Hindmarsh Shire Council invited the candidates running in the forthcoming federal election to present their case to the Hindmarsh community at Nhill on Monday night.
Most of the current nominated candidates attended the forum facilitated by Jessica Grimble, editor of the Wimmera Mail Times.
The evening was well attended with around 100 people came to listen to each candidates presentation.
Candidates that attended were: The Nationals-Anne Webster, Science Party-Leigh Firman, Labor-Carole Hart, Independent-Ray Kingston, Citizens Electoral Council-Chris Lahy, United Australia-Rick Millar, Independent-Cecilia Moar and Independent -Jason Modica. Liberal-Serge Petrovich and Greens-Nicole Rowan did not attend the evening.
Hindmarsh Shire Mayor Cr Ron Ismay opened the evening and introduced Ms Grimble.
Cr Ismay said the initiative for the forum came about when one candidate requested to meet with council to promote their candidacy.
“We decided that council was not the place to be politically influenced by any one political viewpoint, so we decided that we will give all the candidates an opportunity to have their say to the whole community,” said Cr Ismay.
Each candidate was given three minutes to talk about their campaign, followed by a question and answer opportunity. They were given one minute to answer the questions put to the panel.
Leigh Firman was the first to address the audience. His said his policies were about road and rail, getting the Horsham bypass completed, a dual carriageway to Bordertown for the Western Highway, building a passenger air terminal at Horsham, communications and tourism.
He was followed by the Labor candidate Carole Heart who spoke about Labor policy on climate change. Ray Kingstons talk was about he being local and the successes he has enjoyed in local government. He spoke about being the independent voice for the Mallee and his passion for the Wimmera.
Chris Lahy spoke about attracting youth back to rural areas, development of the rail loop around Victoria and the Murray Darling Basin.
Rick Millar said the Mallee is a neglected seat and spoke about 20 percent of taxes collected returned to rural areas outside a 200 kilometre radius of major populated centres. He also had concerns over foreign ownership of farming land.
Jason Modica was keen to get more for the Mallee and suggested that more collaboration was needed between government and communities.
Dr Anne Webster had concerns for healthcare and infrastructure in the Mallee and was keen to see better services to the Mallee.
Questions from the floor
Ms Grimble then opened the floor for questions, allowing one minute for the candidates to answer.
The first question was directed to Ray Kingston on how he can afford to run his campaign?
Mr Kingston said, “it is a huge commitment to run as a candidate, I have been supported with donations, contributed some of my own money and I am running a grassroots campaign getting around and meeting people.”
Cr Rob Gersch asked about the distributions of money to local councils. All the candidates were keen to see a better way for councils to be funded.
VFF President David Jochinke asked, what will be your legacy if you are elected.
Leigh Firman said, “roads rail and the air terminal.”
Ray Kingston said, “change how we have been seen.”
Rick Millar said, “break the cycle of bad government.”
Jason Modica said, “see three levels of government work together.”
Carole Heart, “climate change and to see children stay in their communities.”
Chris Lahy, “keep farmers on their properties.”
Dr Anne Webster said, “you will remember I was your local member.”
The evening finished with supper and a chance to meet the candidates and discuss their policies. A few of the candidates had campaigners attending to assist with answering questions.