Climate change and a so-called "crisis of government" were hot topics for locals meeting with independent candidate for New England Adam Blakester at the Riverside garden on Thursday.
Running a campaign he describes as "doing democracy, not politics", Mr Blakester is touring the region intent on developing "a baker's dozen" of policies based on the desires of voters.
Speaking to around 20-30 locals, Mr Blakester asked for a show of hands on the importance of climate change policies.
"Several people said ‘How many hands am I allowed to put up?’" he said.
"It’s telling that climate change has become an issue that people think they can believe in or not - as if it’s the tooth fairy - whereas it’s a biophysical system, a planetary-scale system that is measurable. It’s a question of understanding it or not as opposed to a question of believing in it or not."
"These are not issues that should be decided based on personal opinion. The future of farming, the water cycle; these are issues that require some of the most knowledgeable, experienced, well expertised people in our country to lead on them."
After working in the renewable energy industry for 20 years, Mr Blakester is excited by the developments in our area, and to see solar and wind storage becoming more cost effective than coal fired power stations.
"That doesn’t mean we can take it easy though, because of the scale of change, we need to support small businesses and workers in the fossil fuel industry so that they are supported with training and opportunities as other parts of the economy become available. We have a lot of work to do. We can’t relax at the moment, in fact I think we need to sharpen our game," he said.
Mr Blakester said the Murray Darling Basin was evidence of a government in crisis. "We have a situation where not only members of federal parliament, but every tier of political governance and most of our public organisations have individuals that are not competent and are misleading us," he said.
"The collapse of the Murray Darling is one of numerous examples that is the price we are now paying for having taken our eye off the ball."
He is keen to hear from as many people as possible in the lead up to the election, and says the issues that have both community backing and a strong evidence base will be his policy platform.
"Health services, education services, infrastructure and connectivity - roads, bridges, mobile networks, NBN networks; these are priorities that are coming through as essential needs in our electorate," he said.