JANNELLE SAFFIN
JANNELLE SAFFIN"

Gulaptis not about to fall into union trap on IR laws

By Alex Easton alex.easton@northernstar.com.au

SO WHO really cares about industrial relations? Federal Page Labor candidate Janelle Saffin and Richmond Labor candidate Justine Elliot say it's the biggest issue of the 2007 election campaign, describing it as the recurring theme of their conversations with voters. But ask their Nationals opponents, Chris Gulaptis in Page and Sue Page in Richmond, and the issue barely raises a blip in the electorate, with voters putting just about any other issue you'd care to name ahead of it. Now Ms Saffin has thrown down the first debate gauntlet of the 2007 election campaign in Page. Ms Saffin is challenging Mr Gulaptis to a debate on the industrial relations issue. The move follows a similar one by Ms Elliot several months ago, when she booked a venue for the debate and challenged Dr Page to turn up. Dr Page wasn't interested and neither, it seems, is Mr Gulaptis. Told of Ms Saffin's challenge, Mr Gulaptis echoed Dr Page's response to Ms Elliot's original challenge. "Why not let the electorate decide what the key issues are," Mr Gulaptis asked. "There should be more than one topic." The Nationals candidate proposed a broad debate including all available candidates for the election, debating whatever issues the community raised. He described a one-on-one debate over the Federal Government's WorkChoices package as a union trap. "I have been at a couple of these meetings with (NSW Clarence MP) Steve Cansdell when I was running his campaign and what you get is 20 to 30 union officials attending to grill the conservative candidate."



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