Crime, jobs, attracting large industries and planning for growth in western Bendigo were hotly debated topics by Bendigo West candidates at a Bendigo Advertiser forum on Tuesday night.
Incumbent Labor MP Maree Edwards, Liberal candidate Kevin Finn, Greens candidate Laurie Whelan and Animal Justice Party candidate Marilyn Nuske answered a number of readers’ questions posted on the Bendigo Advertiser Facebook page.
Mr Finn claimed “crime was out of control in Victoria” and had a disagreement with Ms Edwards on crime figures and the number of front line police employed since Labor came to power in 2014.
What all candidates agreed on was the scourge that was family violence.
“It’s the biggest law and order issue across the state, the country and the globe,” Ms Edwards said.
Ms Nuske, a family lawyer, said there was currently limited education for the perpetrators of crime.
***Watch the live debate below***
“It’s not enough to be saying that 60-odd people died from domestic violence so far this year – we know that – we need to be looking at solutions, supporting the services that are helping women flee domestic violence,” she said.
On the issue of attracting industry to the region, Mr Finn said a number of smaller, specialised business parks could perhaps be a solution after the City of Greater Bendigo’s failed attempts to develop a business park in Marong.
Ms Edwards said Bendigo, and Castlemaine had a strong manufacturing industry, despite what its perceived.
“We've never opposed a business park, it's just that (Carter family land) was not a suitable location,” she said.
Mr Whelan said the growth area in central and northern Victoria was renewables.
“It’s about building niche businesses to services that are already established,” he said.
Growth in Maiden Gully and Marong was not matched by infrastructure provision, Mr Finn said, with Marong Primary School waiting for money for a development and Maiden Gully for funds to draw up development plans.
Ms Edwards said she was committed to both projects and Mr Whelan said they should be a priority.
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