Little passion shown for federal poll candidates
A POOR turnout of only 20 people turned up to the Rainforest Habitat last Thursday to hear federal election candidates Jim Turnour and Warren Entsch stake their claim to the seat of Leichhardt.
While the only debating on the evening was done by the resident curlews - who interrupted both candidates repeatedly and drew the biggest laughs of the night - the small gathering of locals was able to get a good impression of the two candidates and their very different styles.
Flanked by Federal Small Busi- ness Minister Craig Emerson and a media advisor, Mr Turnour barely deviated from his scripted address.
Mr Entsch, by contrast, didn’t have a script.
Mr Turnour, the current member, had first crack at the microphone and laid out his achievements since his election in 2007, and the promises announced since the current campaign launched last month.
Mr Entsch spoke in generalities, spruiking his favourite projects including the Daintree monorail and pontoon and the Daintree Gateway.
The wheels fell off, however, when he focussed on Port Douglas issues.
“Your waterfront needs a facelift,” he told the audience, which included several long-standing members of the waterfront management committee. “You need to get together and come up with a plan.”
Several audience members expressed astonishment that Mr Entsch had not heard about the Port Douglas waterfront planning process, now four years old.
Division 10 councillor Julia Leu offered to loan her copy of the plan to the candidate.
Mr Entsch pleaded ignorance of the plan and then asked how much federal money the project needed.
“To be fair, we’re not at the stage of being in a position to ask for federal assistance,” Cr Leu said.
Mr Entsch then went on to accuse the local community of not communicating effectively, and attacked Cairns Regional Council over their tender process for the Cairns Cultural Centre.
Reflecting on the event a few days later, Port Douglas Chamber of Commerce president Ken Dobbs sought to find positives.
“Both addresses were positive, in different ways,” he said. “It was a lot more civilised than the Cairns debate on the Friday.”
Mr Dobbs didn’t want to pick a winner on the night, but said the real loser was the community.
“We run around telling each other how passionate we are, but I wonder,” Mr Dobbs said. “We were given an opportunity to present our priorities to two people, one of which is going to be our next federal member of parliament, and less than two dozen people turned up.”