LNP skips chance to have say at Cairns forum
No-show: This group at yesterday’s forum to hear candidates' views show their disappointment at LNP candidate Gavin King's absence. Picture: TOM LEE
Campbell Newman's candidates in the Far North have been criticised for dodging a community public forum to grill state election hopefuls on issues affecting their electorates.
About 100 people attended the question and answer session at City Place yesterday, but only candidates from Labor and the minor parties returned organisers’ invitations.
Those who fronted the forum were given the first public opportunity of the election campaign to field questions from the community – with health, the environment, education and indigenous affairs most hotly debated.
The LNP’s Cairns candidate Gavin King bore most of the flak for his absence although Michael Trout and David Kempton also were absent. Mr King said he was busy door-knocking, running a street stall and spending time with his family yesterday.
Audience members shouted "Where’s Gavin", and unionists in the crowd had repurposed signs from a 2006 campaign by the Electrical Trades Union that criticised Warren Entsch for snubbing an invitation to debate IR reforms at the time.
Mr King also copped a dig from election rival Darren Hunt, who told the crowd: "The three of us who are from here are here to represent the people and the one person who’s not, well enough said."
The LNP’s northern campaign co-ordinator, Dennis Quick, said the party’s candidates weren’t made to attend and could respond to the invitation individually.
Voters in the audience expressed disappointment at the LNP’s absence, given it was a chance to hear about party policy ahead of the March 24 poll. "I don’t know much about the LNP’s policies, because I think we’ve heard far more from Labor and Katter’s party," said a swinging voter from the seat of Mulgrave. "I’d like to hear about how some important health promises are going to be delivered because I’m happy with the services we have but concerned about waiting times."
Other voters in attendance proved the potential impact of Katter’s Australian Party in marginal Far Northern seats, with one saying: "I wouldn’t mind giving my vote to a minor party and I wouldn’t mind being allowed to shoot flying foxes too."
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