A VOCAL and well-informed crowd grilled candidates on a range of local issues at last night’s debate for the state seat of Fremantle.
Hosted by University of Notre Dame, Socialist Alliance’s Chris Jenkins, Liberal candidate Hayden Shenton, Julie Matheson for Western Australia’s Janetia Knapp, Greens’ Martin Spencer, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation candidate Warren Duffy and Labor’s incumbent member for Fremantle Simone McGurk fielded questions on economics, building a better Fremantle community and transport from the crowd .
Only two candidates, Gabrielle van der Linde from the Australian Christians and Micro Business Party’s Andrew Ayre did not participate.
Despite a smaller than usual audience turnout, tourism, education, unemployment and the Safe Schools program were among the concerns raised and elicited well researched and sometimes surprisingly off the cuff responses from the candidates.
Mr Duffy drew ire from the crowd when he slammed Perth and Fremantle as boring, saying there was nothing interesting and admitted when he returned from holidays he could not wait to leave again, while multiple candidates took a safer response, spruiking the importance of tourists coming in through Fremantle Port and the need to include more Aboriginal culture.
“We have shiploads of people coming from all over the world but they are all getting on buses and leaving Freo,” Ms Knapp said.
“Aboriginal culture is really important and we need to tell the world about it.”
“A huge amount of funding should be put into showcasing Noongar culture,” Mr Jenkins agreed.
However, the Perth Freight Link (PFL) and Roe 8 again proved it would be one of the biggest issues at the voting booth as multiple people vied to voice questions on the matter.
Questions included whether a Labor government would indeed tear up the contracts and whether there would be a royal commission into the PFL.
All candidates besides Mr Shenton and Mr Duffy came out against the new roads, although Mr Duffy said while he supported Roe 8 the process had been done “the wrong way”.
“One thing is not understood here, Roe is part of a metro ring road being completed slowly over time and PFL was a way of grabbing funding so we must build 8 and 9,” Mr Shenton said.
“The PFL is a second choice as the Fremantle Eastern Bypass was the first.”
“We will ensure Labor keeps to their word and tears up the contract,” Mr Spencer said.
“Mark McGowan stated categorically that we will not proceed with Roe 8 or the PFL,” Ms McGurk said.
“If we are elected one of the first pieces of correspondence issued will be that companies should cease work immediately.”