Q AND A: Residents given insights into five Flynn candidates
WITH four days of the federal election campaign remaining, five candidates vying for the marginal seat of Flynn fronted a small crowd to reveal their positions on the big issues.
Five of the eight candidates for Flynn attended the Meet the Candidates event held at Oaks Grand on Tuesday - the Coalition's incumbent MP Ken O'Dowd, Labor's Zac Beers, One Nation's Sharon Lohse and independents Murray Peterson and Duncan Scott.
They were each given five minutes to introduce themselves before they were asked questions by the moderator, GAPDL boss Darryl Branthwaite, and from the floor.
Following the ballot order, second-time candidate Mr Beers was the first to take the microphone
The 28-year-old said Gladstone hadn't clawed itself out of the depths of the aftermath of the Curtis Island LNG boom.
He said Labor knew the importance of building a strong economy.
Mr Peterson followed and reminded residents of a former successful independent candidate who represented Gladstone in the Queensland Government, Liz Cunningham.
"I'm inspired by Liz and how she represented Gladstone free from political parties," he said.
Mr Peterson said there was a need for the government to start making "sensible decisions" about road upgrades and power.
Ms Lohse, a Biggenden third-generation grazier, spoke of her struggles with government bureaucracy as a rural landholder and the depletion of services in rural communities. She said there was a need to increase coal-fired power usage and address the cost of living.
Mr Scott, a five-time independent candidate, was nervous. "I'm a bad speller and I hate public speaking, but I do care," he said.
He said his role as a Monto forest ranger gave him a good understanding of the large Flynn electorate.
Third-term MP Mr O'Dowd responded to the "what has Ken done" signs which have been placed around the region since the election was called.
"I can say I've done lots... I've poured millions into the Bruce Hwy," he said.
"We've had our bridge renewal programs, we've built 29 mobile towers... I've announced funding for an upgrade to Port Access Rd and a cancer centre for Gladstone."
The candidates agreed there was a need for road upgrades and that red tape was negatively affecting small businesses.
But they were divided on climate change, coal-fired power, franking credits and superannuation.
They were asked what should be done to reduce the burning of fossil fuels and how a hydrogen industry could be developed.
Ms Lohse said: "There are three groups of people in this room, a group who believe in climate change, a group who don't and a group who are on the fence".
"I don't believe in climate change... I believe the climate changes."
Ms Lohse said there was a need for more base-load coal-fired power stations to help support the region's economy and create more employment.
She said she was not against renewable energy, and pointed out her property is wholly powered by a mix of solar panels and wind power.
Mr Beers spoke of Labor's commitment to build a $3 million hydrogen innovation hub in Gladstone. He said the region should be ground zero for hydrogen production.
Speaking of coal exports, Mr Beers said the commodity was "not going anywhere" and a transition to new energy sources would be gradual.
"We know when it comes to climate it's time to start moving forward, that's why we've made these investments," he said.
Mr Peterson said that as a clean, non-toxic energy source hydrogen production was a "great idea".
The engineer and high school teacher said more investment was needed to determine how to liquefy it.
Mr O'Dowd said he supported hydrogen production but was sceptical about how long it would take to be viable.
He said there was a need to build a high-efficiency low-emissions coal-fired power station in Queensland.
Labor's proposed policy to remove franking credits has been a key discussion point.
Previous estimates found 5092 Flynn residents receive franking credits and they claim an average of $2700 a year.
Mr Beers said Labor had no plans to change taxation of super, and the party's position on franking credits was clear.
"The change we're putting on the table is removing an entitlement brought in by the Howard Government," he said.
Ms Lohse said One Nation would not "shift the goal posts" for retirees, and Mr O'Dowd agreed.
Mr Scott said he didn't know enough about the issues to comment.
Mr Peterson was in favour of removing franking credits and said superannuation should not be taxed.
The event was hosted by Gladstone Area Promotion Development Limited and Gladstone Chamber of Commerce and Industry.
The Greens' Jaiben Baker, National Conservatives Party's Marcus Hiesler and United Australia Party's Nathan Harris did not attend.