Passion shines among Fisher electorate's minor candidates
WITH a full moon, a room full of Christians, a young candidate with a criminal past and a sitting MP facing cabcharge fraud charges, it was always going to be an interesting night.
Nine of the 10 candidates vying for votes in the blue-ribbon LNP seat of Fisher poured out their hearts and souls on Tuesday night as they sought to curry favour with some of the Coast's most conservative voters.
Gay marriage, asylum seekers, coal seam gas, the Bruce Highway, unemployment, moral decline, school chaplains, mental health, the rights of parents and principals to discipline their children - they were all discussed.
While the seat is being seen primarily as a battle between arch enemies Peter Slipper and Mal Brough, the passion and intelligence of the minor party candidates impressed many.
Jarreau Terry, the youngest candidate, spoke well about the future of Australia's youth as he confessed to spending time behind bars for driving the getaway car in an armed home invasion.
He said he had made mistakes - but that was six years ago - and since then he had turned his life around.
"I really wanted to make up for what I did six years ago,'' he said, speaking with passion about energy re-use products he had created and the need for job opportunities on the Coast for young people.
Peter Slipper, who arrived late, was keen to talk about his more distant past - as an altar boy. Despite having hit the national headlines over sending sexually charged text messages to his gay staffer James Ashby, Mr Slipper spoke at length of the need to protect Australia's Christian values.
He defended his record of 20 years in getting funding and infrastructure for the Coast, including the university and the Bruce Highway upgrade, and vowed to fight to keep the state Sunshine Coast University Hospital in public hands.
Mal Brough "despaired" at the direction Australia was heading, referring to the alcohol problems and child abuse in Aboriginal communities and also in mainstream society.
He also took the opportunity to again defend his role in assisting James Ashby, the staffer who lodged a sexual harassment case against Mr Slipper that was later thrown out on for being an "abuse of process".
Mr Brough said he was only helping Mr Ashby, would do so again and believed he would be vindicated in an upcoming appeal.
Family First candidate Tony Moore had the most emotionally charged opening. The former child safety officer said he was not interested in politics until four years ago when he met a young girl who had been abused by every man she knew.
"Every man in her life had failed her,'' Mr Moore said of the girl.
Despite working in child safety, he became frustrated with failures of the system and bureaucratic indifference.
The Palmwoods man said he was passionate about protecting children, pointing out there were 8000 kids in Queensland who would not be "sleeping in their own beds" because of abuse and neglect.
Rise Up Australia candidate Rod Christensen, 67, who was born in Bundaberg, said Australia was crying out for statesmen and women, before he went on to read from the party's policies.
He denied the party was another Pauline Hanson One Nation or "white Australia" party, but later went on to talk of the dangers of immigration while discussing his stance on asylum seekers.
An Army officer for 20 years, Garry Claridge said he became involved in politics after seeing the people power struggle of Maleny residents against Woolworths.
The Greens' candidate said the party stood for a sustainable environment and economy and grassroots politics.
Mr Claridge spoke passionately about the need for Australian politicians to start looking after small business and families rather than big corporations.
Labor's Bill Gissane said at heart he was a democrat who enjoyed the opportunity to learn what people wanted.
He said while the LNP supported individualism, Labor believed in the common good.
"We can believe that we achieve more together than as individuals,'' he said.
Katter Australia Party candidate Mark Meldon outlined his business experience, including his work as a rural bank manager who had, at times, looked after 200 staff.
Mr Meldon won support when he spoke of the decline in moral standards, pointing back to the days when hotels closed at 10pm.
He also spoke out against poker machines, deploring the failure of moves to limit poker machine losses to $1200 a day because of the opposition of hotel owners such as Woolworths.
Bill Schoch, of the Palmer United Party, said he was "standing because of a fellow called Clive Palmer".
The manager of Clive Palmer's Coolum resort said his boss was "into increasing wealth" and believed all Australians would benefit if they had a better government.
Tony Moore, Family First: Costs of living reduced, a future for young people, better job prospects for Coast
Mark Meldon, Katter's Australian Party: Employment, upgrade of Bruce Highway, stop importation of overseas production destroying local farms.
Bill Gissane, ALP: Be a fierce representative for Fisher so Canberra notices the Coast, fight to keep Sunshine Coast University Hospital in public hands
Garry Clarridge, Australian Greens: Fight for small business and families, and get people engaged in grassroots politics
Rod Christensen, Rise Up Australia: Bruce Highway upgrade and Sippy Downs exit points, employment, small business, getting rid of payroll tax.
Mal Brough, LNP: Honesty in debate. Develop a Coast team approach to getting funding involving MPs and council, Jarreau Terry, Independent: Reducing cost of living, encouraging manufacturing, innovation, employment for young.
Peter Slipper, Independent: Upgrading Bruce Highway, fast tracking NBN to Coast, fighting to keep Sunshine Coast University Hospital as Queensland Health-owned and operated.
Bill Schoch, Palmer United Party: $400 million upgrade of Sunshine Coast Airport to create billions of dollars in new tourism jobs, support for casino for international tourists as part of $2.5 billion resort development at Coolum, maintaining public ownership of university hospital at Kawana.
Mark Maguire, Independent: Did not attend the forum.
Note: A sub-editing error in the Daily incorrectly titled this as the Fairfax seat. It is of course, Fisher, as stated in the article.