have successfully nominated for the bellwether seat this year, however Bega independent Ray Buckley, who gained 1.19 per cent of the vote in 2010, failed to nominate in time.
The ballot paper will read:
1. Peter Hendy (Liberal)
2. Martin Tye (Stable Population Party)
3. Mike Kelly (ALP)
4. Dean Lynch (Palmer United Party)
5. Catherine Moore (Greens)
6. Costas Goumas (Citizens Electoral Council)
7. Andrew Thaler (Independent)
8. Warren Catton (Christian Democratic Party)