The Glebe Society hosted a ‘Meet the Candidates’ event at Glebe Town Hall on Friday 27 February. Candidates for the seat of Balmain were invited to attend and speak with the local community.

All candidates who had registered in time were invited, including Verity Firth (ALP), Patrick Fogarty (Australian Cyclists Party), Lyndon Gannon (Liberal) and Jamie Parker (Greens). It was disappointing that Lyndon Gannon did not respond to our repeated requests to attend, and as a result, attendees did not have the benefit of hearing where he stood on a range of important matters.

Each candidate spoke for about 10 minutes, and they all addressed the questions we had put to them. They then answered a range of questions on local issues and issues of relevance to all NSW citizens (such as voluntary euthanasia and logging of native forests). These questions were gathered from the audience and posed to candidates by Glebe Society President, Ted McKeown, who chaired the meeting.

‘Meet the Candidates’ at Glebe Town Hall (L to R: Ted McKeown, Patrick Fogarty, Verity Firth, Jamie Parker) (image: Lorel Adams)
‘Meet the Candidates’ at Glebe Town Hall (L to R: Ted McKeown, Patrick Fogarty, Verity Firth, Jamie Parker) (image: Lorel Adams)

In broad terms, the responses of the candidates to our specific questions were very similar. They all supported the provision of public housing in Glebe, and abhorred the sell-off of public housing stock in The Rocks and Millers Point. They were all prepared to commit to the retention and appropriate use of Glebe Island Bridge as a pedestrian and cycle way, and they were all prepared to endorse the Planning for People charter. They all supported the retention of the Wentworth Park Sporting Complex as a public park, and they all took the  view that the Glebe Society has consistently taken about the deficiencies in the Bays Precinct planning process, particularly the lack of community participation. And they all abhorred the de-funding of women’s refuges and the perceived insensitivity of their administration by private sector Government-appointed agencies.

The major difference between the candidates was in relation to WestConnex, which was strongly opposed by Jamie Parker of the Greens and Patrick Fogarty of the Australian Cyclists’ Party, both of whom advocated for enhanced public transport rather than freeway construction. Verity Firth had to deal with a considerable amount of audience scepticism in putting the ALP’s case for a ‘partial’ WestConnex, with the M4 being routed ‘into the CBD’ in a manner reminiscent of the 1960-style radial freeways.

About 80 people attended. The mood of the meeting was respectful, but the questions they posed indicated the depth of feeling about a number of local issues and issues of wider significance.