Magnetic Island North Queensland
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A young koala's beach adventure

August 19th 2010
The candidates respond to your questions

ALP candidate Tony Mooney, "would be happy to support an application ... to bring Radical Bay back into the Island’s national park network," and says he is, like all the other candidates, committed to complete the walkway from Nelly Bay to Arcadia. Lib/Nat candidate Ewen Jones asks, why alcoholics and drug addicts should expect others to pay for something that could have been avoided in the first place? Family First's Michael Punshon claims that the science for the carbon theory (re climate change) is flawed and corrupted while The Greens, Dr Mike Rubenach thinks a tax on junk food is a great idea. These are just some of the fascinating responses to questions you, our readers (and one from your Editor), have received from the field of candidates for our seat of Herbert after we invited questions for the candidates in our August 6 article "Let's ask them".

The Questions:

Question 1 from Geoff Barlow:
The Coalition supports the indexation of DFRB/DFRDB superannuation pensions for members aged 55 years or over in the same manner as Age and Service pensions.
The Greens support Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefit and Defence Force Retirement Superannuation and retired public servants' superannuation payments being indexed to wages growth in the same way as age pensions rise.
The Family First Party and The Democrats support us. Where does the Labor Party stand?

Answer from Tony Mooney ALP:
Labor is committed to ensuring that military superannuation properly reflects the unique character of military service, and our respect for our servicemen and women. Federal Labor has already taken action to improve military superannuation.  A re-elected Gillard Labor government will continue to pursue these reforms. 

Mr Abbott’s policy is like trading up from a Prius to a fuel guzzling Hum-Vee and only budgeting for the first tank of petrol and completely ignoring the large increase in fuel use over time. He has upgraded the car and not thought about how he will provide for the added fuel costs. What this clearly means is that he will have to cut services or increase taxes when the fuel bill eventually comes in.

Answer from Ewen Jones, Liberal National Party:
I am proud to say that an elected Coalition Government will introduce new indexation arrangements for members of the main superannuation scheme for ex service personnel, Defence Force Retirement and Death Benefits Scheme (DFRDB). Under the proposal, from July next year, the approximately 63,000 beneficiaries of this scheme will have their military pension indexed to whichever is the highest of three indexes – the Consumer Price Index (CPI), Male Total Average Weekly Earnings (MTAWE) or the Pensioner and Beneficiary Living Cost Index (PBLCI). These changes have long been sort by veterans’ organisations as part of a fairer indexation system. This change would bring indexation arrangements for these superannuants into line with those on the aged pension. The proposed changes will also apply to widows who receive the DRFDB. Labor has refused to index Military pensions, despite Mr Rudd giving Veterans to understand at the last election that they would.

Answer from Michael Punshon, Family First:
I personally add my support this this and to improve all pensions above the governments proverty line as a starting point.

Answer from Dr Mike Rubenach, The Greens
Geoff is clearly aware of The Greens policies on superannuation and pensions in relation to former defence personnel and public servants, so this is really a question for Tony Mooney. The Greens policies include simplifying existing pensions and allowances into a system to ensure an adequate income for all.

Question 2 from Josh:
Will Tony Mooney (& all candidates) suport a price on Carbon and an ETS?

Answer from Ewen Jones, Liberal National Party:
While a carbon tax is one way to immediately address carbon pollution, there are other equally effective solutions. In the first instance immediate introduction of a CPRS would be akin to taking a hammer to Australia’s poorest families. A carbon tax will come but there is no need to have it right now when Australia can more than meet its international obligations through measures that do not force up the price of every day goods. Under the Coalitions policy, we will focus on boosting renewable energy and cleaning up dirty industry. We will not support an ETS that will cost jobs, put unnecessary pressure on Australian families and ignores real environmental concerns.

Answer from Dr Mike Rubenach, The Greens:
Because we accept the seriousness of climate change and the urgency in reducing greenhouse gas emissions, The Greens want a tax on carbon to be implemented as soon as possible. We believe the Labor ETS plan is flawed and presently lacks the necessary urgency, whereas the Coalition position is very seriously flawed and will go nowhere near meeting emission reduction targets. We accept the views of economists such as Garnaut and Stern that a tax on carbon is essential. The Greens will also redirect the massive subsidies for fossil fuels to renewable energy and energy efficiency.

Answer from Tony Mooney, Australian Labor Party:
Local residents have a clear choice on Saturday – vote for Julia Gillard who believes in climate change and will invest in renewable energy or vote for Tony Abbott who thinks that climate change is “absolute crap”. For example, a Gillard Labor Government will invest $1 billion over the next decade in our electricity networks to connect Australia’s rich renewable resources to Australian homes. Federal Labor supports a price on carbon, but we need to build community consensus.

