With a little over a week till the election, it was clear last night at the Queanbeyan Arts Centre that those in the race over the border are starting to lose their minds.
Pouring rain + Federal Election + 4 out of 8 candidates & Ross Solly ÷ Eden Monaro = 2.5 hours of propagating, pandering, psychotic pandemonium (of the variety only possible in NSW)
It was the fourth meet the candidate event they’d been to in 48 hours, Green for the bellweather seat of Eden Monaro, Catherine Moore, said rubbing her eyes in a desperate attempt to stay conscious.
Incumbent MP Dr Mike Kelly joked about the close bonds they’d formed together while competing for votes across the electorate.
“I’d like to congratulate my colleagues on making this the democratic process it is, I’ve become very fond of them through this multiple debate process. It’s a bit like some weird family road trip, albeit some sort of strange backwards family, each of us taking our turns calling out, are we there yet?”
Liberal candidate David Gazard agreed,
“I’m enjoying every minute of the Addam’s family road trip. I’m not quite sure who’s Uncle Fester, it might not be a good idea to go there.”
Gazard made me laugh no end with that, remembering the Worker’s Union advertising spoof about his dear leader, Mr Tony Abbott:
The wild card of the night was independent Ray Buckley from Bega, a house painter by trade campaigning on sustainable living, renewables and “loving yourself”, which I think had something to do with self esteem.
Buckley wants electricity to be free and banks to be nationalised.
His position on most issues left the audience and speakers puzzled as to why he was running as an independent and not a Green, a mystery which remains unsolved.
Moore and Buckley went to and froe over answers, “echoing what Ray had to say…”
Moore asked openly, “How come Ray didn’t join the Greens?”
Buckley responded by suggesting Moore ‘join’ the independents. Erm. Yes.
Why Eden Monaro is a marginal electorate became quite clear last night with the audience votes entirely split.
Shouting their way through responses to questions they’d asked the candidates, the crowd were loud, mad and quite enthusiastic with varying spats of verbal abuse. It was all very emotional.
The bogans in the front row heckled everyone, including Kelly, who they appeared to support.
Constituents fired the usual barrage of issues at them, roads, developers, housing, the national broadband network, public service jobs, national debt, small business, social justice, the Commonwealth superannuants took a stand, some farmers with the Murrumbidgee-Googong pipeline had a go at Kelly for not returning their calls (he denied it) and a young Liberal stood up and said she was distressed at Kevin Rudd’s removal from the leadership.
“I understand why someone from the Liberal party would be distressed about Kevin being dismissed,” Kelly quipped in reply.
Kelly said meeting Rudd in Iraq in 2003 inspired him to run for office in the first place, Gazard said former Eden Monaro MP Gary Nairn had inspired him.
In their closing statements Gazard focused on local concerns and budget deficit; Kelly on renewable energy and Queanbeyan playing a role on the world stage; Buckley on free energy and producing enough food to be self reliant; and Moore on broadband, renewable energy, climate change and getting creative with the budget.
And then everyone sat down to have a nice cup of tea and admire Kelly’s superb moustache.