Labor debate no-shows reveal reasons for absence
Two key Sunshine Coast Labor candidates have blamed "family stuff" and personal matters for dodging election debates this week - and a third says the party had told him not to attend.
The failure of Labor's Caloundra hopeful Jason Hunt, Noosa's Mark Denham and Glass House candidate Brent Hampstead to attend the debates this week has sparked criticism on the Sunshine Coast.
Mr Hunt said it had been because he had "some family stuff he was doing" on Tuesday night - and Mr Denham said "something personal came up".
Mr Hampstead blamed his no-show at last night's live-streamed event on Labor's head office, saying he was not willing to go against his party's wishes.
Noosa Chamber of Commerce president Rob Neely told the crowd at the event on Wednesday night: "If you can't turn up to meet the candidates, why on earth would you expect any of us to vote for you?"
The crowd loudly applauded the comments.
Mr Neely added yesterday it was vital candidates who wanted to represent their community turned up to talk to them, and those that failed to do so "don't deserve to represent the community".
"They shouldn't be doing that, they should be turning up and arguing their point," Mr Neely said.
"We want to know who is going to represent us."
But Mr Denham said he had spent all day Wednesday preparing for the Noosa debate, before he was forced to withdraw due to a personal matter.
"Something personal came up last night (Wednesday night)," he said.
"I had prepared all day to go to that event … and then something came up and I couldn't go."
Mr Denham said the Noosa Chamber of Commerce and Industry was supposed to be "apolitical" and the chamber should sanction Mr Neely and apologise to all candidates who were unable to attend.
Mr Neely "totally" rejected the candidate's comment.
Caloundra candidate Mr Hunt - who did not appear in Tuesday night's online Caloundra debate despite repeated attempts to contact him - explained on Thursday he had "some family stuff he was doing" and had made a decision to prioritise that over the event.
"That's the only one (forum) that I haven't attended," he said.
In Gympie, Labor's candidate Geoff Williams also failed to attend a debate, organised by Gympie Chamber of Commerce and livestreamed by The Gympie Times on Wednesday night.
He told The Gympie Times it was "nothing political, just a family matter".
The Labor Party has been contacted for an official response.