Time as an MP drawing to a close
My time as Rangitata MP is drawing to a close, so this column will reflect on that. Hundreds of people have contacted me over the years, for a variety of reasons.
It has been the contact with constituents that I have valued the most. I have sat across the table from people, desperate to find a way through an issue and not knowing where to turn, or wanting the government to understand that the rules or laws hadn’t worked for them.
As the years went by I realised how effective an MP can be when they put in hard yards getting to know ‘who’s who’ , ‘what’s where’ and who gets things done in the electorate.
So when someone asks you ‘‘what should I do about…?’’ or ‘‘where can I get help from?’’ the MP knows where to turn.
Sometimes that includes writing to a Minister to ask for their assistance, often it means using your role as MP and your Electorate Agents (Tracey Miron and Robyn Hewson) to work constructively with government departments and NGOs to get answers. On rare occasions it means a personal call to a Ministerial colleague to say ‘‘help, this is looking dire!’’
Working out what works best in each case takes experience, and sometimes more patience than I think should be necessary. I recall tears flowing when my persistent nagging finally hurried up a decision that had taken years, I remember joy and disappointment at various immigration decisions, I remember elation when funding applications I supported elicited results, I recall times when firm prodding finally got answers for schools or parents on issues that had stalled.
I thought I would finish with some special moments over the last 9 years. Too many to mention, so just a sample: Successfully accessing Ministry of Education money for schools after the 2006 snow to cover damage and cleanup of school grounds, attending Suffrage Day celebrations and ANZAC Day, Naval and Airforce commemorations each year, support of Opihi Services Academy and the Cadet Forces each year, being part of birthday celebrations for 21 people 100 years or older, hundreds of wedding anniversary cards, hosting senior meetings, answering the questions of all ages of school children, landing a solution for fuel storage at the Port, hosting Ministers and the Prime Minister to either ‘show off’ special initiatives and organisations or, on many occasions open facilities, protestors and picketers outside my office, Alzheimer’s Memory walks, working in volunteer organisations to promote volunteering and honouring those who serve your district by attending their awards ceremonies (St John and Fire Service).
I thank you all for your support. Authorised by Jo Goodhew MP, 139 Stafford St, Timaru
Jo Goodhew gives her valedictory speech in Parliament.