Answer from Michael Punshon, Family First:
The science for the cabon theory is flawed and corrupted. Family First calls for a true sceintitic debate on this issue to find out the truth. If I personally produced a report like the IPCC the government would take away my credentials. All the recommendations of the current report have no basis in credible fact.

Until a true and believeable report is produced Family First will not support a price on Carbon.

Question 3 from hj
If you can put up the price of cigarettes 25% in one go to fund hospitals , why isn't there an obesity tax and put up the price of junk food 25% , sure no one would complain , new hospitals everywhere!

Answer from Michael Punshon, family First:
People who smoke directly impact the health of their neighbour. People who eat to obesity impact their own health and they are dealling with demons in their lives; they do not need the public becoming one of those demons any more than they already are.

Answer from Dr Mike Rubenach, The Greens:
The Greens health policies include the following:
* Fund preventive health programs which include appropriate screening activities and healthy lifestyle education.
* Support improved labelling, and contents and nutritional disclosure, on all food sold in Australia, including country of origin.
* Work for more comprehensive enforcement of standards for food labelling and health and nutritional benefit claims.

Australia clearly needs a focus education, labeling and significant limitations on the amount of junk food advertisements, to tackle the obesity epidemic. A tax on junk food, with the revenue directed to public hospitals, is a great idea.

Answer from Tony Mooney, Australian Labor Party:
Federal Labor has no plans to change taxation arrangements as they apply to food.

We are investing record amounts in tackling obesity through programs being rolled out in schools, workplaces and communities across the country.

Answer from Ewen Jones, Liberal National Party
Let me answer this question with a question because it is a much wider public policy issue. Why should people who cause themselves self harm not be charged for the costs of meeting their health care? If a person drinks themselves stupid or takes a drug overdose, why should they expect others to pay for something that could have been avoided in the first place? This would make a subject for a great community debate.

Question from Jenny
Glad I saw the invite for a question in time. Everybody is now finally starting to talk about population levels and let's not trip ourselves up with immigration and boat people on this one so I want to know what each candidate has to say about Australia's future size. How many Australian's do you all think there should there be for a sustainable future?

Answer from Ewen Jones, Liberal National Party:
I believe that Australia needs to grow but not at a rate that will put excessive pressure on our natural resources, environment and infrastructure. I want to see an Australian population that our services can satisfy, our infrastructure can support, our environment can sustain, our society can embrace and our economy can employ. The Coalition will establish ‘Guard Rails’ for Population Growth. The Coalition will set clear parameters for population growth by tasking a renamed Productivity and Sustainability Commission to advise on population growth bands that it considers sustainable. Population growth can’t be mentioned without immigration. The Coalition will ensure that two-thirds of our permanent migration programme will be for the purposes of skilled migration. The Coalition will produce an immigration White Paper that will reframe the structure and composition of Australia’s immigration programme to address the policy challenges of sustainable population growth.

Answer from Dr Mike Rubenach, The Greens:
The question Australia's future population is quite a difficult one. The easy answer is that it must be sustainable, or in other words we must be able to feed and house the population, and must have adequate transport and other infrastructure in place, However, climate change poses a major threat and its effects are uncertain. Examples include likely increased aridity, salination, extreme bushfires and cyclones etc. Boat people coming to Australia, fleeing wars and persecution, are currently less than 2% of the annual immigration. However, climate change may result in dramatic increases in refugee numbers throughout the would. I would hope that Australia would treat such people humanely.

Answer from Michael Punshon, Family First:
The problem today is not population size but infrastructure. All previous governments have failed to adequately fund infrastructure, resulting in the problems we are facing now.

I personally can not put a figure on population numbers, except to say there any many more countries with higher population densities than Australia and they still have plenty of room.

Answer from Tony Mooney, Australian Labor Party:
The Prime Minister has made it clear that she favours a sustainable Australia, not a big Australia. The Prime Minister’s number one priority in this campaign is to move Australia forward with a strong and secure economy and to bring the budget back to surplus in three years, three years early. Further, if the Government is re-elected the Prime Minister is determined to stop the boats not at our shoreline but before they even leave those far away ports. We are determined to set up a regional processing centre to remove the profitability of the trade and the danger of the voyage. And we will toughen the penalties for those involved in people smuggling.

Question from Nick
Looks like Radical Bay is back on the back burner for the developers so if there was an opportunity for the government to buy back that freehold land and make it national park, would you support this?

Answer from Dr Mike Rubenach, The Greens:
I have addressed The Greens' position on a resort at Radical Bay under “Local Issues” for the Magnetic Times. The Greens are totally against a resort development there, and believe the land should be bought back and included in the national park.

