Public Forum – Federal election: Hunter Senate candidates forum

Newcastle voters will have a rare chance to have an “up close and personal” look at senate candidates for the next federal election on the evening of the 21st June  at the Newcastle City Hall.

Local, independent think tank The Newcastle Institute will be hosting a public forum featuring senators representing all four parties in the senate – Labor, Liberal/National, Greens and the Liberal Democrats. The forum will be run as an “old fashioned” public meeting, making it a unique event for NSW.

The party representatives are Senators Deborah O’Neill (Labor), Lee Rhiannon (Greens), David Leyonhjelm (Liberal Democrats), and Senate candidate Hollie Hughes (Liberal/National).

The MC for the night will be Dr Bernie Curran, one of the patrons of the Newcastle institute.

Senators will be quizzed by a broad panel representing media, business, unions, and community groups. In the week before the forum, the public will be invited to submit questions for the panel.

It is sometimes said that many voters feel that the Hunter is ignored by the political parties in elections because of its many safe seats in the Lower House but in the Senate, every vote across the state counts.

This Newcastle Institute forum is a chance for the people of the Hunter, in any seat, to show the importance of the region in the senate vote.Previous Newcastle Institute forums before State, Federal and Local Government elections have been regarded as high quality, well organised, and fair to all candidates..

The meeting is open to all citizens who are interested in obtaining the best result for Newcastle and the Hunter region in the Senate elections.

A $10 donation at the door to cover costs is appreciated. Newcastle Institute is a not for profit organisation.

What: Newcastle Institute Public Forum – Federal election: Hunter Senate candidates forum

When: June 21, 2016 at 7pm-9pm

Where: Newcastle City Hall



15 Responses

  1. why are only the three major parties covered for this senate debate? There are local candidates running for minor parties in the senate that should get a say

    1. Hi Sharlene. We understand the concern, but it comes down to logistics. Given that around 40 parties or groups are standing senate candidates we need to go with a format that fits our timing and organisational capacity.

  2. Hi,

    Here are some questions on behalf of the Newcastle Women’s Alliance

    Does your party support Domestic and Family Violence Leave being included as a worker right within the National Employment Standards of the Fair Work Act 2010? If so why, if not why, and if so how many days leave do you support and why?

    What role can the Federal Government play to change culturally embedded sexism and inequality? Please ensure your response has considered what needs to happen beyond a one parliamentary term, as what is required is long term cultural change.

    Yes or no – Do you accept donations from fossil fuel companies?

    Do you support a ban on donations from fossil fuel companies, and a ban on subsidies to fossil fuel companies? This does not include a ban on subsidies to Australia’s farmers.

    Do you know what the single rate of Newstart Allowance is?

    Do you know what the average weekly rent on a one-bedroom unit is in Jesmond?

    Rates of Newstart have not increased substantially in real terms since 1996. Do you think that Newstart Allowance is a liveable allowance?

    The Howard government changed the policy so that single parents would be moved from parenting payments to Newstart once their child turned eight years old, this excluded children born prior to 2006. In 2013 the Gillard Labor government extended the policy to all single parents when their youngest child turns 8. This policy devalues women’s roles as mothers and carers, putting them under additional pressures of mutual obligation, and forcing many into poverty on lower rates of payment and reduced benefits. Do you support legislation to return single parents (who are predominantly women), to the previous Parenting Payment conditions where single parents receive parenting payments until their child is 16?

    What measures do you propose to:
    Provide equitable levels of funding to the arts, in relation to other subsidised industries;
    Ensure artists and artists can be paid fairly for their work;
    ensure the small to medium arts sector can continue to support innovation and experimentation (as opposed to the big organisations and heritage art forms); and
    That decisions about distribution of this funding are at arms length from political influence and pork barrelling.

    What role can the Federal Government play to change cultural attitudes of heterosexism, cisgenderism and inequality?

