‘Healthy debate’ at forum

Heidi Kraak

A Meet the candidates event held in Morwell on Tuesday night highlighted that most candidates for the seat of Morwell want the same thing but have different methods of achieving it, Latrobe City Business Tourism Association chair Peter Ceeney said.

Hosted by LCBTA, Advance Morwell, Committee for Gippsland, Committee for Moe, Traralgon Chamber of Commerce and Gippsland Regional Executive Forum, the members-only event gave the business community a chance to grill candidates for the seat of Morwell on everything from job creation to candidates’ energy policies.

Present at the event were Nationals candidate Sheridan Bond, Greens candidate Dan Caffrey, Liberal candidate Dale Harriman, Shooters and Fishers candidate Ricky Muir, Labor candidate Mark Richards and independents Ray Burgess, Tracie Lund and Christine Sindt.

Member for Morwell Russell Northe was also present, although the incumbent has not yet declared whether he will run at the upcoming election.

Though robust debate may have been lacking, Mr Ceeney said the evening represented a good opportunity for the business community to get to know the candidates.

“The real standout for me was that, in general, they all support the same result, they just have different ways of getting there,” he said.

“One of the big [topics for the night] was collaboration, how the major parties should collaborate and work together for the better of our community and not for the betterment of their longevity. That came out a couple of times and considered really important.

“There was some healthy debate, but it wasn’t snarky – it was very professionally done.”

Mr Ceeney said each candidate was allocated five minutes to speak followed by discussion and questions from the floor.

“They were talking about everything from greenhouse effects, alternative energy sources … quite a variety of things,” he said.

“All the speakers spoke really well. You get a lot of negativity about politicians and potential politicians, but I think we are lucky to have so many highly qualified people who put their hands up to represent us.”