Answer from Tony Mooney, Australian Labor Party:
This question reminds me of the disgraceful sale of the Cape Pallarenda Environment Park land by the Howard Government some years ago. I was bitterly disappointed that the Howard Government and Peter Lindsay did not cancel the sale despite the huge public outcry. Once it was sold, the game was essentially over despite ongoing community protests. If you elect a LNP government and local member, don’t expect any different outcome for Radical Bay.

Radical Bay is a beautiful part of the island. It has good environmental, aesthetic and recreational values. I would be happy to support an application under this or any other available program to bring Radical bay back into the Island’s national park network. However, as the Cape Pallarenda land proved, once such sites are in private ownership, getting them back into the public domain is difficult.

Answer from Ewen Jones, Liberal National Party:
I understand the Council is about to approve a new low scale low impact development in Radical Bay. Unfortunately it is effectively an as of right development. So there is almost no opportunity to buy back the freehold land. However, there is an upside. This development will finally see a long overdue upgrade to the Radical Bay road. I would like to mention that I recently announced $125,000 to maintain and upgrade the walking tracks in the World Heritage Listed section on Magnetic Island as part of the Coalition’s Green Army Initiative. The Coalition’s Green Army would provide teams of ten young Australians who will work on our local community-based environmental projects for six month periods as part of a new Coalition program.

Answer from Michael Punshon, Family First:
Magnetic Island is a beautiful island that needs to be shared with all people. The provision of environment friendly accommodation and sustainable housing is appropriate and should be encouraged in a controlled process.

Question from Sam:
I see that the Libs are backing the Arcadia walkway project so Im wondering what the other parties will say on it that's more than a definite maybe?

Answer from Michael Punshon, Family First:
The walkway project is an excellent project and should have been completed by now.
Family First will support the project.

Answer from Ewen Jones, Liberal National Party:
I can proudly say that I listened to the Magnetic Island community and fought hard to secure $4.726 million for the Nelly Bay to Arcadia walkway. I listened to the Maggie island community and I will listen again when the Townsville City Council commences the walkway. The proposed walkway has three main elements; Elevated walkway on the seaward side of Arcadia Road, linking Nelly Bay to Arcadia , concrete walkway along the Arcadia beach front and Remediation work on the existing Nelly Bay to Picnic Bay walkway. I am disappointed the Labor candidate continues to have no interest in the Island.

Answer from Tony Mooney, Australian Labor Party:
I have committed to deliver Federal funding of $4.7 m to complete the walkway from Nelly Bay to Arcadia.

On the other hand, the LNP has made all kinds of unfunded, uncosted promises, but they can’t be trusted to deliver them. They have a poor track record on the walkway.

Even Tony Abbott says that his candidates’ promises can’t be believed

Answer from Dr Mike Rubenach, The Greens:
I have addressed The Greens position on the walkway in the “Local Issues”. We totally support it. As a frequent visitor the island, and a keen walker, I am aware of how dangerous the road is for walkers and cyclists. (I also cycle to work each day in Townsville).

Question from George Hirst:
Magnetic Island is a sitting duck if a big cyclone comes and there's no emergency shelter to go to. Evacuation isn't a realistic option with ferries stopping well before the storm hits and not one publically accessible building is deemed adequate for a shelter on Magnetic. A multi-purpose arts, performance/sports/community meeting space, that is also built as a cyclone shelter, would benefit many groups and provide a realistic option for residents when the big blow comes. Would you support moves to achieve such a structure?

Answer from Dr Mike Rubenach, The Greens:
As scientists believe cyclones are likely to increase in severity as a result of climate change, it is essential that Townsville has appropriate buildings that can also act as cyclone centres. I have discussed this with the planning and disaster management people at JCU and they agree on the urgency of this. Magnetic Island is, of course, vulnerable. I believe a multi-purpose centre that could also act as a shelter is an excellent idea, and I certainly support it.

Answer from Ewen Jones, Liberal National Party:
The Council has no current plans for a multi purpose facility that could double as a cyclone shelter. In reality there is no purpose built shelter on the mainland either.

Answer from Tony Mooney, Australian Labor Party:
I’d take advice from the experts about the best way to prepare for this situation and work to deliver on what they say is most appropriate. I’ve got a proven track record of delivering local community infrastructure and will always support worthy local projects and fight to see them funded and delivered.

I like the idea of a multi-use community space and I am happy to progress this in partnership with stakeholders on the island. I would hope to involve the Council and the State Government in this project.

Answer from Michael Punshon, Family First:
I and Family First will support a project for a multi-purpose building that includes an evacuation shelter.

