Queensland’s future will be decided on October 31.Photo: Brett Wortman / Sunshine Coast Daily
Queensland’s future will be decided on October 31.Photo: Brett Wortman / Sunshine Coast Daily

EDITORIAL: Debate decisions, campaign coverage, next steps

IN THE past 24 hours, hundreds have watched the replay of the Chronicle's Queensland 2020 election debates where candidates in Maryborough and Hervey Bay were quizzed on some of the biggest issues this region faces ahead of this historic vote. You can catch up here.

Since then, there's been a steady flow of positive feedback from locals who also expressed surprise at some of the answers (or lack-thereof) and want to hear more from their candidates. Readers can rest assured these debates are just the beginning.

Some of the social media commentary and feedback to the editor email has also been around why some minor party candidates and Hervey Bay's Labor candidate didn't appear in these 30-minute live debates.

The answer to the former, while sure to still be unpopular with some, is simple and conspiracy free.

The Courier Mail, in partnership with Sky News and News Queensland's regional titles, including the Chronicle, is currently running 30 virtual debates across Queensland in an effort to ensure voters in regional seats get the chance to hear from key players and parties on hyper-local issues in a fast-paced Q & A.

The set format across the board is a maximum of five people including the moderator.

In a 30-minute slot, factoring in opening and closing pitches, more on the call would mean questions would have to be reduced to two or three in total.

In smaller areas, where only one or two are sidelined, this likely feels more personal. It's not.

Maryborough's Samantha Packer, candidate for the Informed Medical Options Party, has regularly featured in Chronicle in recent weeks and that's not about to change. We welcome her input into the ongoing campaign coverage.

In Hervey Bay, it was decided it would have been unfair to include another lower profile party such as the Animal Justice Party given the Maryborough decision and the need for a real debate between those in the closest race and most likely to influence the result. 

That debate involved the LNP's Steve Coleman, Independent candidate and former deputy mayor Stuart Taylor and One Nation candidate Damian Huxham (as promised during the debate, the script from his closing speech, which dropped out when he lost internet connection, can be viewed here).

Hervey Bay's Labor candidate Adrian Tantari was also invited to be part of this but did not take part.


Labor candidate for Hervey Bay Adrian Tantari at the last state election.
Labor candidate for Hervey Bay Adrian Tantari at the last state election.

At the party's urging, the appearance of all local Labor candidates was determined by Labor headquarters in Brisbane and until Wednesday, it was clear Labor was only prepared to commit to having their people appear in debates for the state's 10 most marginal seats (Fraser Coast seats didn't feature).

Maryborough MP Bruce Saunders was caught up in this and is to be congratulated for stepping up anyway. Others around the state have since followed suit.

A senior Labor figure told the Chronicle on Wednesday Mr Tantari's reason for not taking part in the local debate was not necessarily tied to the Labor's now-softened stance on News Corp's debates but instead due to an undisclosed family commitment.

Since Mr Tantari was officially endorsed earlier this month, the Chronicle has not been able to reach him by phone but we would welcome contact and his input.

In the meantime, Queensland's future will be decided on October 31.

The Chronicle is committed to continuing to cover the local issues which will determine where our region fits in that future and stands by tough decisions that sometimes have to be made when there is little time and much at stake.

As always however, we welcome your feedback and most importantly, want to keep hearing from you about the topics you want all of your candidates to tackle ahead of October 31.

*Important note: While all emails to the previous address are being temporarily forwarded, we've made the switch to GMail and the best email to reach the editor on now is jessica.grewal1@news.com.au