Daughter of dead farmer's haunting question on Q and A
ALMOST all of the issues affecting the Toowoomba region were raised at some point during a panel discussion program held in the Empire Theatre last night.
ABC live television show Q&A was broadcast from Toowoomba as part of the network's ABC On The Road to Toowoomba, a week long visit by journalists and presenters.
Coal seam gas proved to be the most controversial issue with the family of the late George Bender, a cotton farmer who had led demonstrations against coal seam gas and took his own life on October 14, in attendance.
Mr Bender's youngest child and only daughter Helen Bender accused politicians of not listening.
"On Saturday we buried my father after struggling for 10 years against CSG and Linc Energy," she said.
"So when, when will farmers be given the right to say no to the CSG companies from coming on to their land, when?" she asked.
Shadow Minister for agriculture and rural affairs Joel Fitzgibbon said he believed the resource industry was too valuable to be stopped.
"That aspect of it is not going to change soon... it's too significant to the national economy," he said."
Rural Health Minister Fiona Nash said farmers should be able to say no.
"State government should be able to change what they need to be able to change to say no," she said.
Toowoomba Mayor Paul Antonio said he was concerned about agricultural land being targeted by resource companies.
"I don't personally think they ought to touch it," he said.
Ms Bender had the final say on that debate saying: "I don't think anyone is listening. I don't think the nation is listening and certainly I don't think any single one of you politicians have listened, nor cared, nor want to care. You're a turntable, you walk in, walk out, you talk the talk and you're are here for show. You are not listening."
Cr Antonio got one of the biggest cheers when he responded to a question about his offer to help resettle Syrian refugees in Toowoomba.
Cr Antonio also intervened in a debate between Ms Nash and Mr Fitzgibbon over climate change.
He suggested an inland railway could reduce the region's carbon footprint.
Rhonda Miles, the mother of Lachlan Miles, who suffers from uncontrollable seizures, raised the issue of medical cannabis.
Singer songwriter Katie Noonan said the issue was a "no brainer".
"If there's a source there that can help... why aren't we farming that and making profit from those things," she said.
Ms Nash said the government had undertaken steps to have cannabis grown for medicinal purposes.
The issue of obesity was also raised, with a questioner asking why Toowoomba Regional Council was charging fitness groups to use parks and why it had approved a sixth McDonald's restaurant, the controversial East Village Retail Development.
Cr Antonio defended council's actions on fighting the obesity issue and admitted to eating at McDonald's on the odd occasion.
Ms Nash said the government had programs to reduce obesity but said individuals needed to take responsibility for their own actions.
The controversial issue of daylight savings time was raised with a questioner asking: "Isn't it time the southern states abandoned the ridiculous concept of daylight savings time?"
Cr Antonio said he had experienced the time shift for one year and didn't support it.
Mr Fitzgibbons said daylight savings would happen over his "dead body".
"I'm happy where I am," he said.
Ms Noonan was the sole person in favour of daylight savings.
She finished the show with the 'Gratitude' which she dedicated to the Bender family.