Around 100 people attended a fiery meet the candidates forum at Charles Sturt University on Thursday night ( March 14).
The event was hosted by the Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce in conjuction with Charles Sturt University.
All four candidates for the state seat of Port Macquarie attended.
Each candidate had 10 minutes at the beginning to introduce themselves and their policies.
Labor candidate Peter Alley spoke first about Labor's plans to invest in schools and hospitals citing Labor's pledge to upgrade demountable classrooms with permanent structures in public schools.
Jan Burgess from Sustainable Australia said her party was not aligned to the left or right but an "apolitical political party". She said they would be focusing on better planning, affordable housing, secure jobs and a sustainable environment and population.
The Green's Drusi Meggett spoke about the Green's commitment to the environment and the vulnerable in society. She said the Greens want more trees not less and forests should be protected from logging.
The National's Leslie Williams cited her government's economic management including an unemployment rate of 3.9 per cent and a budget in surplus which had allowed them to invest in infrastructure such as the recently announced Ocean Drive duplication.
Questions from the floor
The political candidates were questioned on a range of topics including logging, payroll tax, unemployment, orbital road and pill testing.
A woman from the Forest Alliance Group asked a question angrily towards Leslie Williams about logging in state forests. The woman was asked to leave the forum by Port Macquarie Chamber of Commerce Executive Officer Mark Wilson. She left a short time later.
Steve Cusato who owns a civil construction business asked about Labor's policy to freeze the threshold on payroll tax.
Ms Cusato said he had to let go 30 workers because business was "getting harder and harder" and "construction in housing estates had come to a standstill".
Mr Alley defended Labor's policy on payroll tax saying only 5% of small business pay payroll tax and Labor's local jobs program would bring more business to this area.
Leesa Harrison from the Port Macquarie Neighborhood Centre asked about transport for young people who were trying to access employment, particularly those from low socio-economic backgrounds.
Drusi Megget said Community Transport should be expanded to include young people needing transport for employment, an answer that Jan Burgess agreed with.
Lachlan Hughes a CSU student asked why the Government won't consider pill testing saying "we don't live in a perfect world where people don't take drugs".
He said he was also concerned local music festivals in Port Macquarie would be shut down.
State member Leslie Williams said she personally would never support pill testing but did offer a guarantee that no local festivals would be shut down in Port Macquarie.
The thorny issue of an orbital road for Port Macquarie was the last question of the night.
Leslie Williams said she was not supportive of the current design and urged local council to work with the RMS to look at alternative options.
Drusi Megget said she didn't think it would be built and residents in the investigation corridor would have a cloud hovering over them.
Peter Alley said strong leadership was needed to move the issue forward. As a councillor he voted to move the process to consultation and for a business plan.
Jan Burgess said sometimes there are no good solutions which is why Sustainable Australia wants to give power back to residents through a establishment of "local citizen panels" which would be involved in the planning roads like the orbital road.