Ipswich MP Jen Howard and Ipswich West MP Jim Madden have both pulled out of the Queensland Times' upcoming election forums.
Ipswich MP Jen Howard and Ipswich West MP Jim Madden have both pulled out of the Queensland Times' upcoming election forums.

Labor no-show is not a good look

OPINION: LESS than a week out from our Queensland Times live election forums, we have learned that Ipswich incumbent Jennifer Howard will not be taking part.

It follows the news from Labor's Jim Madden a couple of weeks ago that he would not be taking part in our Ipswich West debate, also to be held on October 26.

These, as you may be aware, are not isolated cases of Labor candidates deciding not to take part in the series of election debates being held across the state by our News network of publications.

Labor candidates across the board have been pulling out, in what you could be fooled into believing to be a tactic designed to avert risk leading into the election.

I asked my colleagues at News Regional mastheads across the state to confirm how many Labor candidates have pulled out of their forums.

So far, not including Ms Howard and Mr Madden, we are up to seven, with an eighth candidate in doubt for Wednesday night up in Bundaberg.

If you ask me, it is a very conservative move for a non-conservative party, and effectively means our Labor incumbents will avoid being put under a microscope before an election in which they are both very likely to retain their seats.

All I can say is that this goes against my idea of democracy.

I think it is also a good time for me to point out that, as moderator of the two Ipswich forums set down for next Monday, I have nothing but the interests of Ipswich at heart, and have no intention of favouring one party over another.

No outside influences tell me what to say or what to ask candidates, except for our readers, who have been allowed to suggest questions for the debates.

Candidates will be debating issues affecting the people of Ipswich and Ipswich West - plain and simple.

I believe both Jennifer Howard and Jim Madden, from our years working across Ipswich on various stories of public interest, are also very ware of our impartiality on such matters.

They also know that at the core of our debates is the need to hold our candidates up to the spotlight so that the public can make an informed decision on October 31, and I can only imagine it would be disappointing for them not to be a part of that process.

Ipswich's state and federal seats may have swung this way and that over the years, but generally speaking, and especially in recent times, we have been a Labor stronghold.

Our Premier went to school here, and represents another working class area just down the road.

Where is the loyalty?

Our forums will continue on as planned next Monday, with Ipswich West up first at 6.30pm and Ipswich to follow at 7.30pm.

And yes, Jim and Jennifer, you are still allowed to join us if there is a change of heart.