Five things we learnt from Noosa debate
It was all action at Sunshine Beach Surf Club on Wednesday night as the always-engaged Noosa community crammed in to get a glimpse of their options on the ballot paper.
Three of the six candidates for the October 31 state election showed up, Greens' hope Rhonda Prescott, incumbent independent MP Sandy Bolton and LNP young gun James Blevin.
There was plenty of spice in the debate at times and crowd members were quick to make clear their support.
Here's five things we learnt from the debate:
1. Passion for politics:
They show it time and again, up there in Noosa, that they have a passion for politics and are highly engaged.
It was clear from the start, the cheers erupting for the three candidates, that no pandemic could dilute that devotion.
While not enough to make a clear read on the result, thanks in part to coronavirus restrictions on audience size, it was evident several of the main players in the poll were in the room.
Plenty had written off an independent's chance of ever taking the seat, and it happened.
Whether there is enough appetite, or need, for change in Noosa remains to be seen.
The appeal of the progressive paradise remaining independent could be too much for some to walk away from at the booths, but whatever the result, it's always fascinating in Noosa, as the crowds prove time and again to be some of the most engaged in the region.
2. Blue side's reinvigoration:
You'd be hard pressed to find more different candidates than the two the LNP has most recently stood in Noosa.
Young blood James Blevin represented a significant shift from the long-term former MP Glen Elmes who was toppled by Ms Bolton in 2017.
Fresh-faced, Mr Blevin had a mixed night on the floor, but one can't help but think he'll be all the better for the experience.
A smooth opening introduction led into some signs of inexperience.
Leaning on a crutch of consultation at times, instead of having a clear position, showed an eagerness not to upset, but opened him up to attack.
Mr Blevin was clear in his point-making, but at times was too focused on the party lines, rather than applying them locally.
But he warmed to the occasion, throwing a few jabs which culminated in a fiery exchange with Ms Bolton over the Noosa TAFE site and criticisms of other inaction.
He was given plenty of support from loyal followers in the room, and showed he will be one to watch, if not this year than in campaigns to come, as he builds on the experience.
Displaying clear business nous, and strong political grounding, if he's able to unshackle himself a little and take a stronger position in some areas he should endear himself further and expect him to be a significant factor in the outcome of the vote.
Mr Blevin would be ill-advised to walk away from the game if unsuccessful, with all the ingredients there to be a quality politician.
3. Sandy can still swat them away:
A certain confidence comes with having knocked off a long-sitting LNP member convincingly after preferences, doing the unthinkable and winning the Pomona booth as an independent along the way.
Having lost a mayoral race by only a few hundred votes in 2016, Ms Bolton didn't slide away, instead setting her sights higher.
The smiling assassin, her disarming nature made way at times for a sharp slapdown delivered by a slick operator not to be underestimated.
Mr Blevin took his shots, but had his ears clipped in the process, particularly over Noosa TAFE, the river, and general criticisms of inaction.
When asked what they would do for business in the region, Mr Blevin quite rightly outlined the need to diversify the economy and attract suitable businesses to the area.
The answer was taken apart as mere motherhood statements by Ms Bolton, who seized what hadn't appeared much of an opportunity at first, to hammer home what she framed as a better understanding of the electorate, its needs, and how they could be met.
She stood proudly on the work she'd undertaken in parliament and in the electorate, and her rallying cry to keep Noosa independent was met with open arms and cheers.
She'll be a tough one to unseat after just one term, and doesn't appear to be letting complacency settle in based on Wednesday night.
4. Green grab at big business:
In arguably one of the more progressive patches of the southeast, it was no surprise to find plenty of affection for Greens' candidate Rhonda Prescott.
She received warm welcomes and plenty of applause throughout the night, even in the company of candidates with some vocal, hardcore supporter groups in the room.
Ms Prescott was clear on the party's policies and plans, and made no excuses for their dedication to clawing back more money from major mining companies and the big banks to deliver real benefits for the community.
She outlined her ambition, if elected, to ban political donations, as she said it would lead to "better policy outcomes".
She was also firm on her position on several social issues, a traditional strong point of the party, and pointed to the importance of protecting Noosa's natural environment, which was relied upon heavily by many industries.
Parking came up on the night, opening the door for Ms Prescott to push her commitment to delivering free public transport, more mobile electric vehicles and getting more people on pushbikes and out of cars.
"No one here has anything to fear that we will raise your taxes," she assured the crowd.
She'll be hoping to build on the party's 2017 result in an environmentally-conscious region, after Phillip Jenkins only managed to pull 11.57 per cent of first preferences.
It was a far cry from the 2015 result, which ended up with Glen Elmes prevailing over Joe Shlegeris, who ended up with more than 41 per cent of votes after preferences.
5. Where they stand:
The quickfire round broke up the evening, and revealed plenty, even with only very few words.
Here's where the candidates stood on:
Pro-choice regarding abortion?
Rhonda Prescott: Yes
James Blevin: Yes
Sandy Bolton: Yes
Support for a public sex offender registry:
Sandy Bolton: Needed to consult stakeholders
James Blevin: Yes
Rhonda Prescott: Conditional, no
Any previous political party affiliation?
Rhonda Prescott: No
James Blevin: No
Sandy Bolton: Never
They also revealed their positions on euthanasia, with Sandy Bolton highlighting her commitment to the cause, and the effort she'd undertaken to have the issue properly debated in parliament.
Mr Blevin said he would need to consult with the community, and vote according to the community's wishes.
Ms Prescott said she supported change to the legislation, and said Noosa was overwhelmingly in favour of voluntary assisted dying.
"The time for consultation is over," she said.
"I just hope this gets done and gets done soon."
It shapes as another fascinating race in Noosa, with others to play a part including Mark Denham (Labor), Darrell Redford (Animal Justice Party) and Tracey Bell-Henselin (One Nation).