Constituents will turn out to cast their votes in the Queensland Election at the end of the month.
Constituents will turn out to cast their votes in the Queensland Election at the end of the month.

From the Editor’s Desk: Rockhampton election debate

Dear readers,

As we prepare to cast our votes for the people we want to lead us through the COVID-19 economic recovery and for the longest term in the state's history, The Morning Bulletin is tonight bringing you a local debate.

This debate will be live on The Morning Bulletin site.

Simply visit www.themorningbulletin.com.au and click on the election debate story which will dominate our home page from 7pm.

The Rockhampton debate begins at 7.30pm and will be moderated by the Bulletin's lead political reporter, Leighton Smith.

This livestreaming debate will provide Queenslanders with the opportunity to hear each candidate's one-minute pitch and provide a forum where we will ask real questions submitted by our readers, giving candidates the opportunity to share what matters most to them in the lead up to election day.

The Morning Bulletin and Courier-Mail will partner with Sky News and News Queensland's extensive network of regional titles to deliver the most comprehensive election coverage across the state.

This ensures that Queenslanders make an informed decision based on facts when they head to the polls on October 31.

The election comes amid a COVID-induced recession, with issues like jobs, infrastructure and community safety expected to be at the top of the agenda across the state.

The fight for votes in the Rockhampton electorate is already shaping up to be a spirited one, with six candidates officially nominated.

 

Election debate candidates from top L-R: Tony Hopkins, Torin O'Brien, Laura Barnard and Christian Shepherd.
Election debate candidates from top L-R: Tony Hopkins, Torin O'Brien, Laura Barnard and Christian Shepherd.

 

Four of these candidates will take part in tonight's event - the LNP's Tony Hopkins, One Nation's Torin O'Brien, Katter Australia Party's Christian Shepherd and Laura Barnard from Legalise Cannabis QLD.

Mick Jones for The Greens is unable to make the debate this evening.

Disappointingly, incumbent Labor MP for Rockhampton Barry O'Rourke refused to be involved in the debate - a move which has already sparked criticism from his opponents and the general community.

 

PARLIAMENTARY PRIVILEGE: Speaking from parliament in Brisbane, Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke has called out the increasing amount of
PARLIAMENTARY PRIVILEGE: Speaking from parliament in Brisbane, Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke has called out the increasing amount of "gutter politics" he was seeing in the region.

 

Mr O'Rourke declined to participate in the debate citing his "absolutely appalling experience" with the way the last Rockhampton candidates debate was conducted at CQUniversity during the 2017 State Election campaign.

Despite a changed format, editor and debate moderator, he could not be persuaded to change his mind about being involved.

We've reached out to Mr O'Rourke a number of times now to see if he will change his mind, but his position appears to be that it's not worth taking part in.

Readers are invited to submit the questions they want to see tackled in the debate.

If they don't make it in to tonight's debate, we are committed to ensuring they are asked of our candidates during our election coverage which will run until decision day on October 31.

Email your questions to melanie.plane@news.com.au or leighton.smith@news.com.au

Here's some of the most-read local stories on the state election so far:

 

Rockhampton stadium debate

One of the issues sure to be a hot topic this election is the Rockhampton stadium debate, with the LNP, One Nation and ALP backing different projects - one at Victoria Park and the other at Browne Park.

Last month, the LNP and One Nation at a federal level, with support from local candidates Torin O'Brien and Tony Hopkins, announced $23 million for the Victoria Park project.

Just weeks later, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk with Rockhampton MP Barry O'Rourke, pledged $25 million for the Browne Park venture.

 

Juvenile crime

The issue of youth crime in the Rockhampton region is complex, and one that is not going away anytime soon.

It has been in the spotlight recently due to escalating incidents at a popular Gracemere park.

Most parties have released juvenile crime crackdown plans.

Gracemere High School

The push for a high school at Gracemere is one that has been ongoing for many years now, with the LNP, One Nation, Katter's Australia Party and even NQ First - that does not have a candidate in the Rockhampton electorate - all pledging support for the project, while the ALP has held firm its stance that a new school is not yet warranted.

 

As always, I'm always keen to hear from the Bulletin's loyal readers. You can reach me on melanie.plane@news.com.au

Your Morning Bulletin editor - Melanie Plane



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