Candidates get stuck in to big local issues

Shana Morgan

QUESTION TIME: Australian Country Alliance’s Julian Fidge answers questions from Greens’ supporters

FARMERS struggling with rates, water and keeping young people in work were chief among the worries of Ovens Valley voters on Monday.

About 70 people attended the Wangaratta Club to quiz candidates for more than two hours as part of a forum hosted by the Victorian Farmers Federation’s Wangaratta branch.

The Nationals’ Tim McCurdy, Greens’ Jamie McCaffrey, Australian Country Alliance’s (ACA) Dr Julian Fidge and independent Ray Dyer answered public questions, while Labor candidate Gail Cholosznecki was an apology.

The candidates heard farming families are struggling to make a living, meaning they cannot afford high council rates and are left with a shortage of young farmers.

Mr McCurdy said rate rises were unsustainable, but is against capping the costs.

“The answer is getting into the councils and making sure there’s a model that they have to work to that keeps their costs down, because at the moment councils can be unaccountable,” he said.

He also turned some responsibility back onto farmers, who “are our worst own enemy”.

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