"Hello I have a question for the panel. Last year I was subject to a racist incident. It was on the corner of Bouverie and Grattan street. It was about 9.10am and..."

Out front of the Uni of Melbourne forum for the mayoral election, the nine candidates present shifted in their seats, their pose going from sympathy to uh-oh. This was the first question, from a mature-age international student. Was he about to regale them with a 45-minute description of the incident and end with a plea for less fluoridation?