Diana Lyons writes:
I have the misfortune to have Mark Vaile as my MP. Up here in Lyne we never see the bloke. We never know where he is. If he went on extended leave for a six-month trek through the Amazon jungles – never mind a measly week or so in Dubai — we’d be the last to know.
The good citizens of Dubai will have seen more of him in a week than most of his constituents have in years. He shows up once or twice a year for photo-ops when the government hands over healthy amounts of funding to local private schools, and that’s about it. During the last election he barely bothered to campaign.
Local rumour has it that his wife Wendy runs his Taree office and the electorate while Mark swans about doing little more than demonstrating his skateboarding skills and having photos taken of him on a horse to prove he really is a farmer.
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Anyone unlucky enough to live in a safe National seat will tell you that nothing ever happens. The Liberals can’t be bothered with us when they are in office because we are safe and don’t need bribing, Labor don’t care about us because we are safe Nats and not worth their attention.
Maybe that will change soon. Luke Hartsuyker, National member for Cowper, the next Nats seat up the coast, for a moment or two looked like losing his once safe seat to Labor at the last election and Vaile suffered a drop in his vote too, although sadly, nowhere near big enough to dislodge the bludger.
Vaile declared last week in a statement to his local newspaper the Manning River Times that he was not considering leaving parliament and it was his “clear intention” to stay on for hs full term – health permitting, naturally. Typical, always make sure you have a loophole to exploit if it all goes pear-shaped.
Brendan Nelson is right: the constituency MP’s first duty is to his constituency. In ten years in the electorate I have found Vaile to be the worst constituency MP I have ever experienced. I wrote to him on three issues over the years: one was the poor service by Telstra — I could not even get call waiting on my phone because of the local exchange much less broadband internet; another was the condition of local roads and the last was on David Hicks — some twelve months before he was finally released from Guantanamo Bay.
On each and every occasion be responded with an extract from the National’s policy document.
He is a disgrace as an MP. He has been a disgrace as a minister. His time in Agriculture saw him decimate the dairy industry in NSW Queensland and WA simply to support overproduction in Victoria. Yes, something had to be done but I would like to know of the number of dairy farmer suicides brought about by the unthinking and unheeding manner of his “solution”.
At Trade he was responsible for the US Australia Trade agreement and for a totally one way benefit trail in favour of the US.
Funnily enough Philip Ruddock provided my best experience of a constituency MP both in opposition and government. On issues raised he was considerate and personal and on one occasion in the early days of his long stint in Immigration offered a personal meeting to discuss policy issues. Locally Andrew Stoner and Rob Oakshott are excellent.
Mark Vaile spends public money sending us all fridge magnets with his colours plastered all over them and calendars similarly adorned. He does bugger all for his constituency and should certainly go from the parliament.
Cart from the Grub Street Journal blog writes:
My local federal member, Mark Vaile, sought re-election and won his seat, but he lost his coveted position of Deputy Prime Minister. I predicted at the time that he would jump ship sooner rather than later, but like his colleagues he is reluctant to give up the perks while he pursues new opportunities.
While the majority of MPs are committed to the job they were elected to do, Vaile is off in the Middle East doing some sort of corporate consultancy. He is still supposedly my local member and has recently been quoted in the local paper screaming about the loss of democracy with the sacking of our local council.
I’m not sure what kind of consultancy would want the man his former ministerial colleagues thought of as a lame brained half-wit. I’m not sure what influence he has when his own parliamentary leader now publicly rebukes his behaviour. As a potential lobbyist he really doesn’t have a lobby to work.
Locals haven’t really missed Vaile, here is rarely seen at the best of times. Some of us conducted a running commentary during the last election campaign, tracking his movements around the country – anywhere but the electorate. But his days are numbered.
I was among those who predicted that he would be gone within six months of losing his exalted government position. I’m thinking we might not be too far off that target. At last we might have the opportunity to elect a member who gives a damn about their constituents and country.