To add your comment,
or read those of others, see below

The candidates respond to your questions
August 18th 2010
All I ever hear now is Gillard supporters spewing because they will have to vote for Tony Mooney. What are you, mindless automatons?
You know the ALP will retain government, without needing to win over Herbert. You know you don't want to vote for Mooney - twenty years is plenty enough to know how the guy works. So don't do it. Take a walk on the wild side, put the Liberal guy ahead of Labor and party on content in the knowledge that you voted with your brain and not some waffly appendage. Go on. You can do it - especially in the quiet privacy of the polling booth.
Pat Coleman
August 19th 2010
Yep, the spinmeisters have shut tony's mouth because we all know what will come out of it if he is allowed to speak freely .

Why should we vote for someone we dont like. If you want the island protected , vote green and whoever gets government will have to take that as a message.
Jenny Stirling
August 19th 2010
Or one can decide not to sell out ones beliefs in social justice, compassion and sustainability and vote Green.
wendy tubman
August 19th 2010
Yes indeed, vote 1 Green - but unless you then fill in a 2, a 3 and a 4 in the remaining boxes your vote will be thrown away as 'informal'. It will not even register as a Green vote.

Yes, we face an appalling choice, but it is hugely important that the incoming government (and whatever you do there will be one of those) knows just how strong and widespread is the support for strong, effective action on climate change.
Wendy Tubman
August 19th 2010
re my last email - filling in all the boxes is only compulsory in the House of Representatives, of course. In the Senate you can just vote 1 Green above the line.
August 19th 2010
No, Wendy it's not an "appalling" choice. It's a simple choice. If you are locked into some ideological straitjacket and believe you are duty bound to vote for your traditional party, almost like a religious obligation, well then I suppose it might be appalling. But who is locked in an ideological straitjacket? Oh, that's right - it's the religious fundamentalists, the one-eyed, long-eared, flying purple people eaters. Can the so-called intelligent voters recall a few years of personal past experience, get their shit together and work out that we can have our cake and eat it too - for once. Vote for whoever you like in the number one spot, just make sure you put Mooney behind the Liberal guy. Don't send any either Tony to Canberra. Why would you want to?
Wendy Tubman
August 19th 2010
Yes Charlie - appalling. And, thanks, but I am neither 'locked into an ideological straitjacket' nor one of 'the religious fundamentalists, the one-eyed, long-eared, flying purple people eaters' - comments that, to be honest, I find insulting rather than amusing.

I do find it appalling that when it gets down to the pointy end of the ballot paper, I have the choice of Mooney (and I, probably more than many, have 'a few years of personal past experience' of Mooney's totally unacceptable behaviour and views) or someone who, by retaining the very marginal seat of Herbert for the Coalition, would contribute to the likelihood of an Abbott-led government. A real Sophie's choice as far as I'm concerned.

Bring on optional preferential voting (as we have at the State level) so that I can number as many boxes as I want to and not be forced to register a preference. And bring on, too, proportional representation, so that seats are allocated according to the number of votes each party wins.

More than happy to work for such changes to the voting system once Saturday is over - regardless of which major party forms a government.

August 19th 2010
Wendy, if as you say, you are neither one of those or one of them why choose to be insulted?
If you have fallen for Newspoll and whatever snake charmers the ALP has poked through the fence at you then it's logical that you'll retreat to the loving Labor fold in the face of ".... the likelihood of an Abbott-led government". But Wendy, since when did you take seriously anything (at all) that Labor politicians have spruiked in your direction in an election campaign? What was that you wrote in the letter to Premier Beattie when you told him you would be leaving the Labor Party and not coming back? Oh yes, you really told him.
When Madam Julia proves the actual bookmakers to be dead right and romps home with only a slightly reduced majority here's hoping your vote hasn't landed us with an entirely unnecessary Labor Member for Herbert. That really would be an insult.
Pat Coleman
August 20th 2010
Whatever happens, love you rebellious Maggie lefties , always have . And such brilliant singers among you too.

Love to you all
Pat Coleman
August 20th 2010
There's a hug waiting for you too Wendy in case you thought I left you out.
wendy Tubman
August 22nd 2010
Hey Pat

Guess you missed me front and centre (altos) in the Oratorio performance of Faure's Requiem and Haydn's Paukenmesse last week! (Good local - and possibly national – outcome eh!)
August 20th 2010
My sympathies for you all,the man with the rude Greek surname must not getin,lets hope Herbert will not be crucial For both Tony's
August 24th 2010
Ewan Jones

DFRDB pensions have been indexed since 1976. Indexed to the CPI.
Why should they be any different to aged pensions etc?

What do you think? Send us your comments.

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