PLEASE EXPLAIN: Backlash over Pauline Hanson event
THE region's peak lobby group has been forced to explain, and delay, its move to launch a political series with one of the country's most divisive leaders.
Toowoomba and Surat Basin Enterprise pushed back its Political Leaders Series to a date yet to be fixed after backlash from the group's members forced it into damage control yesterday afternoon.
Several members including some who hold positions on the board were left reeling from the decision to launch the series with One Nation leader Senator Pauline Hanson, The Chronicle understands.
Some questioned the politics of the sessions and the choice of guest speaker.
TSBE executive chairman Shane Charles said the series had been delayed to "mid-year" in order to host both Sen. Hanson and One Nation state party leader Steve Dickson, and to allow more consultation with members and the wider community.
Mr Charles defended the political series despite the backlash, hailing the series as one "aimed at state-based issues in the lead-up to the state election".
"In the lead-up to the state election, we feel there is huge interest in this series but that it needs to be met with an even playing field," Mr Charles said.
"To do this we will take questions from our members ahead of time to be answered by all parties.
"We thank the community and our members for sharing their feedback with us to build a greater event."
TSBE announced the One Nation session would be the first in a series that would hear political platforms for the Toowoomba and wider Surat regions as the next election loomed.
But the series drew into question TSBE's claim it was "apolitical" with an online poll on The Chronicle suggesting the majority of readers believed it was not the group's role to organise political forums.
TSBE bills itself as "an independent business-driven organisation".
Toowoomba Regional Council, in 2014, committed $450,000 every year over three years towards the organisation.