Candidates Joy Ringrose (Greens), Gordon Dale (Katter's Australian Party), Steve Anderson (Palmer United Party), Lucy Stanton (Labor) and Warren Truss (LNP) at the election forum in Maryborough.
Candidates Joy Ringrose (Greens), Gordon Dale (Katter's Australian Party), Steve Anderson (Palmer United Party), Lucy Stanton (Labor) and Warren Truss (LNP) at the election forum in Maryborough. Robyne Cuerel

Wide Bay candidates tackle hospital, jobless, roads issues

JOBS, roads and hospital services were the major issues for a pool of passionate voters at the Fraser Coast Chronicle's Wide Bay election forum in Maryborough.

The forum was held at the Brolga Theatre on Tuesday night and attracted a crowd that applauded calls to save Maryborough Hospital and address the region's high unemployment rate.

The five candidates to speak at the forum were sitting LNP member Warren Truss, Labor candidate Lucy Stanton, PUP candidate Steve Anderson, KAP candidate Gordon Dale and Greens candidate Joy Ringrose.

We present their responses to some questions at the forum.

  • Will you commit funds to the Fraser Coast's three main infrastructure projects (Mary Marina, Aviation & Sport and Recreation precinct)? If so, how much? If not, what are your plans to fix the Fraser Coast's job crisis?

Warren Truss, LNP: Mr Truss stressed the marine precinct project in Granville was the only one in the Wide Bay electorate. He said if the council could demonstrate it would attract jobs, and not just residential development, he would definitely support the project. "It has not even been submitted to the government yet for any kind of assessment," he said. "It's really too early to make that kind of commitment." He said the LNP would have a commitment to funding growth in low socio-economic electorates such as the Wide Bay.

Lucy Stanton, ALP: Mrs Stanton said she would absolutely support the projects but was not in a position to commit to funding. "I would be behind any project that would bring jobs into this area, because it is something I know we desperately need," she said.

Steve Anderson, PUP: Mr Anderson said he had quite lengthy conversations to PUP leader Clive Palmer about the marine precinct. "I'll throw my full support behind that, I guarantee it," he said. He also stressed Hervey Bay and Maryborough were economically linked and full support would be given for each project.

Gordon Dale, KAP: Mr Dale said the marine precinct was a good project but said it was tricky to figure out funding. He said all three major projects would network with each other and had full support from his party. Mr Dale said jobs and infrastructure were the most important thing for this region given the 10% unemployment. "To have a frontbench member sitting here with the at sort of statistics is bordering on embarrassment," he said.

Joy Ringrose, Greens: Ms Ringrose spoke about youth unemployment and free trade instead of the three major projects. She said the region needed long-term industries rather then short term projects. Ms Ringrose said manufacturing needed to be revived.

  • What are your plans for the Maryborough Hospital?

Gordon Dale: While it was a state issue rather than a federal one, he urged the community to fight for the hospital. He spoke on federal funding for a mental health unit that was refused by the State Government. "I don't want to see Maryborough Base Hospital drop off the planet," he said.

Joy Ringrose: Mrs Ringrose said she would call for all services that had been stripped to be reinstated at Maryborough Base Hospital. She said the LNP state government was trying to force people into using private hospitals by degrading public hospitals. "Maryborough has doubled its population in recent years and yet it has lost hospital beds," she said.

Warren Truss: Mr Truss said the number of admissions had massively increased. He said it suffered significantly under health cuts made by the Labor government. He said Maryborough had not doubled its population. He said the LNP was not moving towards private hospitals and spoke about the closure of St Stephen's Hospital. He said he wanted to rescue the private hospital services in Maryborough. "We don't want to see them lost to Hervey Bay," he said.

Lucy Stanton: Mrs Stanton spoke on Labor's health policies. She said the government has provided unprecedented funding to public hospitals.

Steve Anderson: "I've got personal issues with Maryborough Base Hospital," he said. "I marched to save that hospital many years ago, as did a large percentage of this community." He said the community did not want to see the hospital r services downgraded. He said his mother had been admitted to a ward that was overcrowded.

  • How will you reduce the cost of living on the Fraser Coast?

Joy Ringrose: Mrs Ringrose said she would tackle the rising cost of living by attempting to reduce the market share of Australia's two major supermarket chains.

"Food is the most basic of items," she said. "The middle man is the one making all the money off food at the moment."

Warren Truss: Mr Truss said the most important thing an LNP Government would do to reduce the cost of living would be to get rid of the carbon tax. "As a result, electricity prices will fall, so will the cost of bringing goods and services to communities like our own," he said.

Lucy Stanton: Mrs Stanton spoke on Labor policies such as the schoolkids bonus. "That's going out to about 10,000 families in the Wide Bay area." She said Labor would remove the carbon tax and move to an emissions trading scheme. She said Labor had a good track record of delivering savings in the cost of living to families.

Steve Anderson: Mr Anderson said a PUP government would also remove the carbon tax. "We will also rebate you what you paid to date," he said. He said PUP would also reduce the income tax by 15%. He said red tape also needed to be cut, while a zone tax system would encourage industry in the Wide Bay.

Gordon Dale: Mr Dale said reserves should be set aside of coal and gas to fund cheaper prices for electricity. He said the KAP would also abolish the carbon tax. Mr Dale said ethanol would become a bigger fuel source for cars to provide jobs and cut cost of living.

Who turned up at the forum?

  • Warren Truss, LNP
  • Lucy Stanton, ALP
  • Joy Ringrose, Greens
  • Gordon Dale, KAP
  • Steve Anderson, PUP

Absent

  • Grace Dickins, Rise Up Australia Party
  • John Chapman, Family First


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