Northern Rivers constituents: Where are our State MPs?
IT SEEMS the majority of Northern Rivers constituents are less than impressed with the performance of our State MPs, saying they are often extremely difficult to contact and nothing seems to come of it.
Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith has fared the worst in the Northern Star's online poll, with almost half of all voters, 47%, saying they have tried to speak to Ms Smith but couldn't get in touch with her or her staff.
Not one voter agreed Ms Smith was "always available and helpful" and close to a third, 31%, said Ms Smith or her staff talk to me but little or nothing seems to come of it.
Lismore Nationals MP Thomas George scored only slightly better, with 30% of voters saying they had tried to speak to Mr George by couldn't get in touch with him or his staff and 41% agreeing "Mr George or his staff talk to me but little or nothing seems to come of it."
Ahead of Ms Smith, 23% of voters agreed Mr George "is always available and helpful whenever I've needed him".
More than half of all voters, a whopping 54%, said they couldn't get in touch with Clarence MP Chris Gulaptis or his staff, however 24% of voters disagreed, saying he "is always available and helpful."
Federal Government representative Justine Elliot has received the most positive feedback, with 55% of voters agreeing she is always available and helpful.
A further 18% said the Richmond MP's office staff are friendly and helpful.
Page MP Kevin Hogan similar results, with 55% voting he is always available and helpful, however 26% disagreed and said they hadn't been able to contact him or his staff.
It should be noted the poll was not scientific. It does, however, represent the views of the 606 people who took part. There is also no way of ensuring only residents in local electorates voted.
What our politicians had to say:
Ballina Greens MP Tamara Smith: The results obtained by The Northern Star are surprising as we've obtained very different results through our own constituent satisfaction mechanisms. Following the opening of our office on May 5, 2015, we have responded to and acknowledged every constituent enquiry we have received. We have conducted our own electorate-wide survey, from which we've received positive responses in the thousands. We've helped many hundreds of constituents who have engaged with our office. There is a number of avenues constituents can engage with me which include but aren't limited to electorate office visits, phone calls, Parliamentary e-mail, on our website and meeting people out and about.
Lismore Nationals MP Thomas George: No comment received.
Clarence Nationals MP Chris Gulaptis: I, along with my staff, feel very honoured and privileged to be in a position to help and guide constituents with any concerns they might have. My door is always open and I conduct regular constituent interviews both in Grafton and Casino as well as attending meetings/events in other parts of my electorate. Communication with constituents is on a daily basis, whether I am in the electorate, in Parliament or at home. My office is manned Monday to Friday from 8.30am-5pm and my office contact details are readily available so I am a little puzzled that 54% of voters were unable to get in touch/speak to myself or my staff.
Page Nationals MP Kevin Hogan: In the last two years, my office has had contact with every member of the electorate on a number of occasions. This has always included a survey about what issues are important to them.
I have numerous points of contacts including phone, email, Facebook and website. I have instituted a series of "checks and balances" to ensure no person is overlooked. We have responded to close to 78,000 individual queries during the last two years. Being available to my constituents is the most important part of my job. I spend 100% of my work time in this role. My diary is made up of meetings, ringing people back, or at community events so that I am accessible. In Canberra, whilst not in the chamber, I have meetings with Ministers reflecting the will and wishes of the people I have spoken to at home.
Richmond Labor MP Justine Elliot: In my experience the most important role for an MP is to be available and listen firsthand to constituents. My door is always open. I'm interested in people and in their concerns and views across a range of issues. I engage with locals through a variety of ways; individual meetings, attending public functions, doorknocking, mobile offices, community rallies and sometimes just having a chat while I'm buying groceries at the local store. I constantly engage with locals on many social media forums including Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. I receive literally hundreds of queries through emails, phone, mail, and social media each day. Together with my team of staff, we are dedicated to serving the residents of the North Coast and will always strive to support and help everyone.