Gaven – Penny Toland – Independent

Please take a moment to introduce yourself.
My name is Penny Toland and I am running as an independent in the Queensland State Election for the seat of Gaven. My background is in medical science and law with degrees in both. I work full time as a medical scientist and volunteer at a Community Legal Centre.

As an independent I feel I am best positioned to deliver true representation to the people of my electorate. As such I premise each answer below as my personal views but if elected I would be seeking the view of my electorate prior to voting on any legislation to ensure I am the direct voice of the voters.

What are your thoughts on coal seam gas?

I certainly share the concerns of many about the amount of water required and the disposal of the waste products.

What are your thoughts on the dredging of the great barrier reef?

As a national treasure we should be doing everything to protect the reef.

What are your thoughts on water?

The cost of water on the Gold Coast has been ridiculous. With the rising living costs crippling people we need to look at ways to reduce the cost of water for residents.

What are your thoughts on climate change?

What are your thoughts on renewable energy?

I think this is going to be an industry that will take us forward, creating new employment opportunities. This is certainly an area that we as Queenslanders need to embrace and invest in.

What are your thoughts on nuclear energy?

While nuclear energy is heralded as the ‘clean alternative’ I can’t imagine any electorate wishing to have a nuclear reactor in their suburb. I certainly wouldn’t want to live near one. There is also the issue of disposing of the waste that needs to be resolved.

What are your thoughts on public transport?

The biggest development in public transport on the Gold Coast in recent years is the Light Rail. While this has been heralded as a major achievement for the Gold Coast…it only services 16 stations which are coincidently all coastal suburbs.

For the residents of Gaven (a non-coastal suburb) the issue of affordable, available and reliable public transport remains unresolved. If elected I will actively pursue solutions…not run to the media to merely give the appearance of seeking a resolution.

What are your thoughts on public education?

I am a product of public education graduating from Helensvale State High School. I have since gone on to complete two university degrees so appreciate the importance of a strong public education system.

Education is about getting the best out of our youth and to level the playing field so regardless of your socio-economic background, the same opportunities should be made available to all.

What are your thoughts on the National Broadband Network?

Access to information is such a powerful tool and improving access through the NBN will be an extremely beneficial development for Australia. With my background in Health care I am excited about the developments in telehealth which would be greatly enhanced by the NBN.

What are your thoughts on High-Speed Rail?

The introduction of a high-speed rail line was a priority for the Federal Government and in principle would be a positive addition to Australia but given the estimated cost is in the billions I think the money could better be spent on improvements to public services.

What are your thoughts on abortion?

I am ‘pro-choice’ with an emphasis on informed decision making. Like any medical decision, there needs to be proper education as to any available alternatives.

Do you support or oppose gay marriage?

I support gay marriage but given the passionate views both for and against amending the Marriage Act I would want to have a specific forum in the electorate to discuss this matter before making a decision.

Do you support or oppose the legalisation of voluntary euthanasia?

Having studied medical law as one of my electives during my law degree and working in the medical field I think to legislate voluntary euthanasia would be extremely complex. Currently individuals are left with the option of withdrawing consent to treatment which as a consequence will potentially lead to a shortening of their life. Electing to be removed from a ventilator, refusing blood transfusions or more recently the case of an individual refusing to be fed – all became the basis of legal proceedings with the judiciary being the ultimate decision maker.

Will there be eligibility factors? How will these be determined? How will the legislation interact with insurance policies? These are just a few of the questions that need to be answered before taking a clear position on this.

Do you support or oppose the legalisation of marijuana?

I do not support legalisation of marijuana. Who ever coined the term ‘the soft drug’ for marijuana had clearly not been exposed to individuals that have subsequently developed schizo-effective type disorders after smoking marijuana.

What are your thoughts on campaign finance disclosure?

I think anything that increases the transparency of the political process is a good thing. Therefore requirements relating to campaign finance disclosure would be supported.

Do you support or oppose the reading of prayers to start each Parliamentary day, and why?

I neither support or oppose the reading of prayers. To me I see it as merely honouring a tradition, nothing more and nothing less.

On your particular electoral ticket, where are your preferences going, and why?

As an independent I will not be giving preferences to any other candidate. To give preferences goes against being an independent i.e. not aligned to any party.

Are there any local issues you are trying to highlight with your campaign?

Crime is becoming a major issue on the Gold Coast with suburbs in the Gaven Electorate increasingly being in the media for shootings and other serious crimes. We need a stronger police presence in this electorate and increased penalties for serious crimes.

Again public transport is an issue as mentioned above.

The National Health Reforms impact on the delivery of public health services will be a focus of this next term. I frankly do not trust those current members of parliament from both major parties that apparently did not see the payroll debacle coming. Given the significance of the changes we need members of parliament to be proactive and engaged in this process to ensure the delivery of healthcare is not compromised.

What do you think about the media’s coverage of the election so far?

I think its unfortunate that the majority of the coverage has been based on Bligh and Newman with very little coverage of candidates in the other 85 electorates. All this does is reinforce the perception that it is the voter that controls who is Premier when in reality that decision is an internal party matter. This perception was echoed in the federal arena when Gillard became PM which many Australians felt was not what they had voted for.

A comment made to me from a radio show host was that they had no interest in interviewing candidates unless they did something controversial. I think its disappointing that media officials feel that the public only wants to hear sensationalism, not about real issues.

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