LABOR: Justine Elliot, MP.
LABOR: Justine Elliot, MP.

Richmond candidates debating the debate

By Alex Easton

RICHMOND Labor MP Justine Elliot and her Nationals challenger, Sue Page, will have their first debate two weeks from now.

The only question is what they will be debating.

Dr Page yesterday released a statement saying that after negotiations with Ms Elliot, she would take part in a debate on health, nuclear power, industrial relations and climate change at the South Tweed Community Centre on June 27 at 6pm.

However, that's news to Ms Elliot, who issued the challenge for a debate last week and who said the debate would focus solely on industrial relations.

"I'm happy to have other debates around Richmond on climate change, John Howard's plan to put nuclear power stations in Richmond and on the dental scheme," Ms Elliot said.

"But this debate on June 27 is about industrial relations." Dr Page said the debate should not be tied down to a single topic and should cover whatever issues Richmond residents were concerned about.

She said the best way to guarantee that was to base the debate topics around questions from members of the community present at the debate.

"Richmond is a really diverse electorate and you can't say one topic will suit everyone," Dr Page said.

"Something that's really important in Byron might be different to the things people are passionate about in Nimbin, which is different to Kingscliff and Tweed Heads. "Justine's saying she just wants to talk about industrial relations at a time that suits her; but this is not about Justine, it's about what the people in the electorate want."

Ms Elliot said what people in the electorate wanted was to have their concerns about the Commonwealth's new industrial relations laws addressed.

She accused Dr Page of 'flip-flopping' on whether to attend the debate and on where and when the debate should be held.

"She's flip-flopping on the dam, on whether she's standing in Page or Richmond, and now over the debate," Ms Elliot said.

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