Candidates questioned

COAL seam gas was a hot topic for five of the region’s nine federal election candidates who were questioned at a Meet the Candidates forum at Caroona Hall on Friday.

The Greens’ Pat Schultz, independents Rob Taber and Jamie McIntyre, the Citizens’ Electoral Council candidate Richard Witten and Country Labor’s Stephen Hewitt took part in the question and answer session hosted by the Caroona Coal Action group.

Greens’ Senate candidate and anti-coal seam gas activist Penny Blatchford was also there to answer questions.

Absent from the forum were Nationals’ Barnaby Joyce, One Nation’s Brian Dettman, Palmer United Party’s Phil Girle and the Christian Democratic Party’s Aaron Evans.

Coal seam gas and mining-related issues dominated the agenda from a majority farming-based audience on the Liverpool Plains.

Jamie McIntyre’s suggestion of a bond or levy from extraction companies to “put their money where their mouth is”, raised further questions.

Stephen Hewitt said each individual farmer should have the right to “Lock the Gate” when asked “Would he promote the right for landholders to say no to extraction companies?”

Rob Taber agreed land use should be decided by the people not extraction companies.

An increase of health services in rural areas was a pressing issue for Pat Schultz and Roger Witten wants to further the development of the nation, separating merchant from commercial banking, stating “wealth is not money”.

Audience members also asked the candidates how each of them proposed to be an effective voice in parliament.

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