Meet The Candidates in Ballina

Hosted by the Ballina Christian Church, the Australian Christian Lobby and the Ballina and Districts Ministers Association, questions at last weeks Ballina Meet the Candidates forum reflected the concerns of these constituents.

Community and the environment were common themes.

The first question of the night was about violence against non-Muslims.

The four candidates were also asked about where they stood on civil unions for same-sex couples.

Ballina MP, Nationals Don Page said he had no difficulty with same-sex relationships but not marriage.

Marriage is between a man and a woman, he said.

ALP candidate Melanie Doriean said she agreed with Don Page, and the Australian Democrats Ben Smith said he agreed with both Melanie and Don, adding that the Democrats were about choice.

The Greens candidate John Bailey said they celebrated the diversity of sexuality amongst people.

Following last weeks media furore regarding his partys drug policy, the first question directed at John Bailey was from someone wanting to know why The Greens were promoting the legalisation of ice.

The questioner is obviously a Daily Telegraph reader, Mr Bailey said. The Greens are against illegal drug use and we want to crack down on dealers and supplies.

He said the current ice epidemic had occurred during the governments war on drugs which obviously wasnt working.

The Greens consider drug addiction to be a health issue, he said.

Melanie Doriean was asked when the Alstonville Bypass was going to happen, at which point there was laughter from the audience.

I cant give you an answer (about when the bypass will be built), she said. But if elected I will fight for the bypass.

At this point Don Page jumped in and said if the Coalition was elected work on the bypass would start this year.

To a question about the construction of water storage dams in NSW John Bailey replied that dams were a 1950s solution to a problem of today.

Given the reality of climate change, the solution to water shortages is no more coal mines, he said.

Melanie Doriean said Labor would construct a desalination plant which ran on renewable energy.

On the question of Industrial Relations, Don Page said it was commonly believed that The Coalition would hand over state industrial relation laws to the Commonwealth.

This is true, he said. Except in the case of state employees.

In summing up his position, Don Page said there were two challenges facing the electorate to make sure we keep this place beautiful and to make sure services are meeting demand.

Good planning is essential. There will be no high rise, he said. And we need to get our fair share of funding.

John Bailey said The Greens policies were not extreme they were mainstream.

The Greens policies are reasonable and 15 years ahead of everyone else, he said. We were talking about climate change 20 years ago.

Melanie Doriean said Workchoices legislation was a key issue.

We have to plan for future growth, she said. High rise is not an option for future housing.

Ben Smith said maintaining the environment and planning for sustainable growth was important.

We need to maintain our sense of community and the family unit, he said.

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