Candidates put through their paces in CQUniversity debate
GAZING across the crowd at last night's candidates debate, from the hi-vis miners, to union slogan shirts, green t-shirts, the young and the old, it was obvious that all walks of life were invested in the outcome of the coming federal election.
In addition to the estimated 55 attendees to the CQUniversity lecture theatre to hear the candidates speak, dozens of other curious Morning Bulletin readers tuned in to hear The Greens' Paul Bambrick, Independent Ken Murray, LNP's Michelle Landry, ALP's Russell Robertson and One Nation's Wade Rothery make their cases why they should represent the seat of Capricornia in Canberra.
The candidates didn't have an easy time of things with The Bully's editor Frazer Pearce assembling an extensive list of questions based on the top priority issues identified by an online poll and submissions from readers.
These included tackling cost of living pressures, power prices, support for Adani, increasing the pension payment, transitioning the economy, building community cohesion, social justice, supporting small business, decentralisation and tackling worker exploitation.
Competing against two coal miners, Mr Robertson and Mr Rothery, and strong coal advocate Ms Landry, Greens candidate Paul Bambrick made an impassioned case for the transition of the economy away from fossil fuels towards renewables, to address the problem of climate change before it was too late.
A question from an audience member, on what would happen to Capricornia's thousands of coal jobs and economic prosperity with the lack of jobs at solar farms, had him on the back foot, pointing to the need to re-skill workers.
Mr Bambrick found an ally in Clermont-based Mr Murray who said Queensland could be an energy provider for the country and a solar powerhouse and it was "common sense" to build more and bring power costs down for consumers.
While the ALP, LNP and ONP candidates all acknowledged there was a place for renewables in our energy mix, they threw their weight behind the long term future of coal in our region, saying we needed a sensible transition over time.
The sobering coal issue reared its head in when of the audience questioned whether candidates would support former Mirani MP Jim Pearce's push to have a one cent levee on each tonne of coal to go towards black lung victims.
Each of the candidates backed the proposal with some saying it didn't go far enough and they would like to see even more money levied.
For some people, it was their first opportunity to see the Independent Mr Murray make his case and justify his status as third favourite with the bookies.
His confidence with addressing the crowds and lack of fear in producing contrary opinions was refreshing with one audience member describing him as almost like a "revival church preacher".
There was a bit of humour with Mr Rothery admitting to not being familiar with some of the questions but he ably riffed on his passion projects including the Bradfield Scheme, Gap Dam and the Victoria Park sports and entertainment precinct.