Wauchope people got a chance to question the Federal election candidates for the Lyne constituency at a meeting organised by the Chamber of Commerce in the Senior Citizens Centre on Monday, June 20..
On the platform were Julie Lyford, the Greens, Peter Alley, Labor, David Gillespie, the Nationals, Brad Christensen, Independent, and Rodger Riach, Independent who said he’d arrived late because he got lost. The other candidate, Elaine Carter of the Christian Democratic Party was not present.
One woman asked the politicians’ opinion on enforcing transparency in disclosing funding at Federal level and should there be an independent commission against corruption.
The incumbent member, David Gillespie acknowledged concern across the community about corruption of the political process, but said every party has to fund-raise. “Getting donations, as long as they’re disclosed, there is no problem. An independent commission is over the top.” he said.
Peter Alley said he was personally in favour of a Federal commission, covering issues like corporate and institutional governance. Julie Lyford said the Greens fully support a Federal Independent Commission Against Corruption: “We uncovered donation rorts and the donations are huge.”
Rodger Riach said the issue is a national disgrace. “Corruption is mind-boggling, and it’s been going on for years,” he added.
Brad Christensen said he didn’t support another commission, that there are way too many at the minute. “What I would like to see is a limit set on every party on what they can spend,” he said.
A woman asked what they would do about the Technical and Further Education (TAFE) system, complaining that courses have become too expensive.
Julie Lyford agreed that young women and men cannot afford TAFE courses and said enrolments are down 80%. “We should be outraged by what’s happening to TAFE,” she said and criticised the government for supporting private colleges.
Peter Alley said: “We have seen the rorting of TAFE. We need to get behind it and fund it properly. We have seen a distressing decline in the number of apprenticeships under this government.”
David Gillespie said changes to apprenticeships in 2012 saw them drop by 25%. “We brought in Trade Support Loans so apprentices could get a loan over four years. Thousands of kids and adults have taken up those loans.” he said, adding that TAFE is run by the State government, which had made some of the cuts.
Brad Christensen said kids need the hands-on skills and training that TAFEs provide. Rodger Riach said: “With TAFE, we need to straighten things out.”
One man who volunteers at Wauchope Public School helping children learn to read said he was appalled by Christopher Pyne saying the Gonski proposals were too costly and would not be implemented and asked the politicians what they thought of Gonski.
Julie Lyford said Gonski was agreed by everybody and every child needs equity, so Gonski needs to be fully funded. “I am deeply concerned about the continuing privatisation by the Coalition government. There are billions of dollars in fossil fuels that could go into Gonski.” she said.
Peter Alley said regional schools have suffered with a lack of funding for years. “Gonski means fairness in identifying areas of advantage in our schools. We are fully committed to Gonski,”
David Gillespie said the government hadn’t cut anything. “The increases projected will still be increases, but they just won’t be as unaffordable. We have increased education spending by affordable amounts.”
Brad Christensen said any funding for schools is wanted but it’s got to achieve results. “We need to see changes in our schools system.” he said.
Rodger Riach said education is like a lot of other areas: “Everybody wants more money. It’s not feasible. The pie can’t be grown,” he said.