Showdown looms for top two contenders

LABOR MP David Bradbury said only his government had a plan for jobs growth after the mining boom finished.

"We need to keep a strong manufacturing sector," Mr Bradbury said. "But we can't compete with other countries on wages and conditions; nor should we.

"We have to be smarter, be innovative and come up with new products and services."

He said that was why the government was investing billions of dollars in education through the Gonski, or Better Schools, program.

"Investing in our schools gives kids the opportunities they need to be working in the jobs of the future," he said.

Mr Bradbury said people should not trust the Coalition's change of heart towards Gonski, announced last week.

"Tony Abbott has said he will only continue funding Better Schools for four years, but the biggest schools funding is earmarked for years 5 and 6," he said.

He said the Coalition was also planning billions of dollars in cuts.

However, Fairfax Media's Politifact cited government claims of a "$70 billion black hole" in Coalition costings as "false".

But Mr Bradbury defended the claim and said the Coalition still intended to cut billions in jobs and services.

He listed the growth of Nepean Hospital and the planned health-science jobs hub at UWS as some of his proudest achievements as local member.

"The $100 million redevelopment of Nepean Hospital and the Nepean Clinical School have dramatically transformed its medical facilities," Mr Bradbury said.

He said he wanted to defend his record in debates with his Liberal opponent for Lindsay, Fiona Scott, but she had refused.

"I've made more than 20 challenges to Fiona," he said. "I think it's arrogant to think you can be elected without fronting up and explaining what you would do."

Mr Bradbury also said that as a family man raising four children he understood the pressures of family life.

"That's why I'm proud to be part of a government that looks after families and why I'll be asking voters to give me another opportunity to keep delivering," he said.

Liberal candidate Fiona Scott said cost of living and a lack of local jobs were the main issues affecting voters.

"We've doorknocked more than 20,000 homes and the key thing they talk about is cost of living," Ms Scott said.

"The prices of electricity, groceries and petrol keep going up and up."

She said a Coalition government would relieve price pressures by abolishing the carbon tax, which would be its first order of business.

Ms Scott said the government's own figures forecast a carbon tax increase to $38 a tonne by 2019 and increasing to $350 a tonne over time.

"Only the Coalition will reduce your cost of living by abolishing the carbon tax," she said.

She also said governments must do more to bring jobs to the region.

"Sixty-five per cent of our working population has to commute every day; that puts a lot of pressure on families," Ms Scott said.

"That's why it's important to work with the state government, local councils and business groups on ways we attract business to Penrith; how we get the right investment through government grants."

She said she was ready to face her Labor opponent, Lindsay MP David Bradbury, and rejected his claim that she would not debate him.

"I have accepted and will have two debates with David Bradbury," Ms Scott said.

"I said earlier this year that once the election was called I would debate David."

She also defended her written statement to a forum last Thursday attacking the government's Gonski, or Better Schools, education funding.

Last Friday the Coalition announced a policy change, stating it would leave Gonski funding in place for four years.

"My written statement contained the party's policy at that point in time," Ms Scott said.

"[Coalition education spokesman] Christopher Pyne assesses this policy; that's his job.

"We'll have all our policies released in due course, well before polling day."

She reiterated that if she were elected, her first order of business would be dismantling the carbon tax.

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