Rural residents upset that a house for youth-at-risk will be set up near their properties proved the hot topic of the night when they sought answers from state election candidates at a forum on Thursday.
A group of about 10-15 people from the Millthorpe area, who are concerned welfare group Marist180 will be able to establishing the home without needing council approval or community consultation under state government legislation, attended the meeting at the CWA Hall ahead of the March 23 state poll.
Member for Orange Phil Donato, who sold his property via a real estate agent to Marist180 earlier this year, was not present at the meeting, saying he had a prior electoral engagement in Parkes.
I can't be in two places at once. I'm not going to ask people to change the date just to suit me.Member for Orange Phil Donato
"I can't be in two places at once. I'm not going to ask people to change the date just to suit me," he said on Friday.
Instead Nationals candidate Kate Hazelton and Australian Conservatives candidate Garry McMahon were asked if they would seek to change the legislation which allows such homes with less than 10 beds to be established without council planning approval.
Mr McMahon said he had "some support" for the residents.
"People should be given respect, at least at being able to have an input into what's going to happen [with] a residential facility," he said.
Kate Hazelton said the legislation would have to be looked at.
"I believe you do have a grievance about this particular issue, there could be further investigations," she said.
"I do agree that Mr Donato should here today. He is the MP. If you do have an issue it should be taken up with him."
Country Labor candidate Luke Sanger asked if the residents' view would be different if it was a bed and breakfast, however, he was criticised by members of the audience.
"Thank you for answering a question I didn't even ask you," one person said.
VIDEO: Responses to a question from Dr Steve Peterson …
The candidates backed a call for better rail transport for Orange but were divided over allowing pill testing at music festivals
They were also split over whether shooting should be taught in schools.
Mrs Hazelton said she was opposed to it but Mr Sanger said it might be acceptable for students over 16.
"If it's a school environment it's no different to archery," he said.
"It's the same as surfing. They send kids out into the surf where there are sharks. Every sport has an element of danger."
Greens candidate Stephen Nugent also opposed it, as did Mr McMahon.
However Independent candidate Terri Ann Baxter backed the idea.
"I want to introduce cadets into schools and part of that is 13-18 [years] and whatever the regulations are [about] to actually manage firearms, for parades, for the Anzacs," she said.
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