Emotions ran high as more than 150 people packed into the Williamtown Union Hall on Monday evening for a federal election candidates forum on the PFAS contamination issue, hosted by the Fullerton Cove Residents' Action Group.
Community representative Rhianna Gorfine said it was great to see the community support and the opportunity afforded to residents to hear first-hand what action, in any, our future political parties were prepared to commit.
Four of the six Paterson candidates attended, with the Liberal Party's Sachin Joshi a notable no-show, citing pre-election campaign commitments.
"Having listened to the politicians and attended hearings and meetings there is only one thing stopping our governments from giving the people what they deserve - money. They are putting money before the health and well-being of the residents," Mrs Gorfine said.
"It was disappointing that some of the candidates in answering questions tried to make the issue political."
Watch the full public forum at Williamtown Union Hall
Medowie father-of-three Des Maslen, who lives on the fringe of the 'red zone', said predictably emotions bubbled over as residents told of the heartache and frustration with both Defence and the government since they were first informed of the toxic contamination seeping from the RAAF Base and onto their properties.
"Many of these residents have been through hell. There was a real sense of hopelessness and emotions boiled over as impacted residents one by one relayed their stories and searched for answers," he said.
Mr Maslen said that the candidates' responses had been predictable.
"The minor parties promised everything including buy-backs and compensation knowing that they won't have to deliver because they won't be in government," he said.
"It was, however, surprising to hear the Labor representatives Meryl Swanson and Joel Fitzgibbon (Hunter MP) were very honest with the people by saying that the party's package - expected to be announced on Thursday - was not what the residents want to hear."