IF WE’RE not doing the job, kick us out.
That was the message from seven of the region’s nine federal election candidates who fielded questions from small business owners yesterday.
The Palmer United Party’s Phil Girle, Greens’ Pat Schultz, independents Rob Taber and Jamie McIntyre, Nationals’ Barnaby Joyce, Richard Witten of the Citizens’ Electoral Council and Country Labor’s Stephen Hewitt took part in the Meet the Candidates forum to outline how their party would help the plight of small business.
Katter’s Australian Party senate candidate Paul Mailler was also in attendance. But absent from the Q&A session hosted by the Tamworth Business Chamber were One Nation’s Brian Dettmann and Christian Democratic Party’s Aaron Michael Evans.
Restructuring the tax system, reducing red tape, increasing regional development and the need for a review of workplace laws got the majority of airplay from the audience.
All candidates agreed a taxation review in line with the Henry report needed to be undertaken, with one candidate calling the current system “clunky”.
In relation to a question on compliance killing small business, all agreed a certain level of compliance was necessary, but concurred there should be less in general.
The candidates also invited audience members to hold them to account, saying if they didn’t come through with their promises, voters should kick them out at the next election.
Mr Joyce was asked to explain how he would be an effective member with pulls on his time from a federal level.
The Nationals candidate responded by saying in his opinion it was advantageous to have someone representing the electorate who was also in higher office.
Tamworth Business Chamber president Tim Coates, who moderated the session, said it was fantastic the people who wanted to ask the questions had the opportunity to do so.
“We want a strong working relationship with whoever is successful and would like to know that we can knock on their door and have our case heard,” he said.