Jaymes Diaz cut-out at the Greenway election forum / Pic: Phil Rogers Source: Supplied
Liberal candidate for Greenway, Jaymes Diaz gets grilled by Ten reporter John Hill. Here are the highlights. Courtesy Channel Ten
THE elusive Jaymes Diaz was a no-show at a federal election forum for the federal seat of Greenway last night.
With about 100 locals in the audience at Blacktown RSL Club, candidates fielded questions on costs of living, local business, paid parental leave, coal seam gas, childcare, party preferences and how they would represent the interests of Greenway on the national stage.
However it was difficult to avoid the elephant in the room in the absence of Mr Diaz, who is currently favoured to win the marginal seat.
DIAZ DODGES QUESTIONS AT COMMUNITY FORUM
The other candidates posed with a cardboard cutout of the infamous Liberal, while members of the audience called him a coward for not showing up.
Mr Diaz made an embarrassing gaffe earlier this month when he was unable to name the key points in the Coalition's border protection policy.
Anthony Belcastro, candidate for Katter's Australia Party, took it upon himself to pose the question on everyone lips - "Where is Jaymes Diaz?"
"Here we have a candidate who wants to take your voice to Canberra and what do we end up with - an empty chair," he concluded.
Sitting Labor MP Michelle Rowland was keen to point out her list of achievements over the past three years including grants secured for community projects such as Com4Unity, increased funding for local schools, the redevelopment of Blacktown Hospital and the arrival of the National Broadband Network.
TEN's John Hill talks to Liberal candidate for Greenway, Jaymes Diaz. Courtesy Channel Ten
"In short I believe in equality of opportunity and I don't believe you should be limited by the postcode you grew up in," she said.
"I've delivered on every promise I made in my maiden speech to parliament."
Ms Rowland took aim at the generosity of the Coalition's proposed paid parental leave scheme.
"I don't think it is socially equitable," she said.
"It is more important to maintain our existing scheme as it is being used and it is affordable."
All candidates at the forum made a commitment against coal seam gas mining and promised to push for increased child care funding.
Chris Brentin from the Greens defended the carbon tax while arguing Australia's future lies in the use of renewable energy.
"We care about people and we care about the environment and the harmony between the both of them," he said.
"Clean energy is going to create 70,000 new jobs for western Sydney."
The heated debate had its lighter moments, including when Palmer United Party's Jodie Wootton was forced to defend Clive Palmer's plan to build Titanic 2 in China.
While Mr Diaz never responded to his forum invitation, Tom Lillicrap from the Australian Sex Party and Allan Green from the Christian Democratic Party declined the opportunity to attend.