CAM­PAIGN TRAIL

Meet the can­di­dates fo­rum for Bur­nett elec­torate and pro­files on can­di­dates stand­ing for the seat of Cal­lide

Isis Town and Country - - Front Page - By LEAH KIDD

LE­GAL­IS­ING mar­i­juana and grow­ing In­dian hemp in the Bur­nett were two un­ex­pected top­ics to come out of the NewsMail and Co­ral Coast Cham­ber of Com­merce can­di­dates’ fo­rum.

As the sun set on day 14 of the State Gov­ern­ment Elec­tion cam­paign, Bur­nett can­di­dates gath­ered at Co­ral Cove Golf Club to ad­dress vot­ers and an­swer ques­tions.

About 40 at­ten­dees lis­tened in­tently as the four can­di­dates present – Stephen Ben­nett (LNP), Bryan Mustill (La­bor), Richard Love (PUP) and PeterWy­att (in­de­pen­dent) – were each given three min­utes on the mi­cro­phone to de­liver their open­ing state­ment and cre­den­tials to the au­di­ence.

La­bor can­di­date Bryan Mustill spoke of un­em­ploy­ment, not­ing the statis­tic to be 16.1%.

Greens can­di­date Colin Shep­pard sub­mit­ted his notes, but did not at­tend the fo­rum. His notes were read by event chair David Wise.

Mr Shep­pard’s top­ics in­cluded the con­di­tion of the Great Bar­rier Reef, cli­mate change and a call for more wildlife cor­ri­dors and al­ter­nate sources of en­ergy such as so­lar.

Cur­rent mem­ber for Bur­nett Stephen Ben­nett (LNP) said there were only three choices go­ing for­ward.

“Cut ser­vices fur­ther, put up taxes, or we can make the choice about leas­ing some as­sets,” he said.

Mr Ben­nett said leas­ing as­sets was the best op­tion.

PUP can­di­date Richard Love started with three words – “Jobs, jobs and jobs” – and noted the un­em­ploy­ment rate to be 16.3%.

In­de­pen­dent can­di­date PeterWy­att called for so­lar farms in the Bur­nett and the grow­ing of In­dian hemp to be le­galised.

When the floor was opened to ques­tions, the topic of leas­ing as­sets was quickly raised by one Bar­gara voter.

Stephen Ben­nett (LNP) was quick to clar­ify the term “lease” as com­pared to “sale”.

“I think it’s re­ally in­sult­ing that you can’t see the dif­fer­ence,” Mr Ben­nett said.

Another ques­tion from the floor was about le­gal­is­ing mar­i­juana.

La­bor can­di­date Bryan Mustill was nom­i­nated to re­spond and said le­gal­is­ing cannabis could get it out of the hands of drug deal­ers.

“I think it does help a lot of ail­ments that some peo­ple have,” he said.

Richard Love (PUP) said mar­i­juana should def­i­nitely be le­galised.

“We should be big boys and girls and call it what it is – it’s medicine,” he said.

In­de­pen­dent can­di­date PeterWy­att was ap­palled.

“No way in the word would I back drugs,” he said. The crowd clapped. Stephen Ben­nett (LNP) agreed.

“About le­gal­is­ing the recre­ational drug, no way,” he said, draw­ing more ap­plause from the crowd.

PHOTO: MIKE KNOTT

PO­LIT­I­CAL DE­BATE: Mem­ber for Bur­nett Stephen Ben­nett at the can­di­dates de­bate.

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