Discussion. Vying for the seat of Murchison in the Legislative Council Elections, candidates Ruth Forrest and Daryl Quilliam met to discuss their priorities at a forum last week.
Held at the Circular Head Community and Recreation Centre last Wednesday (April 26), the candidates forum provided an opportunity for locals to make their voices heard.
Organised by Smithton Lions Club, the forum was supervised by independent chair Tom Glynn.
Candidates were given five minutes for an opening and closing address before answering set questions, which touched on upgrades to the Bass Highway, the future of the Tarkine, the reopening of recreational tracks in the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area, water sources and irrigation, and forestry and agriculture.
Candidates then had the opportunity to hear about the issues that locals are most concerned about.
The first public question asked the candidates to find a way to bring Circular Head Aboriginal Corporation and Tasmanian Aboriginal Centre together to share in the same opinions that affect Tasmania’s Indigenous population.
“I’m not sure why we can’t get CHAC to be recognised more by the state authorities,” he said.
“I would like to see the Aboriginal people working together for the betterment of Tasmania.”
Ms Forrest said she believed groups have the right to voice their own opinions.
“We can’t expect all aboriginal, and non aboriginal groups to be absolutely harmonious, that would be unrealistic.
“They all have their own beliefs that are unique to their own cultures and tribes but we do need a common framework.”
Ms Forrest said managed and sustainable access within the Arthur-Pieman Conservation Area were essential to its prosperity.
“We need to be able to coexist: tourism, forestry, mining and all of those other activities that occur in those beautiful parts of Tasmania need to occur in an environmentally sensitive way, a culturally sensitive way and a respectful way for all users,” she said.
Her opposition said he would advocate to allow the area to be visited and appreciated by everyone.
“The local people, the people who have been there for many years, understand the area, understand where the places [are] that need to be protected,” he said.
“There is only one or two per cent of the people that go there that damage the things that ought to be protected.
“I personally believe that if the local people were able to manage and help work with the rangers, I’m sure we would have much better outcomes for the state and for further generations because we are managing this area for the future to come.”
Circular Head Councillor John Oldaker put the question to the candidates on their views of the state government taking over the ownership of water and sewage infrastructure and finances.
“The biggest issues that TasWater has are in Launceston and Hobart,” Mr Quilliam said.
“Why should regional areas support and have to fix up the problems of Launceston and Hobart?
“In Circular Head’s instance, the evaluation of the water and sewerage in Circular Head is $26 million, why should it be taken away form us and only given some dividends for the next 10 years?”
Ms Forrest said she believes the prospect has merit but did not support the manner in which the announcement had been made.
“The reason I say that is that water and sewerage assets are inter-generational assets, where they are there for the long term and governments have a better capacity in some respects to borrow and to invest in long term intergenerational infrastructure.”
Rylee Popowski, 12, put the question to the candidates on their view of rates and taxes which come out of rural areas but are not spent in regional areas.
“In Tasmania being quite a small state, it is important that we look after all areas,” Ms Forrest said.
“Tasmania is a bit different from the other states, most of the other states have a major population base in their capital city, in Tasmania less than half of the population live in Hobart. There is a real case in Tasmania particularly for making sure some of those taxes and wealth that is generated in rural regions goes back into those regions.”
Mr Quilliam provided a similar response in saying: “Without regional Australia, the cities of Australia would never survive. And I don’t believe that we get enough back from the taxes and the rates that we do pay.”
Both candidates said running as an independent was important to their integrity, rather than swaying to a particular party’s views.
The Legislative Council Election is on this Saturday (May 6) from 8am to 6pm.
Polling places in Circular Head include Irishtown Lodge Arthur Temple, Marrawah Memorial Hall, Rocky Cape Public Hall, and Smithton, Edith Creek, Forest and Stanley primary schools.