The Cult of Malcolm
August 14, 2013
Richard for 2011

Election forum sees focus on the NBN ... Wild claims light-up the Paddo RSL as Wentworth candidates strut their stuff ... Anita Senaratna was there 

Liberal and Labor: hammer and tongs at the Paddo RSL (pic: NewsLocal)

IT was nearly a full house at Paddo RSL on Monday night (August 12) for an election forum for the seat of Wentworth.

Most of the attendees were in business attire, looking as though they'd come straight from serious jobs in the city.

Wentworth Courier editor James Law was in charge, moderating the discussion between the five candidates: current member for Wentworth Malcolm Turnbull (Liberal), Di Smith (Labor), Matt Robertson (Greens), Marsha Foxman (Palmer United) and last-minute addition Beresford Thomas (Christian Democrats).

The night kicked off with three-minute speeches from the candidates, all of whom went well over the time limit, outlining their plans for the electorate, before Law posed a few questions from the Courier and its readers - who had written in via email and social media prior to the debate.

However, things heated-up towards the end when the audience was invited to fire its own questions.

One query about youth initiatives led Turnbull to comment that the Labor Party had "penalised" the electorate for voting in a Liberal member, referring to the de-funding of the North Bondi Surf Lifesaving Club upgrade as an "act of spite."

The issue that garnered the most passionate response was not asylum seekers, but the NBN.

While Smith, a former Country Practice star, was shouted down angrily after saying that the Labor Party "looks to the future" with the NBN, Turnbull described the project as "one of the greatest scandals in our history". 

Labor's Di Smith on the campaign trail

Foxman's policies focused for the most part on big business, generating wealth and operating under the logic of "Well, the two major parties are failing so the alternative must be Clive Palmer". 


Thomas seemed unsure about policy details, instead preferring to quote the Bible or refer to films or documentaries to back-up most of his claims.

The debate was raging over Twitter as well as on the stage, as audience members were invited to live-tweet with the hashtag #wentyforum.

In summary: Smith was probably the most charismatic and likeable; Robertson made the most sense; nobody really cared about Foxman and Thomas; and even though Tony Abbott's negativity seems to have rubbed off on Turnbull, he got the most applause of the night.

After 11 years in the seat, Wentworth has forgotten Utegate and Godwin Grech and Turnbull's earlier performance as Opposition leader. It is not likely to change its mind this time around. 

Reporter: Anita Senaratna 

Article originally appeared on Local news from postcode 2011 (
See website for complete article licensing information.