A confident John Cobb told a candidates’ forum yesterday it was very exciting to think that after Saturday, Australia would be heading in a new direction.
He said as challenging as that was, it would bring things back to economic sanity.
The forum, hosted by the Combined Pensioners and Superannuants Association in Bathurst, brought Mr Cobb for the Nationals and his Labor opponent Jess Jennings face to face, along with five of the other seven candidates for Calare.
But the forum delivered nothing approaching a debate to test the candidates’ knowledge of policy, rather it provided a platform for prepared speeches and a handful of questions from an audience of retirees.
This was as close to the debate with Mr Cobb that Dr Jennings was going to get after chasing his opponent since the campaign began.
While Mr Cobb was keen to promote Coalition ideals, he failed to mention any issues specific to Calare.
It was the last opportunity the people of Calare would have to get a look at those wanting to represent them in Federal Parliament.
Mr Cobb was the first of the major party representatives to speak.
“We have to do this for our children’s sake and our grandchildren’s sake,” he told the crowd.
“Calare needs a senior member of the new government, someone who is focused on getting the economy right.”
Mr Cobb said getting rid of the carbon tax was unequivocal and the competition regulator would monitor what the power companies were doing to ensure the money they saved went back to consumers.
Dr Jennings criticised Mr Cobb for not having a local focus, and spoke about his Food and Fibre Plan for Calare, using Simplot as an example.
“We need to know where the opportunities are and how they will be supported in future,” Dr Jennings said.
He also spoke about water security, saying there were good long-term options across the electorate, adding that coal seam gas mining must not be allowed.
“I don’t believe in allowing farmers to go to the wall because their ground water is contaminated,” he said.
Dr Jennings also mentioned energy and forging a tourism brand for Calare and the central west in particular.
“A good, active MP would have done that by now,” he said.
Looking at the national agenda, Dr Jennings said the National Disability Insurance Scheme would not exist if Labor had not been in power. He said $34 million in education funding would be taken away from Calare by the Coalition.
Greens candidate Dr David Mallard said it was good to stand with other candidates at the forum, at the end of a long campaign.
He said over the last couple of decades the Greens had stood for what mattered.
“We need to care for the people living in our communities,” he said.