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Controversy over questionnaire

HOT TOPIC: Chair of the WRA's election advisory committee Andrew Marshall with council candidate Jan Clifford and a copy of Jan's completed questionnaire.
HOT TOPIC: Chair of the WRA's election advisory committee Andrew Marshall with council candidate Jan Clifford and a copy of Jan's completed questionnaire.

QUESTIONNAIRES sent out by the election advisory committee (EAC) of Whitsunday Ratepayers Association (WRA) have come under scrutiny in the past week, with some candidates stating they do not wish to participate in the survey and questioning its intentions. EAC chairman Andrew Marshall says the purpose of the exercise is simply to gather information from candidates and present it in a uniform manner to the WRA for their 700 or so members to make an assessment.

"Applying for a job as mayor is probably the only job in the world where you can get $120,000 salary plus $50,000 'expenses', plus car and perks, without an interview, without a performance guarantee and without a trial period," Mr Marshall said.

Mr Marshall said candidates who didn't answer the questions might either not be capable of doing the job or may have something to hide.

"If candidates want to make excuses for not answering a few simple questions, then that's their right. Our right is to shun them at the polls," he said.

Meanwhile some candidates who have completed the survey have also received a "poison pen letter" via email from an anonymous writer who suggests that to align themselves with the WRA would do them more harm than good.

It seems candidates are therefore in the age-old situation of feeling doomed if they do and doomed if they don't.

What the Mayoral candidates said

Will you respond to the WRA questionnaire?

"Yes. Because I'm running for mayor I'm under more scrutiny and with any organisation that's going to pose questions I'm going to endeavour to answer them." - Jennifer Whitney

"No. If we are elected and we see the audited books we'll know exactly what else we can achieve immediately. It would be premature of us to promise anything else without that knowledge, however any ratepayer that doesn't support us and our promises is doing themselves and their community an enormous disservice." - Grigor Taylor

"No. I didn't think in all fairness I should fill it out because I'm here to represent the whole region. I think the preamble to it wasn't very polite either." - Mike Brunker

"No. I've told them I'll have nothing to do with them. I think they're an organisation without credibility. Firstly I think it's a pre-determined set-up for Jennifer Whitney. I also think there's a flaw in the expectations of the WRA and that is they want their collective vote to count more than others across the region. That creates a two-tiered voting system that I don't support." - Tony Maine

DIVISION 1

"I'm happy to answer the questions but I don't want to be endorsed by any particular group when I'm there to look after the community as a whole. Also the questions are not professionally written - often an answer is implied, which I think is unfortunate." - Louise Mahony

"Yes. Of course I'm going to answer it. I know it's questions that any person in the community might want answered." - Dan Van Blarcom

"I have responded to it. I think every group has a right to put in their questions and as much as you agree or disagree with that group, if you're going to run for council you need to respect the concerns of those citizens." - Kelli Medford

Yes. Done, dusted and submitted. I thought it was very interesting. However there were a lot of questions where there weren't clear 'yes/no' answers because you really needed to look deeper. At the end of the day the ratepayers association is a group of people who have every right to know what we think. We represent them and if we are not prepared to answer then what are we hiding?" - Jan Clifford

DIVISION 2

"I will not be replying to the Ratepayers Association as I do not think being on their list of preferred candidates will be an advantage as many voters in the community see the Ratepayers Association's, Election Advisory Committee as being very arrogant trying to dictate to the voters who they should or should not vote for, when voters should be able to make up their own minds who they want to represent them for the next four years in council." - Rogin Taylor

"Yes. If anybody wants to ask me a question I feel it's my obligation to answer, whether it's the ratepayers association or anyone else. We're the ones who are going to represent them. We should answer their questions." - Alan Dufty

"Yes. I have already. I think the more people know, the more informed the choices that they make." - Nigel Ralph

"Yes, I already have filled it out. I would fill in anyone's survey whether it is CWA or the PCYC. I don't think there is any questions I shouldn't answer. I don't think there is anything people shouldn't know about the candidates they are voting for. Candidates have obligations to answer people's questions in my opinion." - Kevin Collins

"As I only nominated on Monday I haven't sighted the questionnaire so I need to have a look at it to decide whether I will or not. I think they've got their hearts in the right place when they start asking questions because they want to get the right candidates to suit the area." - Mario Demartini

"No. I guess the reason for that is they're fairly clear who they're putting forward for their mayoral candidate and they're looking to get behind a team of candidates who are supportive of that. I also found there was an innuendo of having something to hide and I found that offensive. My life is an open book. If they want to endorse a candidate perhaps they should pick one from their own organisation and have that person run for them on those issues." - Carol Van der Gaag

"Yes. I want to fill it in and I think it's a good idea because it gives them a chance to assess the candidates." - Andrew Finlay

DIVISION 3

"No. The survey itself wasn't too bad but it was the fact that at the end it said if you don't fill this in it will be deemed you have something to hide. I am sure they didn't mean it to be taken like that but I'm not the only one who baulked at it." - Kerry Roulston

"No. I'm just not going to do it. I really don't go very well with threats and as far as I'm concerned this is basically a threat. I don't see who has elected this organisation as judge and jury. I'm chucking myself out there for the electorate to vote for me not this organisation that has elected themselves - six or seven hundred people saying they're the voice of the shire." - Alan Pershouse

"I've not received it and I haven't received the poison pen letter either. I don't know whether I would [complete the questionnaire] or not. I'm concerned that there's already so much heat attached to it." - Lynne Erricker

"No, because what right do they have to be questioning me? I'm running and financially backing myself in this division as an independent. I'm not aligned with any political party or any group. I don't see how five people on their panel can sit there and make judgements on me for 3,500 people to vote for. I've been here for 44 years and the panel of five have no idea of what I have achieved or done in the town." - John 'Sarge' Collins

Candidate Jeff Boyle was unavailable for comment yesterday.


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