Residents get to meet candidates


THE candidates aiming to win the seat of Gladstone finally went head-to-head this morning.

At the GAPDL Meet the Candidates Breakfast this morning, the four candidates put their wares on show in front of an audience of about 65 people.

Independent member for Gladstone Liz Cunningham, Labor candidate Glenn Butcher, LNP candidate Russell Schroter and Katter's Australian Party candidate Anthony Beezley all appeared.

Greens Candidate Andrew Blake, who is based in Brisbane, declined to attend.

Those hoping for fiery argument would have been disappointed, as candidates were open in their respect for each other.

The forum gave candidates the opportunity to each make an opening speech of 5 minutes. After that, a Question & Answer session was held, in which questions from the audience were answered by all four candidates.

The hot topics were Gladstone hospital, the housing crisis, roads, economic management and State government's relationship with Gladstone Regional Council.

For many in the audience, it was the first chance to see firsthand how the candidates shaped up under the spotlight.

The Observer recorded the speeches of all candidates, so this is your chance to hear for yourself what they had to say.

For full analysis, be sure to read tomorrow's edition of The Observer.

What the candidates said...


Liz Cunningham

Liz Cunningham touched on the topics she has been campaigning on for years.

She said she had been told the completed LNG projects on Curtis Island and upstream would bring in $850 million per year to the state's coffers. She said with that kind of revenue coming out of the region, it was only logical that the government should be investing more in infrastructure for the region.

She spoke about healthcare in the region and said the Government's plan for improving Gladstone Hospital would be too little too late.

On the housing crisis, she said: "We need affordable housing. The government talks about affordable housing at the ULDA (projects), but that is only for people who can afford to purchase houses.

"There continues to be a growing need for affordable rentals and that would be addressed through Queensland Housing."

She believes there was plenty of time for government to construct rental accommodation in the lead up to the LNG boom, but that opportunity was missed.

Mrs Cunningham said she wanted clear answers on what is happening in Gladstone Harbour.


Russell Schroter

LNP candidate Russell Schroter said: "There is an urgent need for a seismic shift in Queensland politics

He believes Queenslanders have "lost trust" in the Labor Government to manage the state, after Premier Anna Bligh had "lied" about several policies.

In particular, he said Queenslanders no longer trusted Labor to manage the economy, after the $200 million health payroll "debacle" and with government debt reaching new levels.

Mr Schroter also criticised the government's personal attacks on LNP leader Campbell Newman as evidence they could not rely on their track record to win the election on March 24.

He said Campbell Newman's "Four Pillars" policy plan was aimed at restoring the state by focusing on; resources sector; small business; the tourism sector; and the agriculture sector


Glenn Butcher

Labor candidate Glenn Butcher found himself in the hot seat this morning, as the other three candidates took turns to analyse and cut down the current Labor government.

The man who hopes to become part of a Labor Government if he (and his party) are successful at the election said he wanted to be part of the future of the region.

He outlined his experience as a worker at QAL, an administrator in local rugby league/

He said he wanted to see Gladstone returned to being a "positive" place, after what he described as a period of negative publicity.

He promised to provide the seat of Gladstone with "positive, energetic  representation" in the State Parliament.

He agreed that the situation for healthcare in the region needed attention and promised that he would be "knocking on the doors" to have the current Blueprint for Gladstone Hospital brought forward.

He said he also wanted to see more state-owned housing established in Gladstone.

Mr Butcher argued that if Gladstone was represented by a member of government, rather than an independent, they would receive a stronger hearing in the decision-making process.


Anthony Beezley

The candidate for Katter's Australian Party, Anthony Beezley, outlined his background working with disadvantaged youth in various locations around Queensland. He said his professional background showed where his priorities.

He outlined his concerns about people in Gladstone being forced to leave town because of the rising cost of living. He said he had spoken to parents and grandparents who were sad to see their children moving away because they could no longer afford to stay.

He described it as the breaking up of "family dynasties"

Mr Beezley said he wanted to see some form of subsidy introduced to make it more financially viable for lower income workers to stay in Gladstone. He said that would be a radical measure, but the desperate nature of the situation meant radical measures were needed.

Mr Beezley wanted to see more forward planning for the region, rather than "knee jerk reactions" from the government to every problem that arose.


For analysis of the event read the March 16 edition of The Observer.



Topics:  gladstone meet the candidates poll state election

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