MP Janelle Saffin Votergram queen

PAGE MP Janelle Saffin may be the Votergram queen, but her Richmond neighbor, Justine Elliot, says her office is too busy to answer them.

Votergrams are questions or messages sent to all MPs, usually via email, from democracy advocacy group FairGo.

The organization has released a list of top responders to questions, which range anywhere from Sydney planning issues to the Federal Government's carbon tax, and awarded Ms Saffin a silver medal as the second-best responder to Votergrams in the country.

New England MP Tony Windsor took the gold medal and Health Minister Tanya Plibersek was awarded the bronze.

Beyond the three medals, the organization listed a star ranking on other MPs, ranging from three stars for good responders to no stars for MPs who failed to respond at all.

That's where Ms Elliot came in - sharing the wooden spoon with about 70% of Federal MPs for failing to respond to Votergrams at all.

"My electorate office receives large volumes of emails, phone calls and letters each day. Priority is given to the residents of Richmond whom I have been elected to represent," Ms Elliot said in a statement.

Ms Saffin accepted many other MPs would struggle to find the time to respond to the Votergrams. Ms Saffin's staff didn't deal with Votergrams either - it was her deep attachment to her Blackberry phone, which she took with her everywhere, that meant she could generally personally respond to messages as they came through.

A technology addiction perhaps?

"Those are your words," she fired back.

Prime Minister Julia Gillard "who does not accept emails" wasn't included among the rankings , but Federal Opposition Leader Tony Abbott was among the 17 three star ((exceptionally good or helpful response) MPs, along with former Greens leader Bob Brown, Lyne independent Rob Oakeshott, Tasmanian independent Andrew Wilkie, and Treasurer Wayne Swan.

Former Prime Minister Kevin Rudd rated two stars (response written by MP or staff and specifically related to the issue raised by the voter), along with South Australian Independent Senator Nick Xenaphon, and veteran MP Philip Ruddock.

Far North Queensland Independent Bob Katter, rated only one star (standard response of a general nature written by MP or staff), along with Deputy Liberal leader Julie Bishop.

Topics covered by Votergram questions included:

  • poker machine losses,
  • residential planning for an increasing population,
  • truck safety, rail freight transport
  • sex slavery,
  •  Qantas worker and executive comparative pay rates,
  • an overseas student wrongly detained by immigration officials,
  • live cattle export cruelty,
  • carbon tax,
  • alcohol,
  • women's health,
  • mental health,
  • international price discrimination against Australia,
  • flying foxes and orchard netting,
  • family law property settlement provisions,
  • corporate compliance with corporate law,
  • same sex marriage,
  • farm financial issues,
  • military forces,
  • war in Afghanistan
  • questionable banking practices.


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