Absent Zed the butt of meeting’s jokes

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“MEET the Candidates” forums for the coming Federal election can be fun, can be interesting, can be boring and can sometimes change your mind on a candidate.

Paul Costigan.

Last night (May 5), the Inner South Canberra Community Council (ISCCC) held a “Politics In The Pub” meet the candidates forum.

Loads of people packed the place out. It was a successful forum and, as was said on the night, democracy was alive and well in the inner south.

With journalist Malcolm Farr as chair, the crowd was generally well behaved although there were several occasions when things verged on being rowdy. This was whenever someone raised the question (as they did often): “Where’s Zed?”

Senator Zed Seselja was not there and yet managed to gain the most mentions by the audience and a few of the candidates. Sadly for Zed this was done in jest, with jokes being made at his expense on several occasions and the otherwise fairly conservative audience enjoyed the frivolity.

About half the candidates present were independent in one form or another. While the audience enjoyed some of their speeches and the occasional foolishness that played out, I suspect the main party candidates won the evening. Except, of course, for Zed.

Gary Kent being a local community champion was well received – maybe next time he should be top of a ticket.

The Liberal guy tried hard to convince the audience on how the present government was doing the right thing by the climate, but the audience in loud voices did not accept any of that.

In fact, as was expected, climate change dominated. There were a reasonable number of younger people present and it was obvious that this was their hot topic for the candidates to address. The best question being: “If the country was to go into recession, would you still keep addressing climate change as a top priority?”

Tim Hollo, Greens candidate, definitely would have impressed a few voters. Both Penny Kyburz and Tim took every opportunity to make their points on climate issues and were wise to emphasis that the Greens were prepared to work with a Labor government to see climate as a top priority for the nation.

Using my theoretical applause-meter, I suggest that the Labor candidates all received the most positive reception, with Tim Hollo matching them.

The ISCCC is to be congratulated for staging this event and for using a structure that allowed for maximum debate. For instance too many of these forums allow the candidates to have several minutes to introduce themselves. This gets very tedious, as you have to listen to how wonderful their life has been and how long they and their families have lived in Canberra.

Instead, at beginning of the ISCCC forum, the candidates were given one minute only to get their message across. It was brilliant.

There were little highlights such as when one independent was droning on about finances and such riveting stuff, there came upon the crowd the sounds from the room behind of someone winning on the pokies. 

And to repeat myself, the comments about the absent Zed Seselja provided much needed entertainment for the evening. That now famous question was asked several times – Where’s Zed?

Well done to the ISCCC – and well done the residents of the inner south. A good forum – and some good audience participation. And a special thanks to the Eastlake Football Club for providing the venue.

So now – the final decision looms on who gets that number one on the ballot papers.

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