ACT elections are often dull affairs, with little change in representation. Not this time.
As pressure mounts in the Senate race and independents pit themselves against incumbent Zed Seselja, Region Media will broadcast a live candidate debate on Tuesday, 3 May at 5 pm.
Senator Katy Gallagher and Senator Zed Seselja will participate, along with independents David Pocock and Kim Rubenstein, Greens candidate Tjanara Goreng Goreng and United Australia Party candidate James Savoulidis.
The choice of candidates is based on their polling thus far and is intended to represent a broad spectrum of political opinions.
The debate will be held in front of an invited audience and streamed live via our Facebook page. Region Media group editor Genevieve Jacobs will chair the hour-long event and there will be no speeches.
We’ll accept questions via our Facebook stream, although these will be moderated before going to the guests. The focus is strongly on local Canberra issues.
The latest available polling shows this year’s Senate contest is closer than expected. Both the Greens and Mr Pocock have recorded a strong showing while Senator Seselja failed to return a quota in polling conducted by Climate 200, which has funded the two independents.
Incumbent Labor Senator for the ACT Katy Gallagher looks certain to retain her seat.
However, the polling failed to fully account for recently announced preference deals, which have always been key to the second ACT Senate seat.
Labor has preferenced independent candidates David Pocock and Kim Rubenstein ahead of the Greens, while the independents look set to gain from Greens preferences ahead of Labor. It’s understood Mr Pocock will suggest voter preferences flow to the only other independent.
The Liberals will not preference anyone; instead, voters are being asked to number ‘1 Liberal’ and then to complete a formal ballot in the order of their choice.
Katy Gallagher has drawn the top position on the ballot paper, followed by the Sustainable Australia Party and the United Australia Party, whose candidate is James Savoulidis. The Liberal Party is fourth, followed by David Pocock and fellow independent Kim Rubenstein in sixth position.
The Australian Progressives will hold seventh position and the Greens will be eighth on the ballot paper, followed by Legalise Cannabis Australia, the Animal Justice Party and Informed Medical Options Party. Fuxin Li is an ungrouped candidate on the ballot.
There’s also been a very Canberra kerfuffle over corflutes depicting David Pocock unbuttoning his shirt to reveal a Greens t-shirt. The images are part of a campaign by Advance Australia, and the Australian Electoral Commission says they are permissible under the rules governing electoral advertising.
Advance Australia was also responsible for the posters of Xi Jinping apparently voting Labor which appeared around Canberra several weeks ago.
To watch the debate or submit your questions, click here.