Tense words between sitting member Chris Gulaptis (left) and Labor candidate Trent Gilbert at the Grafton Chamber of Commerce meet the candidates night.
Tense words between sitting member Chris Gulaptis (left) and Labor candidate Trent Gilbert at the Grafton Chamber of Commerce meet the candidates night. Tim Jarrett

Election heats up as candidates clash

THINGS are not as they should be when youth unemployment is 23 per cent yet a local service provider is saying it could fill 25 positions tomorrow if they had trained staff.

The topic sparked some tense moments at Wednesday night's candidates forum when Labor and National candidates for Clarence exchanged barbs over the reasons for high youth unemployment in the area.

Labor candidate Trent Gilbert accused Chris Gulaptis of "putting his foot in his mouth" after the Nationals MP suggested young people were "picky" when looking for employment.

Mr Gulaptis had again questioned the youth unemployment figures and repeated several comments made to him by young people from Clarence Youth Action about possible reasons for it.

"They said a lot of small businesses frowned upon employing young people," he said.

"And some (young people) don't want particular jobs in a small business, they want a high paying job where they can drink coffee all day.

"They are caught up in a social welfare trap where they get Centrelink and then wonder 'Well why should I get a job if I am already paid and am only going to be paid marginally more'?"

Who will you vote for in the seat of Clarence at the 2019 NSW Election?

This poll ended on 22 March 2019.

Current Results

STEVE CANSDELL - Shooters, Fishers and Farmers

31%

GREG CLANCY - Greens

4%

TRENT GILBERT - Labor

21%

CHRIS GULAPTIS - Nationals

29%

THOM KOTIS - Sustainable Australia

0%

DEBRAH NOVAK - Independent

12%

This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

However, CEO of Caringa Rachel Choy expressed frustration at Caringa's inability to partner with Grafton TAFE and provide certificate courses in disability.

Ms Choy wanted to know what the candidates would do to fix problems within the TAFE system if elected.

"Something about the system is terribly wrong and requires immediate addressing," she said

"Caringa will work with any elected candidate to ensure job opportunities within the NDIS continue to be offered to the local community, especially if TAFE will come to the party."

Shooters, Fishers and Farmers Party candidate Steve Cansdell said the problems stemmed from the inflexibility of the TAFE system and bureaucracy was to blame for situations such as Caringa's.

"The system is far too rigid and needs to be more flexible," he said.

"I really believe courses should be run on a needs basis, business could come and say we have a need, then TAFE could be more flexible and fit in a course rather than just running a certain amount of courses regardless of need."

RELATED: Two in a row for top of the Clarence ballot paper

Businesses unhappy with the state of the TAFE system should look to other registered training organisations to get better outcomes, independent candidate Debrah Novak said.

"If you aren't happy with TAFE - shop elsewhere," she said. "There are adult learning centres, there is country university, online learning and school-based traineeships."

Grafton Chamber of Commerce organised the forum at Grafton District Services Club.



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