Gloucester Rotary Club's Meet the Upper Hunter Candidates for 2019 NSW State election

Melaine Dagg, Lee Watts, Mark Ellis, Tony Longeran , Michael Johnsen, Peter Markey and Richard Stretton meet up for the official drawing of the order of speech before the event. Photo Anne Keen
Melaine Dagg, Lee Watts, Mark Ellis, Tony Longeran , Michael Johnsen, Peter Markey and Richard Stretton meet up for the official drawing of the order of speech before the event. Photo Anne Keen

Gloucester Rotary Club's Meet the Upper Hunter Candidates for 2019 NSW State election

Well, it's official. There are eight candidates running for the Upper Hunter seat in the State election to be held later this month.

Nominations have closed, the ballot has been drawn and the list is a follows:

  1. Calum Blair, Sustainable Australia (NSW)
  2. Lee Watts, Shooters, Fishers and Farmers
  3. Michael Johnsen, The Nationals
  4. Claire Robertson, Animals Justice Party
  5. Tony Lonergan, The Greens
  6. Richard Stretton, Christian Democratic Party (Fred Nile Group)
  7. Mark Ellis, Liberal Democrats
  8. Melanie Dagg, Country Labor

Prior to the official listed being released, Gloucester Rotary Club attempted to contact as many candidates as possible for a Meet the Candidates event at the Gloucester Country Club on Friday, March 8; no mean feat, considering the nominations didn't close until Wednesday, March 6.

Regardless, six of the eight candidates attended the evening, with Lee Watts, Michael Johnsen, Tony Lonergan, Richard Stretton, Mark Ellis and Melaine Dagg each given 10 minutes to talk about their campaign ideals before attendees where given a chance to ask their own questions.

According to event organiser Rotarian Peter Markey, around 40 people attended event which the candidates said was their best event so far, with some good questions from the floor.

Gloucester residents listen to what the Upper Hunter candidates have to say. Photo Peter Markey

Gloucester residents listen to what the Upper Hunter candidates have to say. Photo Peter Markey

He said the questions were mostly regarding youth, education and business survival the Gloucester area, as well as questions about each candidate's party view and personal view of what they see as the future for Gloucester.

Prior to the evening, each candidate in attendance was asked for a brief statement about their ideals in general or Gloucester specific.

Lee Watts: "The Upper Hunter electorate has been forgotten by both major parties. It's the powerhouse of the State with little in return."

Micheal Johnsen: "Judge me on my delivery," with major roads, like the Bucketts Way and the Thunderbolts Way, to be returned to the State for upgrading and maintaining. 

Tony Longeran: "For me this is a climate change election. After decades of inaction, we are now in a climate crisis. Scientists are telling us we have a small window of opportunity to act decisively."

Richard Stretton: "Family values and moral integrity. I believe that this can only be done if we as a nation return to the Godly principles which were used to establish this nation in 1901."

Mark Ellis: "Smaller government, lower taxes, less regulation, voluntary euthanasia, legalisation of marijuana, to name a few."

Melanie Dagg: "It's about priorities. What to fund and where the funding comes from. The State is too focused on Sydney and we need to get our fair share, a better allocation of resources." 

Attempts are being made by Nine to get a statement from Calum Blair and Claire Robertson.

The 2019 NSW State election will be held Saturday, March 23 from 8am - 6pm. Early voting (formerly known as pre-polling) will be held at St Paul's Anglican Church Gloucester, Hume Street between March 16 and 21, Saturday from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Wednesday and Friday from 8am to 6pm, and Thursday from 8am to 8pm.