Batemans Bay Meet the Candidates May 4th 2022
Sixty locals attended the "Meet The Major Party Candidates" held at the Batemans Bay Soldiers Club on 4 May 2022. Representing the two major parties were the Member for Gilmore, Fiona Phillips and Liberal candidate Andrew Constance. Following a Welcome to Country by Elder, Auntie Lorretta Parsley, the candidates were welcomed by the event's hosts, the Batemans Bay Chamber of Commerce saying: The Chamber decision for this event was to allow only major party candidates, as both candidates have a history in our area and are familiar with the Chamber.
The Federal or Commonwealth Government is responsible for the conduct of national affairs. Its areas of responsibility include defence and foreign affairs; trade, commerce and currency; immigration; postal services, telecommunications and broadcasting; air travel; most social services and pensions. The Federal Government is also involved, mainly through funding, in many things largely carried out by the States, such as health, education, environmental issues, industrial relations, etc.
Some defining points in our community which frame Chamber interests and questions:
One of the most elderly electorate’s in Australia, with an accelerating increase in medium age. We have rated at 557 out of 563 Shires in Australia for age-dependency-ratio, which simply means we do not have enough younger people to look after older people and maintain a balanced community. We have a net loss of young people and have difficulty retaining young families and young professionals. We have higher unemployment than the state average, yet business has difficulty finding and attracting employees, despite having TAFE and UOW training facilities. We have experienced fires, flood and Covid. Not all businesses have rebuilt with re-insurance being a major problem. Tourism and Aged care are our major industries. We have seen losses and gains in attractions and a reduction in hotel beds. We welcome new public and private infrastructure and hope that essential crossover infrastructure benefitting Tourism and the community is recognised. These infrastructure items are also needed for the retention of young people, young professionals and young families.
The session then began with a Quick overview of National Issues with candidates offered to give a Yes/No/Abstain with time for any qualifying remarks at the end of this section. National Questions – yes/no/abstain (time for any qualifying remarks at the end of the section).
1. Do you favour revision of the need for labourers to be skilled under the 457 Visa programme, to provide temporary workers for unskilled and semi-skilled jobs? FP YES: AC YES
2. Will you support permanent residency to 459 visa holders already in the country? FP YES: AC YES
3. Will you protect Medicare? FP YES: AC YES
4. Will you include dental in Medicare? FP NO: AC YES
5. Will you adequately fund TAFE to address skill shortages? FP YES: AC YES
6. Will you subsidise manufacturing to bring it back on shore? FP YES: AC YES
7. Would you support any plans to increase GST? FP NO: AC NO
8. Do you support any increase in personal tax? FP NO: AC NO
9. Do you support any increase in business tax? FP NO: AC NO
10. Will you support a network of fast EV charges between the ACT, Sydney and the Shire? FP YES: AC YES
11. Do you support high speed rail between the three largest cities on the East coast? FP YES: AC NO
12. Are you committed to net zero emissions by 2050? FP YES: AC YES
13. Do you support toll-free roads on national routes? FP YES: AC YES
14. Will you support an effective Federal ICAC? FP YES: AC YES
15. Do you favour strengthening the powers of the ACCC to address the monopolisation and price gouging of essential goods and services? FP YES: AC YES
16. Will you increase funding and effectiveness for the aged care sector? FP YES: AC YES
17. Will you support a higher percentage increase of GDP for Defence spending? FP YES: AC YES
18. Do you support an increase in foreign aid in the Pacific? FP YES: AC YES
19. Would you actively support the elimination of black spot areas on the Princes and Kings Highway? FP YES: AC YES
20. Do you support introducing complete political donation disclosure? FP YES: AC YES
21. Will you support funding for Energy Storage Systems to provide resilience to critical local communication infrastructure? FP YES: AC YES
Next came the NATIONAL QUESTIONS
· A long-standing theme that major parties use local infrastructure to buy votes at the expense of major infrastructure projects, could be applied to road and rail in this region. This is a concern in populace regions which do not have significant public transport with major city connections. How can this situation be changed?
o It is now more than 2 years since the Black Summer fires burned throughout Gilmore.
o Business NSW, the Federal Small Business Ombudsman and other groups are concerned about insurance availability & affordability in bush fire effected areas.
o Many local businesses viability has been placed in jeopardy. Businesses throughout the East Coast who have never had a claim for 20 to 50 years suddenly have been declined property insurance.
o Premium increases for bushfire cover of more than 1000% have been quoted.
o Excluding bushfire risk, insurers have increased public liability and other risk by significant magnitudes when risk has not changed. This equates to price gouging by a number of insurance companies in bush fire prone areas.
o The current government has refused to support extending the Northern Australian Reinsurance pool for natural disasters to the East Coast of Australia.
o Would you actively support either seeding a Discretionary Mutual Fund or support a reinsurance pool such as the current scheme which operates for flood and cyclone areas?
then the LOCAL QUESTIONS
· Accessible Batemans Bay CBD
o Eurobodalla Shire Council has plans to convert the southern section of the Batemans Bay CBD to be accessible to all. This entails the raising of the footpaths to a level equal to the shop entry levels, to raise the street pavement to a similar height and to provide access between the two for wheelchairs and strollers.
o The ballpark cost of these works is $20M. Will candidates commit to this future expense?
· Will you support funding for the following three infrastructure projects for Council to sponsor?
1. A Multi-use venue to assist retention of young people, young professionals and young families and tourism? People complain about lack of indoor activities, entertainment and sport facilities e.g. 1 indoor basketball court for over 20,000 people, Loss of No 1 Tripadvisor activity and other shortages. These issues would be addressed by a large format multi use space for national touring events, trade shows, art and performance space, school events, indoor sporting events and possible dual use as an evacuation and emergency facility.
2. A splash pad to compliment the inclusive playground at Corrigans Reserve?
3. A 50m salt water pool?
4. Underwater Sculpture site to compliment the Batemans Bay Sculpture Walk, this has already received state support in principle and has been advanced with marine authorities?
What are your parties plans to ensure that all business has reliable NBN coverage?
Fireproofing critical infrastructure at Mount Wandera. Eurobodalla Council has proposed replacing timber power poles with fireproof poles at a cost of $750,000. Would you support funding for these poles and back-up power?
Questions were then opened to members of the public.