Friday evening saw the Armidale Business Chamber's Meet the Candidates night held at the Town Hall. It was attended by about 80 people as well as the four candidates running for the seat of Northern Tablelands in the coming NSW Election due to be held on Saturday March 23.
For a great deal of the evening, candidates were restricted to time limited answers. It was no doubt considered a good idea, considering their propensity for a notoriously long-winded career. So, it was disappointing when a few in the audience saw a captive audience as a good opportunity to advertise one cause or another.
... I got a bit of a sense of their ability to grapple with issues ...Kate Boyd
Some quick questions at the end of the night certainly brought some different answers from those who attended but most of them were satisfied.
Maria Hitchcock said she was left disappointed.
"I had my hand up [to ask a question] many times and he never came to me. It needed to be a lot tighter. I think having questions from the floor is fine, but they need to be really well controlled."
Kate Boyd said she learnt a bit.
" I got a sense of the different interests that they have. There's a lot of commonality, and I got a bit of a sense of their ability to grapple with issues and I'm pleased that we've got candidates who are taking things seriously."
Hans Hietbrink said he thought it was excellent.
"It was a great opportunity to hear what the candidates had to say. Some of them were more knowledgeable than others on some of the subjects, but at the end of it all we got a fair impression of what they stood for and how they saw the issues."
Andrew Burgess thought the bigger issues like climate change and youth crime seemed to be very low in the political "to do" tray.
John Coleman is an Upper House candidate for the Socialist Alliance and thought the questions asked were good.
I give it to the candidates for answering some of the questions that were quite difficult, and were in several parts.Dave Good
"Some candidates did answer the questions right, some candidates didn't answer the questions, but it depends on how good the question is."
Ros, who wished to remain anonymous, said while she learnt about the issue of the Armidale Regional Airport, she would have liked to have asked her own question.
"I didn't stand up. I was going to ask them about the medicinal marijuana, but I just got a bit shy," she said.
Dave Good said he was happy with the way the event was conducted.
"It was enlightening in terms of some of the questions. I give it to the candidates for answering some of the questions that were quite difficult, and were in several parts."
Alex Claassens said there seemed to be a lot of issues that the community felt it had not been listened to on.
"It is good that at least they have had the opportunity to come along and ask the question," he said.
What the candidates thought (in ballot paper order).
The Nationals' candidate Adam Marshall said full credit should go to the Armidale Business Chamber for organising such an informative event.
"While I would have liked to have seen more people there, it was clear by the questions put forward that people are engaged with the political happenings of this Electorate which is a good thing.
"I thought it was a well presented function."
Labor candidate Debra O'Brien thought it was a really good night.
"I thought there was a lot of good questions, and probably some of those questions I was expecting, but a good range of questions," she said.
"Probably a few more people would not have gone astray, but it was a good turnout."
Greens candidate Dorothy Robinson said there was lots of interesting questions asked, especially on climate change, the environment and Greens policies.
"And the idea that people maybe will consider voting Greens to send a powerful message to the politicians that we need to look after the environment," she said.
"We need to make sure this community benefits from this election and gets all the support and help it needs."
Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party candidate Rayne Single said he had a good time.
"Pretty much all of those questions, everyone agreed on the same thing," he said.
"At the end of the day, we just need some common sense to happen and we'll see what happens when this next government gets on and see if they can walk the walk instead of just talking the talk because talk's cheap."