Smith eyes off Quirk debate

Tony Moore April 17, 2012

Labor mayoral candidate Ray Smith claims Brisbane's lord mayor Graham Quirk is trying to skate into the city's top job and wants a public debate so the public can scrutinise him.

Mr Smith called for a mayoral debate this morning, but brisbanetimes.com.au has confirmed at least two debates had already been organised.

This website understands Mr Smith only last night agreed to a second debate with Cr Quirk.

"Graham Quirk in his 27 years as a councillor has been gifted this job," Mr Smith said.

"He would not have put his hand up for it if he had not been gifted the job."

Mr Smith, who has been campaigning for 17 months for the ALP as its mayoral candidate, said Cr Quirk was trying to ride into the mayoralty on predecessor Campbell Newman's coat-tails.

A spokesman for Cr Quirk said the Lord Mayor had already agreed to two radio debates with Mr Smith.

One of those debates would last about 20 minutes on Fairfax Radio 4BC's drive program on Thursday after the 3.30pm news bulletin.

Cr Quirk's spokesman said Mr Smith's comments were "political games" to try to get attention to Labor's campaign.

This afternoon, a spokeswoman for Mr Smith said they did not classify the 4BC interview this Thursday – where both Mr Smith and Cr Quirk would be in the studio together answering questions– as a debate.

She said a another “debate” was tentatively set for April 26 on the ABC, but had not yet been confirmed.

Mr Smith this morning announced Brisbane City Council would provide three $10,000 grants to Generation Y innovators during Youth Week if he became Lord Mayor.

"As CEO of Cutting Edge, I was proud to give many young people their start in the television and film production industry," he said.

"If elected I'll give the same leg up to three young hard working exceptional Brisbane residents each year through my plan for Civic Youth Awards."

Rachel Gallagher, Labor's 21-year-old candidate for the Parkinson ward, appeared with Mr Smith at Southbank TAFE where he made the civic awards announcement.

*CORRECTION: A previous version of this story incorrectly named Labor's Parkinson candidate as Rachel Gardiner. Her name is Rachel Gallagher.