Last year’s Weekly mayoral debate proved to be a major success, so it is returning to help Nelson voters elect their MP. Photo: Jonty Dine.

Great Weekly Debate returns

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The Great Nelson Weekly MP Debate will return just in time for voters to make their decision about who they want representing the electorate in Parliament.

Last year, the Nelson Weekly ran a livestreamed debate with local mayoral candidates in a pub and resulted in a packedout venue and thousands of views online.

So, this year, by popular demand it will return and pit the four local candidates, whose political parties are in Parliament, against each other.

Weekly editor Charles Anderson says the idea of the debate is to take some of the perceived stuffiness out of politics.

“A lot can happen in three years and a lot has happened but often it’s hard to make sense of all of it. We hope having a debate in this format, in a pub, where candidates can be challenged will help bridge that gap.”

The debate will be held at The Workshop Bar and Brewery on New St on August 30 – the weekend before early voting starts on September 5.

The general election is on September 19.

Charles says by hosting the debate in a pub, people who might not ordinarily be interested in such an event might feel more comfortable in learning more about those who are looking to represent Nelson in Parliament.

At the last election, National’s Nick Smith, who has been Nelson’s MP since 1996 received 16,735 votes, or 40.7 per cent of the vote, while Labour’s Rachel Boyack received 12,452 votes, or 30.3 per cent of the vote.

They will be joined by the Greens’ candidate Aaron Stallard and ACT’s candidate Chris Bailie.

Charles says he appreciates there are other minor parties who have local candidates but time, space and keeping the event somewhat orderly all mean that it has to be kept manageable.

“While Nelson had 82.75 per cent turn out in the 2017 election, that number gets smaller as the age bracket gets younger. Part of this has to do with people not being engaged with the process.”

He says it is also a way to show that the Weekly and its sister publication, The Nelson App, is serious about covering the region.

“We believe this to be the first time there has been a debate quite like this, and definitely the first time it has been livestreamed.”

The debate will be streamed to the Nelson Weekly Facebook page, which have more than 17,000 followers.

“It’s a really great addition to the election coverage our publications are providing and gives people an option to watch the event from the comfort of their own homes.”

Charles says some questions for the debate will be made up from those submitted by Weekly readers.

“We want you to email us with questions you’d like us to ask the candidates. We have the opportunity to put questions to them on your behalf.”

Email your questions to [email protected]

The Nelson Weekly MP Debate will be held at The Workshop on August 30 at 7.30pm. Entry is first come first served.