Mayoral candidate breakfast.
Mayoral candidate breakfast. Alistair Brightman

Mayoral candidates take questions from business community

8:05AM: THE issue of direct flights to Melbourne has been raised with the candidates.

Cr Everard said it ultimately comes down to consumer demand, claiming there needs to be full flights between the two cities every time an airline flies.

He said the income required to market in a place like Melbourne required millions and millions which made it unfeasible.

"We can go and knock on the door and ask and ask, they are a law to themselves," Cr Everard said.

"We can get all those planes here, but they have to be full, or the airlines will not come here."

But Mr Schmidt disagreed, saying it was less about the airlines being a law unto themselves and more about "bums on seats."

Mr Pantlin said he would focus on expanding the economy to try and attract the respective airlines.

Mayoral candidate breakfast.
Tony Pantlin. Alistair Brightman

"If we grow the economy in the Fraser Coast, we create an environment that grows the mass of the people that travel on our transport," Mr Pantlin said.

"We have a very low median wage on the Fraser Coast, so it's difficult for people to afford the flights in the return direction.

"What we need do is grow our region and attract people to the area that will use the service, and as our business grows there will be more economics to scale from those flights."

Cr Seymour said the priority was to get flights to Brisbane back to the airport.

"If we could click our fingers and make anything happen, this would be one of the very first things we'd want," Cr Seymour said.

7.55AM: AN attendee has asked the candidates what they think of the potential of a partnership between the education and health precincts in the region.

Here's how your candidates responded:

Mayoral candidate breakfast.
George Seymour Alistair Brightman

George Seymour: "This is a huge area for us, I'm on the committee for the UQ Medical School here in Hervey Bay, so we're bringing a lot of students from all over the state to here.

"In terms of the future development of the CBD, I think it is the education precinct, that's how we'll get young people and vibrancy into the CBD.

"Because we know the highest employment area is health, we need to be training people for aged care, nursing and doctors."

Greg Schmidt: "I won't stand in the way of that at all, because the next generation is our future, we have to train up everyone we can.

Tony Pantlin: "Partnerships with education and health are important, it's an opportunity on the Fraser Coast we can do really well in."

"The issues are around some of the infrastructure and facilities needed for people to attend these facilities, and the course content."

Darren Everard: "What's our best export? Our kids, they have to leave our region for education.

"As a council we have to partner with educators, private health, with everybody."

"It's a transformational project, we get the council chambers down there in the CBD, we get some vibrancy down there."

Paul Forst: "We need the blue collar university here as well, we need trade training centres.

"We need some better trade training, we'd like Maryborough to be the centre for trade training."

Mr Schmidt said he wouldn't stand in the way of it, claiming the next generation would be in dire need of it.

Mr Pantlin said it would be a "huge opportunity" for the region.

Mr Forst said the region also needed "blue collar" education, calling for better trade training for Maryborough.

7.40AM: HERVEY Bay Chamber of Commerce president Sandra Holebrook has asked what the candidates will do about the region's unemployment rate and job creation.

Expanding USC and capitalising on the retirement living market would be the priorities for Cr Seymour, with the former acting mayor saying he had "lost track of the number of businesses that have said they don't feel confident developing here."

"The number one priority for the council moving forward needs to be to become a professional organisation that is seen with respect across the community," Cr Seymour said.

"Two real possible growth areas for economic development are the university for the students, and retirement living, and that's to do with the climate and availability of land.

"By having more retirement villages we can effectively be the Florida of Australia, in terms of our climate, for retirees."

 

Mayoral candidate breakfast.
Greg Schmidt Alistair Brightman

Mr Schmidt said he wanted to see the council take a stand on contracts to ensure contractors weren't competing with each other over development projects.

"I worked on a contract outside of Maryborough, they saved $1 million on traffic management and detoured south of Maryborough, that literally killed Tinana," Mr Schmidt said.

"There needs to be more joint venture contracts so there's not that many contractors going slow."

Cr Everard said businesses wanted to know what the region had to offer, and said more emphasis needs to be placed on "selling" the region.

"My message: we are the Fraser Coast, we're open for business," Cr Everard said.

"The decision-makers in big business are looking all the time, and we have to be ready for them."

Mr Forst said if he was lucky enough to be the mayor, he wanted to introduce "sudden death contracts" to get around cost blowouts.

Mayoral candidate breakfast.
Paul Forst Alistair Brightman

Mr Pantlin said some of the big ticket issues he would advocate for included "the public hospital capacity, Bruce Hwy upgrade, water security for our agriculture and future residential security and the forestry and sugar industry."

"We have to be cohesive and work as a team," Mr Pantlin said.

"I would also promote the growth of the economy by inviting non-job hungry residents, businesses and entrepreneurs to the area.

"By non-job hungry, we won't be putting pressure on the job market."

7.30AM: CANDIDATES have been asked how they would unify "a fractured and divided region" if they were elected mayor.

Mr Pantlin said he would be a proud and passionate mayor and would work to address the unemployment and relevant social issues.

"What you see today and in the past will be me in the future, I don't intend to change and never have," Mr Pantlin said.

"Growing the economy and progressing the community and businesses is number one for me."

Cr Seymour said the Fraser Coast needed a leader who could unite the region.

"We need a leader who is conciliatory, collaborative and has empathy for others," Cr Seymour said.

"It's about what's needed right now, what's needed right into the future."

Mr Forst said he holds no allegiance to anybody and would try to make the Fraser Coast a better place for everybody to leave.

Mr Everard said he would be a "respectful mayor" and wanted to work on "transformational projects" that would bring the region forward.

Mayoral candidate breakfast.
Mayoral candidate breakfast. Alistair Brightman

7.05AM: Hervey Bay's Chamber of Commerce is hosting a Meet the Candidates forum for the upcoming mayoral by-election at Arkarra Tea Gardens.

George Seymour, Darren Everard, Tony Pantlin, Greg Schmidt and Paul Forst are answering questions from voters on a range of issues.

David Dalgleish and Jannean Dean are absent.

The candidates have introduced themselves and given background on how they came to be involved in politics.

More to come.