On Tuesday 20th August, ACL conducted a 'Meet Your Candidate' forum (MYCF) in the electorate of Fisher, Queensland. The electorate includes towns such as Caloundra, Mooloolaba, Woodford and Maleny. Approximately 150 people attended.
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 on election day. It also gives Christians the opportunity to engage with and contribute to the political process.
Nine out of the ten candidates running in the electorate of Fisher attended the MYCF. These were:
- Peter Slipper MP - Independent Federal Member for Fisher
- Garry Claridge - Fisher candidate for the Australian Greens
- Bill Schoch - Fisher candidate for the Palmer United Party
- Mal Brough - Liberal National Party candidate for Fisher
- Tony Moore - Family First candidate for Fisher
- Mark Meldon - Fisher candidate for Katter's Australian Party
- Bill Gissane - Labor candidate for Fisher
- Rod Christensen - Fisher candidate for the Rise Up Australia Party
- Jarreau Terry - Independent candidate for Fisher
Each candidate presented a speech to the audience which was followed by a Q & A session moderated by ACL's Queensland Director Wendy Francis.
The candidates discussed a number of issues, ranging from coal seam gas, asylum seekers, funding for school chaplains, and marriage.
Answers differed when asked how each candidate would vote if their was a conscience vote on retaining the current definition of marriage. Peter Slipper said he supported the current definition of marriage as between a man and woman, as did Tony Moore, Rod Christensen, Jarreau Terry and Mark Meldon. Greens candidate Garry Claridge said he supported "marriage equality", as well as the ALP candidate Bill Gissane who described himself as "progressive" and for that reason wants to see the current definition of marriage changed to allow same-sex couples to wed.
LNP candidate Mal Brough said that he wanted to hear from the community about their views on the matter before he made a decision on how he would vote; "my conscience tells me that on this issue my role is to represent the majority of those people who wish to take the right to tell me and talk to me in a constructive manner," he said.
There was very encouraging and positive feedback about the evening; Garry Claridge later wrote "many very good questions were asked last night. They ranged from coal seam gas through to asylum seekers. The marriage equality question was just one of many and it was dealt with fairly quickly."
WIN TV and several other journalists were present for the MYCF.
Below are a links to mentions of the MYCF Fisher electorate in the media (and some more detailed information about the night):
- Sunshine Coast Daily - Coast pollies face showdown in Christian lions' den
- The Queensland Times - Peter Slipper, priest, altar boy, seeks to woo Christian vote
The ACL will be conducting more MYCF's in states around the country. To find out more information about these and other events in the lead up to the election, visit ACL's federal election website australiavotes.org.au.