LOCAL businesspeople put their questions to the major party State Election candidates for Wanneroo last night.
Transport, the growth of Neerabup industrial area, internet connectivity and protections for sub-contractors were among the issues raised at the debate, which was hosted by the Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA and the Wanneroo Times.
Liberal incumbent Paul Miles and Labor candidate Sabine Winton outlined their respective commitments for the electorate and even agreed on several issues, including that the NBN was a disaster.
Mr Miles said Federal Labor and Liberal governments had “completely failed in that space” and believed it should be delivered by the private sector instead, while Ms Winton placed responsibility on the current Federal Government for failing the nation and the state.
Both backed growing the Neerabup industrial area; Mr Miles announced LandCorp had sold 70 per cent of the land within the estate and was now focusing on the area south of Pinjar, and Ms Winton said Labor wanted to establish an industrial land authority to ensure it was well managed.
There was also bipartisan support for providing protections for sub-contractors and helping growers in Carabooda, Nowergup and Neerabup address 25 per cent cuts to their water use.
Ms Winton was asked how her party would fund its initiatives without the sale of Western Power but she said the same could be asked of the Liberals as the move could potentially be blocked in the Upper House if One Nation gains representation.
She said Labor wanted to create a debt reduction strategy and would tighten Government spending.
“Our job coming into government isn’t going to be easy,” she said.
“It’s going to be tough and there’s going to be really strong discipline required but I think we will do it and I think we will do it slowly and carefully with a really disciplined approach to public spending.”
Mr Miles played down the concern, saying his Government had previously demonstrated it could work well with minor parties.
“I think it’s a matter of wait and see after the election and work through,” he said.
“The Western Power sale, 51 per cent, it’s already been decided by Government, it’s actually not on the books, it’s already been decided by Cabinet.”
He said money from the sale would be invested in schools and “other major infrastructure projects”.
The greatest difference came in their appeal to electors as Ms Winton spoke about her background in the local area, growing up in Yanchep and watching it develop, and what kind of parliamentarian she wanted to be.
“I don’t want to pass the buck, I want to actually drag people in together to form solutions that will work for the local community and be of benefit for everyone,” she said.
She criticised Mr Miles’ comment to “wait and see” and said the lack of confidence in the community was hurting businesses.
“We can’t have this attitude of let’s wait and see and hope things get better,” she said.
Ms Winton also targeted the uncertainty regarding Colin Barnett’s tenure as Premier.
“As businesspeople you would know, imagine someone turning up to your door and wanting a job and saying, ‘by the way, I’m not going to stay for the entire contract’,” she said.
“We wouldn’t tolerate that in our employees and I don’t think we should tolerate it from our Premier .”
Her counterpart cited his achievements as Wanneroo MLA in the past eight years, including helping with east Wanneroo planning issues, ensuring Spring Hill Primary School in Tapping was built and upgrades to Joseph Banks Secondary College in Banksia Grove, and improvements to roads and bus services, which he said were more important than rail.
“Wanneroo hasn’t got a railway line and no amount of Metronet concept plans is going to make that happen,” he said.
“There’s a lot happened in this area and there’s a lot more to come and I’ve been the one that’s been driving it a lot, especially at the State Government level.”