Electricity prices, police re-engineering, gun laws and just who could deliver what were the key topics at Wednesday night’s Young Witness Cootamundra by-election Q&A forum at the Young Town Hall.
This was the last opportunity for the public to put questions to the candidates before they go to the polls on October 14.
Four out of the six candidates attended the forum – Country Labor's Charlie Sheahan, The Greens' Jeff Passlow, The National's Steph Cooke and The Shooters, Fishers and Farmers' (SFF) Matt Stadtmiller.
The Q&A forum had more than 5000 views online, with many viewers firing tough questions at the candidates.
Steph Cooke was under the pump for most of the night, with Mr Sheahan, Mr Stadtmiller and audience members criticising how the National Party has handled council amalgamations, rising electricity prices, local roads and Katrina Hodgkinson’s retirement, which triggered the by-election.
“The one thing I know is that the Nationals deliver. Since 2011, the Nationals have delivered $207mil worth of funding for projects in the Cootamundra electorate,” she said.
Mr Sheahan was in a fighting mood and gave short shrift to suggestions that his Party does nothing for the bush but received favourable reactions to his calls for a new Police station to be built in Young.
“The National’s were not representing us fairly. We were not getting our fair share,” Mr Sheahan said.
“These are the issues that the National’s have failed and failed and failed to address.”
The clear debate winner on the evening, according to the online audience, was Mr Stadtmiller, many praising the SFF’s policy to build two new high efficiency low emissions power stations in the Hunter region.
“I don’t think the National Party have done the right thing by the people of the Cootamundra electorate,” he said.
“We have power prices at Cowra Breakout River Meats going up $1.2mil. It’s just not good enough.”
Greens’ candidate Jeff Passlow highlighted the need for better health services and to address the unemployment rate.
"I think there are many, many issues that The Greens Party can throw a torch on and actually make a big difference," he said.