Published: 03 April 2023

WHAT is the role of a member of parliament as opposed to a politician?

For some, parliamentarians are mere delegates, proxies who carry out the wishes of those in the electorate with the loudest voices, or in some case, the most money.

For me a representative's role couldn't be better described than by unashamedly plagiarising the words Edmund Burke delivered almost 250 years ago after being elected to the House of Commons.

Our parliament is not a congress of members from different and hostile interests; which interests each must maintain, as an agent and advocate, against other agents and advocates; but Parliament is a deliberative assembly of one state, with one interest, that of the whole; where, not local purposes, not local prejudices ought to guide, but the general good, resulting from the general reason of the whole.

The role of a parliamentarian, focused on the general good, will listen to, and engage with, their community, making decisions promoting the general good, in an important role of law-making.

People are weary of the prevailing adversarial system where differences are maintained and often exaggerated by participants as a means to jockey for positions of power.

We need a system that enables a contest of ideas, furthers public policy development through respectful debate and promotes the general good.

Parliamentarians are not there to cater to local prejudices and place local purpose ahead of the good of the state.

I will always take a strong stand on local issues, including the Cam River Bridge, crucial investment in our schools - Montello Primary School, Hellyer College, Wynyard High and many others, as I have done on occasions too numerous to mention here.

I will always advocate for those who educate our children, provide our healthcare, maintain our public and personal safety, etc.

The work our healthcare and other frontline workers do is extraordinary, particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We must respect the reality that we are first and foremost members of parliament with many aspects to the role with the general good forefront. I know this, from 18 years of service, having travelled around and engaged with people in my vast electorate, not just once in a while, but regularly.

The opportunity to be a parliamentarian is a true honour and privilege.

The Advocate, Monday 3 April 2023


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