Criticisms flew in every direction at Monday night’s Bligh candidates forum, convened by the Sydney Gay and Lesbian Business Association.

The incumbent, Independent Clover Moore, accused the Labor and Liberal parties of voting together more often than you would think.

In my 15 years in parliament, no ALP member has ever crossed the floor on a matter of principle, and only on two occasions have the Liberals, she said.

But Labor’s candidate, Barri Phatarfod, argued that the party is not a static being, and that the criss-crossing of floors is done in the party room.

However, the Greens candidate, Anita Ceravolo, interjected at this point, declaring that the Greens have done more to reform the ALP than the left wing of the ALP.

The exchange was typical of the night’s debate.
Liberal contender Shayne Mallard, who was the first candidate to speak, described Bligh as a squeaky wheel electorate which he said only received attention from the state government when there was a problem. There were also, he claimed, two approaches to policing in the state: a tough on drugs policy in Cabramatta and a soft approach in Bligh.

Phatarfod was more focused on gay and lesbian issues in her address, saying that if she was elected, she would push for more lesbian and gay support services in the country, compulsory training in GLBT issues for health professionals and a clean slate bill for homosexual offences committed before decriminalisation in 1984.

A more radical election promise was to come from independent candidate Malcolm Duncan, who addressed the audience in a kilt. Duncan said he would hold a plebiscite of Bligh voters if elected, and that if 60 percent of respondents agreed, he would push for drugs to be legalised within the electorate.

Drugs were also a concern for the last speaker, Gary Burns, who declared that police sniffer dogs were assaulting innocent Australians and that drugs were a medical and psychological problem rather than a police issue. He also spoke on the anti-gay vilification legislation, which he said does not work, and will not work until it is added to the Crimes Act.

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