The difference between an excellent MP and a mediocre one

Democracy gives us the chance, every three years, of voting into government the people we believe will best represent our interests.

List MPs ride into parliament on party coat-tails, and their opportunity to prove themselves to voters is by pushing through legislation that benefits the majority. I’d prefer for MPs to do both, but some MPs are not inclined to do either.

Just 59% of current ministers were voter appointed; the remaining 41% are list members accountable only to their party.

Of the 59%, or 71 MPs, how many of them know their constituencies well enough to represent their interests? I’d guess not too many, when you consider the politicians who got there on the strength of standing for the voter’s preferred party.

Ronald Reagan said, “Politics is supposed to be the second-oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.” That’s harsh, but certainly true of one-term wonders who are dumped by disillusioned voters next time round.

For five years I had the good fortune to be represented by National’s Simon O’Connor in Tamaki. Simon pops up at community functions, is readily available, and regularly emails a newsletter to keep constituents well abreast of what he’s up to.

This all changed when I moved into the Maungakiekie electorate of National’s first timer, Denise Lee. As I had done previously with Simon, I emailed Denise asking, in one instance, for National’s stance on the Global Compact. I emailed three times in nearly three years – so hardly an avalanche – but did not receive a single response. Not even a “thanks, I’ll get back to you”.

This week I did it again. I emailed Denise the link to Whaleoil’s “Gossip from the Conference.” It contained an unflattering reference to her behaviour at the Nats’ conference, and I reminded her that Whaleoil is widely read here and overseas by expat voters. This is my comment on the post. Quote.

Denise Lee is my MP and despite asking her stance on 2-3 occasions she DID NOT RESPOND. No acknowledgement at all. Not getting my vote next time round. To whatever personal characteristics anyone else has experienced, add useless!
Edit: Just emailed Denise Lee this Whaleoil link. Will she respond?” End of quote.

Whaleoil

To my surprise, and to her credit, Denise responded. Here is her reply. Quote.

Thank you for your email.

I apologize for my lack in response to your queries that were sent to my parliamentary email. 

Following your latest communication, I, along with my staff, went through all my records to check for replies, particularly the UN Migration Pact where every MP was the recipient of quite a large volume of correspondence. I always do my best to respond to constituent queries, and am unsure how yours were missed. Please feel free to resend and I’ll endeavour to respond on receipt. Alternatively I am available to meet you in person should you wish to discuss matters that way. 

In the case of the 2017 email, there was a period (before I became an MP) when my national party email address was not re-routing to the correct destination and I suspect that this was why I may not have seen that particular email. 

I accept your decision for next year’s election and wish you well when surveying other candidates. 

Regards,

Denise Lee
MP for Maungakiekie. End of quote.

Thanks Denise! Going forward, it is in everyone’s interests that you listen to your constituency to best represent our interests.

And now that I have your attention (thanks to Whaleoil), what are National going to do about affordable housing, Auckland transport, hospital waiting lists, mental health, dental care, teacher and junior doctor salaries and immigration, to name some issues this government has stalled on?

Your constituency will thank you for answers.

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