LETTER TO THE EDITOR
Sir – Katherine MLA Sandra Nelson (pictured) was missing in action from a well attended forum that was convened in Katherine for seniors on Monday August 28. Many Katherine residents were disappointed when Sandra failed to attend.
The forum was hosted by the Department of Territory Families. As it was heavily advertised by the Member for Katherine, there was a natural expectation that Sandra would be present, or at the very least would put in an apology if unable to attend. There was however no apology.
There were no Parliamentary sittings that would require the Member for Katherine to be in Darwin. If there had been Parliamentary sittings, with Sandra having no ministerial portfolios and there being 18 Labor seats in a 25 member Legislative Assembly, it would not have been essential for Sandra to be there.
Failing to attend functions in Katherine seems to be becoming a habit for Labor parliamentarians. Chief Minister Gunner surprised Katherine residents when he failed to attend his own Christmas function in Katherine last year. Mr. Gunner went to a concert in Darwin instead.
Following the CM’s Christmas function in Katherine I visited the Katherine Electorate Office and raised the matter of Katherine residents being treated with disdain. I was curtly informed that as I received free drinks and a meal at the function, biccies and cheese, I should not be complaining.
When Bob Hawke took the leadership of the Labor Party from Bill Hayden, after having aspired to be the Australian Prime Minister, a clearly distraught Hayden remarked that a drover’s dog could win the next election.
If the CLP preselects a drover’s dog to contest the next election against the incumbent Member, unless Sandra can lift her game and heed the concerns of her constituents, Katherine may find itself with a four legged MLA that barks.
Ms Nelson replies:
Thanks for the link, and opportunity to respond to Mr Francais.
It seems to me he doesn’t have a high regard of me.
The reality is that there are some in my electorate that will be discontent with any government or elected member, irrespective of who they are, and nothing I say or do will satisfy them.
But I will offer this: If anyone is concerned about my schedule and whereabouts, they only have to look at my diary that is publicly available on my website or they can ask my Electorate Office to provide them with a copy of my diary.
I organised the SECOND information forum for seniors. I also organised and paid for the lunch that followed the forum. I was not in attendance, but my Electorate Officer was there on my behalf.
On Monday August 28 I was in Darwin for briefings on PFAS and the recently released national EPA report. On that day I also attended scheduled meetings with members of the Treasurer’s office to discuss infrastructure commitments for Katherine, and be briefed on the Indigenous Employment Program.
While I am not a Minister, I am a member of two committees, and Assistant Minister for two portfolios – all of these roles bring with them responsibilities and commitments that at times take me out of my Electorate.
While I work very hard to attend as many events as possible within my Electorate, unfortunately this means that for me to be at one particular event often means that I cannot be at another.
I have made every effort to be transparent and open. So much so that my diary is publicly available on my website, as is the financials for my Electorate office allowance. My office is open, accessible and engaging – which is a true reflection of how I conduct myself.
People can also receive my quarterly newsletter by email if they wish. I have a very active social media presence via my Facebook page, Instagram, and YouTube.
I regularly conduct “Coffee With the Member” sessions at various cafes in town in an effort for constituents to meet with me outside of working hours.
I attend school assemblies, sporting events, I often attend “story time” event at the public library and read to kids.
I have meetings with constituents at their request on a daily basis in my office to address diverse issues or concerns which range from public housing matters, requests for grants and funding information, gun licenses, road access, etc.
I also make the time to meet with constituents at their home when their circumstances don’t permit them to come to my office.
In addition to meetings with constituents, I also meet regularly with Katherine police, Katherine town council members, art sector stakeholders, local businesses, Katherine schools representatives, community sporting clubs and organisations, NGOs, tourism industry stakeholders and Aboriginal health stakeholders.
I also sponsor local sporting clubs, community events, festivals, competitions, awards and presentations.
There is much more that I could list that I do and provide for my Electorate, but in short, I believe that I am doing what a local Member is expected and obligated to do and as such I’m at a loss as to why Mr Francais would feel that I am not present in my own Electorate.
As always, I am open to insight and input from others that will guide me to do a better job in representing my Electorate.
Member For Katherine
LETTER TO THE EDITOR