    The Medicare rebate for inserting an IUD, a procedure that requires special skills and involves some risk, and therefore is less attractive to some GPs, is about $50, yet for fixing someone’s ingrown toenail, a much less risky and involved procedure, I can expect a rebate of around $150- $200 (depending on the exact procedure). By the time I factor in nurse time, insurance, and sterilisation of equipment, it becomes impossible for me to offer IUD insertion as a bulk billed procedure. This puts having this effective and safe contraception, which also can help with heavy menstrual bleeding and period pain, out of reach of many women who otherwise could benefit from this. With the overhaul of the Medicare item numbers it seems timely to revisit the rebates for women’s health items such as IUDs, hormonal implants, Pap smears, and antenatal care. What role can the local candidates play in advocating for more fair rebates for women’s health items?

    Considering the Liberal suggested scheme (PaTH) is not actually creating jobs but creating loop holes for employers to take advantage of young people who are already in vulnerable positions and often unable to say no.. What are some strategies that can be implemented locally to actually assist young people who are unemployed?

    I am genuinely concerned about not having enough money to live on when I retire. I work full time, I try to save, but I work in the community services sector so I do not earn a high wage. I currently rent as I can not afford to buy a house, and will never be able to afford to buy a house. I am single and in my early 40’s. I put extra funds into my superannuation, but it will not be enough to survive retirement, I really do feel I will be living in poverty and that is actually terrifying. I know that for many women, particularly older women the situation is worse. What do you think should happen to ensure women do not spend their retirement years living in poverty?

    How do we ensure Superannuation is more equitable for people on low incomes, in receipt of benefits, or in carer roles so they can look forward to a secure future?

    What needs to happen to introduce long term rental agreements so people who rent, particularly as they get older, can feel safe and secure that they can live where they are for long periods rather than on 6 month or 12 month leases.

  3. More like your format only fits your agenda. People need to know their senate options. I would be a great opportunity for the smaller parties and independents to speak locally.

  4. I’ve got a couple of questions:

    1. The Hunter Research Foundation recently released a report which suggested the Hunter’s economy is still vulnerable after the mining boom. They’ve suggested the Hunter should move to the services sector and aged care because of the increasing age of the population. How do you think mining will fit into the Hunter’s economy in the future and how important is it right now?

    2. Slow Internet has made me wait more than anything else. While our American friends complain they can only reach speeds of around 50 mb/s, I struggle to reach 400 kb/s. If the Hunter is to move towards a services economy, surely it needs to have high speed Internet to complete with people living in Sydney.

  5. Hollie Hughes:- You aren’t top of the Liberal ticket even though you won the preselection ballot. You got put down the list to protect the ‘far-right’ faction of Concetta Fioranti-Wells. What does this say about the continuing power of Tony Abbott, Eric Abetz and fringe extremists like Corey Bernardi? Are they going to derail Turnbull even further after the election?? How can you guarantee stable government if the Liberal/National “COALITION” is re-elected?

    O’Neill:- You have a stated personal position against marriage equality. How can you stay in the party that Joe Bullock left?

    Rhiannon:- Why did the greens vote against Kevin Rudd’s Emission Trading Scheme, and more recently, vote with the Liberals to disenfranchise people voting for small parties.

    Lleyonhjelm:- After the Orlando shootings, and the assassination in the UK, what is your position on gun control?

  6. Regarding Negative Gearing. Landlords charge as much rent as the market will allow. If negative gearing is removed, why will that change rents? Landlords will still charge as much as they can, so it wont drive rents up or down, but at least it will stop investors making huge profits. They should be investing in something that creates new ‘common wealth’ like manufacturing (or at least new homes) rather than just speculating on existing houses. I would like to know all candidates views on negative gearing reform

  7. Why only the major parties who have already been provided endless coverage to present their views. Below are details of the SEP’s NSW Senate candidate John Davis who should be included on the plateform.

