The Port News surveyed readers about the issues they were most concerned about at the upcoming Federal Election on May 18.
Climate change, jobs and border protection made the top three.
With each issue we have asked a member of the public to ask a question to candidates vying for the seat of Cowper.
Port Macquarie resident Neroli Reid asked the question on border protection. See video for her question.
There are eight candidates contesting the seat of Cowper. All were contacted to answer Patrick's question.
Their responses are listed in order of the ballot paper.
Ruth Meads, Christian Democratic Party
Ruth Meads has declined all media requests with a spokesperson for the party stating she is an "inactive candidate".
Patrick Conaghan, The Nationals
When John Howard left government in 2007, there were only four illegal maritime arrivals in detention. None were children.
Labor with the support of Independents proceeded to unwind the Liberal and National Government's strong policies. The results were a disaster:
Over 50,000 people arrived on over 800 boats.There were 1,200 deaths at sea. Over 8,000 children were detained while Labor was in government.
Border protection failure has cost taxpayers $16 billion. Our Government have ended Labor's border chaos and restored strong border protection policies, including: Turn-backs where it is safe to do so, offshore processing and Temporary Protection Visas. This has deterred people smugglers, denying them a product to sell.
Our strong border protection policies mean we have: Stopped deaths at sea, closed 19 detention centres and removed all children from detention. While we have halted the criminal people smuggling syndicates, the threat still remains if a Labor / Green / Independent alliance are elected.
Alexander Stewart, United Australia Party
I support strong border protection, and the rule of law.
It is vital to discourage people smugglers putting refugees/asylum seekers on boats by making sure that NOBODY who arrives by boat EVER gets to live here.
We should not reward lawbreakers - those who seek to come here can apply through the UN High Commission.
There are 23 million refugees out there, but Australia's infrastructure cannot cope with current numbers of immigrants which must be reduced to manageable numbers.
Those who want to bring in more refugees should offer a spare bedroom in their home instead of wanting government to do everything. They could do what my wife and I did - circa 2005 we took in a Bangla Deshi refugee and circa 1980 we took in a Lebanese man fleeing their civil war. Both are now citizens paying tax.
The Administrative Appeals Tribunal should not be able to overrule decisions by the Minister.
Andrew Woodward, Labor
A Shorten Labor Government will strengthen Australia's border security with new measures to disrupt and deter people smugglers from preying on vulnerable people throughout the region.
Labor will keep the people smugglers out of business and maintain Australia's strong borders, ensuring they are never able to exploit the lives of vulnerable people again. Labor is committed to strong borders, turnbacks when safe to do so, offshore processing and regional resettlement because we know it saves lives at sea.
Rob Oakeshott, Independent
Our borders are strong and we as a nation are safe.
I'd never support any proposal that compromises our borders. I have worked with the United Nations Development Program in the Asia-Pacific for the past six years, and this has reaffirmed the importance to our reputation and our regional stability of building a better way of assessing refugee status. We do not need indefinite detention as a solution.
As one example, we have an offer from New Zealand to accept 150 refugees per year, and it defies logic we have ignored this offer from NZ PM Jacinda Arden.
This is just one bilateral arrangement we could develop alongside the thirty other options throughout the Asia-Pacific. In Australia, we have an ageing demographic and we need a workforce.
Treating those seeking legal asylum in an inclusive and welcome way, as opposed to rejecting and damaging them, is just one of many options to address this workforce shortage issue.
Lauren Edwards, The Greens
The Australian Greens recognise that border protection is both necessary and yet deliberately politicised and ranges from biosecurity to refugees. Unfortunately Coalition policies for refugees are designed to polarise those seeking asylum blaming them for being a threat to our countries security. Refugees are an easy target for political attack and the most vulnerable people on the planet.
Globally, our human family is undergoing unprecedented change as our population now reaches 7.7 billion people further complicated by climate change and associated resource wars.
The US military, for example, blames climate change for the Syrian civil war that created 5 million refugees which Australia only accepted 12,000. Only the Australian Greens seem to recognise that climate change is the greatest threat to Australia and its sense of National Security.
Kellie Pearce, Animal Justice Party
I was disappointed that the current Liberal/National government has stripped $150 million from the Office of Home Affairs and that has received very little media coverage. Reports show that Border Force officers are leaving their posts in NT because they can no longer afford to live there, boats can no longer patrol due to lack of fuel. This is an urgent issue which needs to be addressed, rather than just being a political football.
Border control is more than just people smuggling. Border protection is important to stop illegal drug and gun trafficking, illegal fishing and also wildlife smuggling, which is worth millions on the black market.
I would support putting sufficient budgeting back in place to ensure the Australian Border Force personnel can do their job and protect our borders from illegal trading and trafficking.
Allan Green, Independent
Allan Green was contacted for comment.