the man we voted in as our local member of parliament defected. He stood beside the Premier of the state and said that he was no longer a member of the party that had worked so hard to get him into parliament. He was taking up a Ministry in order to support a weak government which had, by sheer good luck, managed to get not the most votes but the most seats. In doing so he talked about what was "best" for the state and that it was a move for "stable" government.
I have spoken about that elsewhere in this blog but his defection has had a personal impact on me. I am sure I am not the only one but I am one of the people now doing the job our elected member is supposed to be doing.
"Cat, I'm wondering if...."
"Oh Cat, I'm so pleased to see you because..."
"You're Cat aren't you and X said...."
"You're the person who writes the letters..."
"I hope you don't mind but..."
And so it goes on. In the past twelve months I have been approached numerous times by people looking for the sort of help they might normally get from a local member of parliament.
I can't always give that help, nor should I have to. I have advised people of alternative sources of information and help and I have, on occasions, written letters for people to send themselves. Those letters will not have the same impact as a letter written by their local member of parliament.
The reason for all this has been two fold. One is that people no longer trust their local member of parliament. Even some of those who voted for another candidate and support the present government will not seek his help.
The second reason is this. He is simply not available. He is supposed to be in his electorate office one afternoon a week. Theoretically you can make an appointment to see him. Realistically that is not possible. He has been on fourteen overseas trips in the last twelve months. He is rarely there. His electorate secretary is new. How she is coping I don't know. I have met her once. When I need a JP - as I sometimes do - I look elsewhere now. I know what would happen if I went in. It would be, "Cat, can you tell me...." and "Cat, how do I..." or " Cat, who do I..."
I did it for the previous girl when she was working for the previous member because he knew I had extensive local knowledge. He would come back to the office each evening he was in the state too.
The new girl admitted on the day I met her, "I hardly know what he looks like."
It's not representing the electorate. I know I am not the only person helping out. Perhaps someone could enlighten me though. What are we paying him for?