    John Davis, 22, is one of two Socialist Equality Party candidates
    standing for the Senate in NSW. John joined the SEP in 2013 to support
    the struggle for a socialist program against the drive to war and
    militarism and to fight for the social rights of the working class. He
    is president of the International Youth and Students for Social Equality
    (IYSSE) club at the University of Newcastle, where he is currently
    completing a Bachelor of Arts degree.
    John grew up in the Upper Hunter Valley mining town of Muswellbrook and
    is well acquainted with the issues facing workers and youth throughout
    the Newcastle, Central Coast and Hunter region. He played a leading role
    in the fight to build the IYSSE, in Newcastle and on the Central Coast,
    among working-class youth and students who face a deepening social
    crisis that includes ongoing cuts to tertiary education and low wage
    casual work or permanent unemployment.

  8. Hi, my name is John Davis, I am standing for the Senate in NSW for the
    Socialist Equality Party.

    Our party was not invited to participate in this debate, so I would like
    to ask the candidates a question about one of the most serious
    issues that faces workers and young people, and the issue that is at the
    very centre of the election campaign of the SEP.

    Military tensions between the US and China are rapidly rising. Labor
    Party Defence spokesman Stephen Conroy last week asserted that if Labor
    forms government he will prove Australia’s support for the US alliance
    by authorising the Australian Navy and Air Force to carry out operations
    that violate Chinese territorial claims in the South China Sea–actions
    that could result in an armed clash between the Chinese and Australian
    militaries and spark an all-out war.

    My question to Labor and Liberal-National is, do you support the
    position of Stephen Conroy? To the Greens, what is your position on
    risking war with China?

  9. Many of the proposed changes in the current Federal Government’s white paper Driving Innovation, Fairness and Excellence in Australian Higher Education appear to purposefully target women, based on the premise that women take longer to pay back their debts (or may not at all) due to lower earnings and career breaks. Noting that women are over represented in lower paid, insecure and part time employment, and are left behind in terms of financial security, can the candidates explain how measures such as increasing tuition fees (both in HECS levels and through ‘flagship’ programs), shifting more of the cost burden to directly to students, lowering the HECS-HELP repayment thresholds and having repayments based on household (not individual income) won’t penalise women disproportionally?

    National Tertiary Education Union analysis on Higher Education Policies is available on the public link below.—the-Impact-of-HECS-HELP-Changes—Federal-Election-2016-Briefing-Note–18598

  10. (1) For all parties. There are 58 million refugees in the world according to the UN. How many should Australia take, and do we give priority to those who can afford to come by boat?

    (2) For all parties. What is your personal position on abortion.

    (3) For All parties:- Should we give aid to overpopulated poor countries that do not allow legal contraception programs?

  11. Dear Senator Rhiannon, why do the Greens like science when it suits them e.g. climate change, but then tolerate anti-vaxxers who put the lives of small children in the community at risk of whooping cough etc, or waste health dollars on unscientific alternative “medicine”.

  12. In the days of drone warfare, why are we spending Billions of Dollars on fighter planes like the JSF, which are already obsolete? Like the French investing in Mounted Knights in Armour after the English demonstrated the power of the longbow. Or the Generals of World War one not understanding the importance of machine guns. Or the British in WW2 not thinking Singapore could be taken by a dominant airforce providing support for soldiers on bicycles. Fighter planes are now only expensive toys for Tom Cruise wannabee fighter jocks.

  13. Labor wants a Royal Commission into banks – Why waste the money? 2 litres of milk costs two dollars – for the farmer, the transport, a cut for the shop. But it costs $2 just to get some money out of an ATM. And there is a hidden levy on every credit card transaction. Maybe it wasn’t such a clever idea to privatise the Commonwealth Bank. They need to be regulated, or maybe we need a publicly owned ‘honest banker’.

  14. (I know this may be too late but) my question is:
    In the 2015 budget the government made changes to eligibility for part aged pensions affecting pensioners assessed both under the assets test and the income test (defined benefits pensions). The assets test changes were supported by The Greens and the defined benefits income test changes were supported by both The Greens and Labor. These changes affected people who had already retired and were not “grandfathered”. They also broke a coalition election promise not to change pensions. Will your party commit to not making further changes to age pension eligibility affecting already retired people unless such changes are grandfathered?

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