Election forums in Brisbane – Seniors & Chamber of Commerce

Having stood as a candidate many times before (six times, for anyone wanting to know), I’m used to the plethora of candidates forums which occur during the election period.  Except for very large events, I doubt these shift many votes, but I believe they can be an important mechanism for exposing candidates to the views of concerned and engaged constituents.

Because my two main opponents on this occasion have also served over ten years in the Parliament, it has meant that the forums we have done together have tended to be of a reasonable standard. In recent weeks the three of us have spoken at forums for the National Seniors Association and the Valley Chamber of Commerce.

The National Seniors forum was the first of a series held by that organisation, and they used it to launch their log of claims for the federal election.  There was a reasonable amount of media there, and although the forum itself didn’t appear to generate any stories, some of the good policy ideas of the seniors have got a run.

The Valley Chamber of Commerce forum got a bit of a run in this story in The Brisbane Times. I did a similar forum last night at the Brisbane Inner West Chamber of Commerce, which was notably different in the type of audience and the nature of the questions. The LNP candidate, Teresa Gambaro, didn’t attend this one, although as a joint forum for Ryan candidates, the former LNP, now Independent candidate for Ryan, Michael Johnson was present. Leaving aside the policy content of what he said, he did make a big point of portraying himself as being representative of the ‘L’ part of the LNP.

For once, I managed to remember to record my speeches to these.  You can hear my opening and closing comments to the Seniors forum at this link and my Valley Chamber of Commerce speech at this link (which happened to be on my birthday, just to give some context to my opening remarks) (and was held as part of a lunch, just to explain all the clinking in the background).

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  1. I think many people think their vote is worthless and they make their mind up from the time they have their name marked off the roll and the time they pick up the pencil.

  2. I attended the forum of the National Seniors of Australia (of which I am a member) in the Seat of Ryan. The Labor Party candidate failed to turn up, which was a shame.

    I asked 5 questions about Aged Care and got no real answers at all. The incumbent (Liberal kickout now running as an independent) turned most people off with his grandstanding, while mostly claptrap poured out of his mouth.

    But here’s what really turned me off. Certain members of the NSA who are superannuants didn’t give a stuff about the plight of people living in aged care. Even the President made a point of saying that only 10% of elderly people end up in aged care.

    One man said: “I have my interests, and you have yours, and so on.”

    I replied: “Surely we should be trying to make things better for the whole society.”

    Several people looked thoughtful, but said nothing.

    People attending the forum raised various interesting ideas on how taxes might be collected, including one that was said to have come from Noel Whittaker, which seemed to rely wholly on transaction fees.

    The Liberal kickout suggested taxing only income over $80,000 for all taxpayers. He said we would spend more and that would provide the required revenue. (The lady from The Greens and I exchanged glances.)

    The forum in the Seat of Brisbane, “Make Poverty History”, was certainly handled a lot better by experienced people.

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