Last night, ACL held a 'Meet Your Candidate' forum (MYCF) in Queensland's electorate of Longman, which covers much of the Moreton Bay region, including the former Caboolture Shire and some of the former Pine Rivers. Over 110 people attended, many of whom were pastors in the district. The event was supported by the Caboolture District Ministers Network.
The purpose of a MYCF is to give voters the opportunity to meet and question candidates in their electorate about issues of most concern to them, and to gain a greater understanding of their values and priorities so they can make an informed vote. It also gives Christians the opportunity to engage with and contribute to the political process.
Six of the eight candidates for the seat of Longman attended the MYCF:
Wyatt Roy - candidate for the Liberal National Party. At the age of 20, he was the youngest person ever to be elected to an Australian parliament in 2010. Before entering Parliament, he was a strawberry farmer. Mr Roy's main concern in this election is youth unemployment, which has nearly tripled in Longman in the past three years
Will Smith - Family First candidate. He is a Business Development Manager and has served as a committee member on the local Chamber of Commerce. He believes functional families and prospering small businesses is a key to improving the region
Helen Fairweather - The Greens. She is a Senior Lecturer in Environmental Engineering at Sunshine Coast University, and has also been the manager and chief scientist at the Queensland Climate Change Centre for Excellence
Brad Kennedy - candidate for Katter's Australian Party. Mr Kennedy has worked as a licensed Aircraft Engineer for 32 years, and has operated a small business. He is passionate about keeping Australian jobs in the country and believes Australian assets should not be sold to overseas buyers
Clem van der Weegen - Palmer's United Party. He is a former Army Reservist, NSW police officer and high school English and legal studies teacher, and is currently studying for a law degree
Caleb Wells - Independent candidate; a law student
Michael Caisley, candidate for the Labor Party, declined the invitation to attend. No response was received from the Australian Sex Party's candidate.
Each candidate presented a speech to the audience which was followed by a Q & A session moderated by ACL's Queensland Director Wendy Francis.
On the question of marriage, sitting member for Longman Wyatt Roy said the tide had turned in his electorate on the issue. When he was first elected, he said community support for the current definition of marriage was extremely strong but that he has seen a change; he claims now most of the correspondence he receives is in support of changing the marriage definition to include same-sex couples. As a result, he has publicly changed his position on marriage to support redefining it.
One last MYCF will be held in Queensland's electorate of Oxley tomorrow - click here for more details.