Debate a no contest as MP declines

COWPER MP Luke Hartsuyker has declined an offer from Lyne Independent Rob Oakeshott to debate the Federal Government's carbon tax during one of Mr Oakeshott's free community forums.

Mr Hartsuyker said yesterday he wanted a large public debate dedicated only to this single topic in a large venue, with ample time allowed to canvass all the issues and for questions and answers.

Mr Oakeshott accepted Mr Hartsuyker's offer to debate pricing carbon with tax reform by inviting the Cowper MP to debate the issue both in the parliament and locally at one of six community forums being held in towns in Lyne over the next month.

These two-hour forums will be held at church halls, senior citizens' halls and function centres from August 8 to 11.

The Independent politician said they would cover ‘all topics, all comers,' including a price on carbon with tax reform, the upcoming tax forum, the economy, rising electricity prices, small business conditions, food security and any other issues people wanted to discuss.

The closest forum to Coffs Harbour will be held at Wauchope Senior Citizens Hall in High Street, Wauchope, from 6.30 to 8.30pm on August 8.

Mr Hartsuyker said the subject of the carbon tax demanded more than ‘a quick 10 minutes' in a two-hour session covering many topics and accused Mr Oakeshott of wanting to avoid a debate.

Mr Oakeshott has said the Parliament is the place to debate not only the carbon tax but the Coalition's Direct Action climate policy.

Mr Hartsuyker said Mr Oakeshott was “basically the government's representative on the North Coast”. Mr

Oakeshott has declined to debate Mr Hartsuyker outside his own electorate of Lyne.

In a letter to Mr Hartsuyker, he said:

“I look forward to a Private Members Bill from you; Opposition spokesman for Climate Action, Environment and Heritage Greg Hunt; leader of the Nationals Warren Truss or the leader of the Opposition Tony Abbott on this and seek your confirmation that you will put this policy to the Parliament in the coming three months so that a genuine parliamentary and community contest can occur.”

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