MPs slam 'distorted' survey

By ANDY PARKS andy.parks@northernstar.com.au TAMWORTH MP Peter Draper has compiled a document which shows the contributions members of the NSW Lower House made to parliament last year, and the results have put some of our North Coast MPs in the spotlight.

The independent MP told The Northern Star he compiled the list to get an idea how he was performing in relation to other parliamentarians.

The document shows how many questions without notice each member asked, how many private member's statements they made and the number of times they spoke on other 'business of the house'. It then gives a total number of 'contributions', or the total number of times they 'got up on their hind legs and spoke', Mr Draper said

Mr Draper made 40 contributions to parliament in 2007 including four questions without notice, while the Member for Lismore, Thomas George made 27 contributions, Member for Ballina Don Page 19, and the Member for Clarence, Steve Cansdell 11. But none of the local National MPs asked any questions without notice.

"That's the only chance to hold a minister to account and to raise issues of concern for the local community in a public forum. If I wasn't asking questions in parliament, I'd feel like I was letting my community down," Mr Draper said.

But local MPs criticised Mr Draper's criteria.

"The whole thing is a complete distortion of what it means to be a good local member," Mr Page said.

"The Opposition gets a maximum of five questions a day, which are asked by party leaders and (Barry) O'Farrell and (Andrew) Stoner are asking questions every day."

"We work damn hard in the community and the proof is in the pudding. The North Coast Nationals all had swings to us at the last election. Draper had a swing away and only holds his seat by a handful of votes. You can draw your own conclusions."

Thomas George was similarly dismissive of the results. "Some days I interview up to 40 people in my office and they've all got problems," he said. "What am I to do? Sit on the problem waiting to be able to ask a question in parliament? No, I take immediate action."



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