Every three years one can look forward to seeing first hand the political elite and their understudies in action. The second and only Byron opportunity was the ‘Meet The Candidates’ night, held at the Byron Community Centre last Thursday.
Justine’s victory was inevitable; her preparation was thorough, her answers of pure polly dreams. She did cop a few heckles, but that’s the price for saying to a crowd of train supporters the state, not federal government are the ones to blame for taking the Trains Off Our Tracks. Similarly, Byron library supporters were told funds for community projects allocated to Council are not bound by conditions, so it’s a local government issue. Well done – crisis diverted. So the people of Byron need a new library? At least it’s better than Kingscliff’s one, Independent Julie Boyd told the gallery. This caused an awkward silence but spurred a new thread of conversation into play – the selling of public assets to build infrastructure. Unfortunately both van Lieshout and Nationals candidate Alan Hunter spoke mostly about themselves and with ignorance on complex issues. Democrats David Robinson didn’t speak much at all. It was sometimes just a little embarrassing, but sort of cute. Grandmas and farmers can run for office, just like lawyers.
The intellectual discourse was thankfully projected to a higher frequency by Independent Stephen Hegedus, who opened with ‘I came here instead to talk about philosophy.’ He offered reasoned and empathetic responses to complex issues which is encouraging in a newcomer. Fellow independents Nic Faulkner, Matt Hartley and Julie Boyd along with Joe Ebono of the Greens also displayed knowledge, wisdom, humour and bluntness in their unelectable cause. It was theatre of the absurd and the ultimate in standup comedy – all for the benefit of 150 physical and 100 virtual (web streaming) souls. That figure represents 0.27 percentage of the 91,881 voters in the seat of Richmond. Democracy inaction?