Votes depend on future of TAFE, hospital and workforce
A CLEAR task was set out for those contesting the seat of Maryborough as the crowd attending Wednesday's Meet the Candidates Forum at the Brolga Theatre made known their vote depended on the future of the city's TAFE, hospital and workforce.
Six of the seven candidates - independent Russell Wattie did not attend - were each given four minutes to sell their story before the tough questions were asked.
First to take the stage was Greens candidate Katherine Webb who spoke about untapped potential for job creation in the renewable energy industry and her party's opposition to coal seam gas, which she said presented too great a risk of "poisoning" the Mary River.
One Nation hopeful Damian Huxham, who is also opposed to coal seam gas, promised to bring "a real dose of working class" to a political sphere which had neglected the region, outlining core policies of introducing subsidies for tradespeople, getting nurses "out of universities and back into hospitals" and the use of cannabis for medical proposes.
Slamming the State Government for allowing Maryborough health services to be "eroded" to Hervey Bay, businessman Steve Anderson said the Palmer United Party would restore the base hospital to its full capacity, and plugged the Colton Mine as an answer to high unemployment.
Sitting member Anne Maddern referred to dental chairs, reduction in crime and the new hospital as wins under the LNP government and urged the crowd "not to take a step backwards" by voting in an independent who would "make deals with every stray".
Independent candidate Chris Foley returned the favour, accusing Ms Maddern of "treachery" and saying members of major parties should not be able to "prostitute themselves" by putting her party agenda ahead of the region's needs and attempting to dispel the "urban myths" about independents by referring to his own track record of receiving funding during his nine years as the local member.
Labor's Bruce Saunders committed to keeping the Maryborough TAFE open, assuring voters he had received confirmation from party leader Annastasia Palaszczuk, encouraging jobs for young people and promised to be like "a dog digging for a bone" when it came to advocating for the electorate in Brisbane. The gelato store owner said he had chosen to stand after despairing at the empty shop fronts in the heart and having customers constantly talking about losing their jobs
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The majority of the questions from the floor were directed at Anne Maddern who, despite jeers from the crowd, insisted the TAFE was not closing and much of the services would soon be transferred to the Maryborough CBD.
She said the land the TAFE currently occupied was severely underutilised and not cost-effective.
Rejecting the suggestion that the government was effectively "selling the farm" when it came to the state's assets, Ms Maddern insisted they were simply being leased.
She went as far as telling the crowd that if they did not vote for the LNP, the next best option was to cast a vote for Labor.