Justine Elliot at the Meet the candidates breakfast in Kingscliff.
Justine Elliot at the Meet the candidates breakfast in Kingscliff. John Gass

Richmond candidates grilled at business breakfast

IT was game on for the candidates at the third and final candidate's forum on Wednesday.

Five of the six candidates for the seat of Richmond put their hand up to convince an intense crowd of 60-plus at the Kingscliff Beach Bowls Club of why they should vote for them.

The Combined Tweed Chambers forum saw the candidates speak and take questions.

Sitting Labor member Justine Elliot was questioned by Kingscliff Chamber president and business woman Jayne Henry about if she was really in tune with the electorate's dire business situation.

"The reality is our retail sector is dying and small business is struggling," Mrs Henry said before asking Mrs Elliot if she really did support small business.

Mrs Elliot said she had prior commitments but she supported small business.

"I can tell you I'm a big supporter of small business and the campaign," she said.

"We've seen from Kevin Rudd the really big commitment he's made in supporting small business."

Mrs Elliot then continued to say she believed the area had a very strong retail sector.

"You've actually said our retail sector is doing well, I would say you're not in touch with local business because if you go to Murwillumbah every second shop is closed," Mrs Henry said.

Mrs Elliot, in her four-minute spiel, told the crowd she was determined to keep her seat and had, during her time in office, delivered $1.5 billion worth of funding including the Sexton Hill upgrade and the medical super centre.

She further said that Liberal's fringe benefit tax would be detrimental.

Independent, and former Tweed mayor, Kevin Skinner said he was passionate about improving aged care services and deteriorating roads.

"What this electorate needs is a strong independent who will stand up and fight for your region," he said.

He also said a major area of focus for him was the economy of small business and he believed independents would play "a very strong roll in the formation of this new government".

Next up at the podium was Nationals candidate Matthew Fraser.

He said voters had a choice this election to make a difference and that it was time for "a change and new way".

Mr Fraser said as a member of the business community, he understood the issues facing the government and had door knocked about 7000 houses to listen to issues.

"I'm not even in government yet and I have secured much needed funds," he said.

"If I have the honour of being elected on September 7, I will deliver."

Mr Fraser referred back to the $3.3 million for Kennedy Dr, $185,000 for the Murwillumbah Football Club and $200,000 for CCTV in Byron Bay.

Greens candidate Dawn Walker told the crowd she was committed to saving the environment and keeping our resources in Australia.

She said coal seam gas mining was a toxic, unproven industry, that was toxic to our health and one that the Green's wanted to stop.

"All of science is starting to tell us it will affect our water, particularly our ground water, it's toxic to our land and to our community's health and it's an industry that we just cannot afford to have in this region," she said.

Palmer United Party's Phil Allen said voters were faced with choosing between the lesser of the two evils on Saturday.

"You can't tell the two apart," he said.

He said PUP was a group of successful people from all walks of life brought together to make real chance for Australia.

He said Clive Palmer had a big idea and big plan to help the country.

Dr Allen said he had spoken with patients for the past 15 years about what they thought of the state of Richmond and believed he understood the electorate's needs.

Christian Democratic Party candidate John Ordish did not make the forum but sent his apologies.



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