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Debate delivers political passion from Rocky's candidates

Some fifty people turned out to hear the candidate present their case for election at the candidates forum at CQ University.
Some fifty people turned out to hear the candidate present their case for election at the candidates forum at CQ University. Chris Ison ROK211117cforum2

DESPITE the lights cutting out multiple times throughout the evening, there were plenty of highlights in last night's Rockhampton candidates debate.

More than 50 people flocked to CQUniversity to see the four candidates, LNP's Douglas Rodgers, Labor's Barry O'Rourke, One Nation's Wade Rothery and independent Margaret Strelow, share their perspectives on tackling some of the big issues for Central Queensland.

Each candidate had the opportunity to lay out their platforms and win over the crowd during their opening introductions before getting down to the nitty gritty of The Morning Bulletin readers' questions, which traversed some of the critical issues for the election campaign.

L-R: Rockhampton candidates Wade Rothery (One Nation), Margaret Strelow (Independent), Barry O'Rourke (ALP), and Douglas Rodgers (LNP) at the candidates forum at CQ University.
L-R: Rockhampton candidates Wade Rothery (One Nation), Margaret Strelow (Independent), Barry O'Rourke (ALP), and Douglas Rodgers (LNP) at the candidates forum at CQ University. Chris Ison ROK211117cforum1

The candidates were quizzed on how they would combat rising power prices, drive employment and if they would rule out public service job cuts, support for education funding for CQ including construction of a Gracemere high school, support the South Rockhampton levee project and whether the airport levee was a greater priority and discuss their road infrastructure priorities.

Throughout the evening each of the candidates revealed more of themselves, with Ms Strelow coming across as dominant and self assured, Mr O'Rourke was personable yet dependent upon his notes, Mr Rodgers was across the issues and unafraid to stoke confrontation and Mr Rothery was down to earth but almost too succinct when discussing the issues.

Talking about high power prices having a very real impact on businesses and the local economy, Mr Rodgers was interrupted by the lights cutting out and without missing a beat he said "see, this is what happens” to the dark room.

Douglas Rodgers (LNP) at the candidates forum at CQ University.
Douglas Rodgers (LNP) at the candidates forum at CQ University. Chris Ison ROK211117cforum3

He hammered Labor's Mr O'Rourke on the leaked secret report citing a potential water supply crisis if Rookwood Weir wasn't built and dared Mr O'Rourke to answer a question without his notes.

To his credit, political newbie Mr O'Rourke has grown in confidence in his role as a political candidate and although largely sticking to the script, he was most at home talking about his experiences helping people through tough times and reminding people about the Newman government's toxic legacy for the region.

With the former Rockhampton MP Bill Byrne experiencing a testy working relationship with Capricornia MP Michelle Landry, the candidates were asked if they would have any problems working with the local member.

Mr O'Rourke said as a senior public servant he was well versed in getting along with all politicians and would focus on achieving outcomes for the region, pledging to find common ground and get results.

Barry O'Rourke (ALP) at the candidates forum at CQ University.
Barry O'Rourke (ALP) at the candidates forum at CQ University. Chris Ison ROK211117cforum5

He said people were "sick of the bickering”.

Ms Strelow revealed that despite being at odds with Ms Landry in the past, she revealed that she had received two phone calls from the member during her campaign making sure she was alright.

As the stood-aside mayor, it was unsurprising that Margaret Strelow had a firm command of every issue raised during the debate.

With her trusty Krummies breadcrumbs nearby, she once again pushed hard to be given the opportunity to represent Rockhampton's interests in state parliament to deliver more than bread- crumbs, noting the effective work Liz Cunningham had done as an independent in Gladstone.

Margaret Strelow (Independent) at the candidates forum at CQ University.
Margaret Strelow (Independent) at the candidates forum at CQ University. Chris Ison ROK211117cforum6

In a hilarious moment, a member of the audience questioned Ms Strelow on how she directed her preference on her own voting form given her blank how to vote forms - that questioner was revealed as Mr O'Rourke's campaign manager.

Mr Rothery was blunt and to the point when answering his questions.

As someone who likes to do his research and listen to the will of the people, he pitched himself as the protest vote for those who were disillusioned with the major parties who wished to up-end the status quo.

Wade Rothery (One Nation)  at the candidates forum at CQ University.
Wade Rothery (One Nation) at the candidates forum at CQ University. Chris Ison ROK211117cforum7

He was most comfortable talking about knocking 20 per cent off people's power bills, challenging Adani's job figures and joining Ms Strelow in pushing for a Gap Dam feasibility study.

He said governments needed to start from the basics again to helping families to pay for sporting memberships by keeping the cost of living down.

If you would like to see how the candidates handled each of the readers' questions in the debate, read our full debate summary here: DEBATE RECAP: Rocky candidates go head-to-head on big issues

Topics:  barry o'rourke candidates debate candidates forum douglas rodgers margaret strelow qldeelction2017 tmbelection2017 wade rothery



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