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Voters take principle over pork every time.

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Peter Andren MP - Independent Member for Calare

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25 September 2007

Voters take principle over pork every time

Calare voters will take an honest, principled MP over empty election funding promises and pork barrelling every time and they have proved that at every election since 1996, according to federal Independent Member for Calare Peter Andren.

“Voters want representation of their interests in the parliament and this is why the voters of Calare have consistently elected me as their independent MP four times running despite the promise of funding favours by Coalition and Labor candidates,” Mr Andren said.

“They didn’t buy it when the Nationals promised to fund the Mount Panorama upgrade only if their candidate was elected in 2001 and they didn’t buy it when the Regional Partnerships fund was used by the Nationals as a private party pork barrel at the last election.

“In 2004, applications were being rushed through to suit the election campaign timetable, and in examples elsewhere in the country, even lodged after the money had been promised.

“Voters see right through this electioneering and ask themselves how can we trust a government to ‘govern for all Australians’ as John Howard says he does, if taxpayers’ money is being doled out for the sole purpose of getting votes.

“They also see through candidates claiming credit for supporting funding applications for successful projects when the deadlines for those projects closed well before the electoral redistribution and before they became interested in our region.

“Party candidates don’t understand - it is the hard work of the people, through non-partisan, non-political lobbying by activists and community groups, that attracts government funding not candidates promising money and begging ministers to help pork barrel their campaigns.

“The CSU dental school would not have happened without the hard work of Marj Bollinger and the Rural Dental Action group over the past three years. Orange’s radiotherapy funding would not have happened without the Cancer Care West Alliance, and the meetings I brokered with Health Minister Tony Abbott.

“Taxpayers’ money is supposed to be spent accountably and according to need. If money is being spent in huge amounts in one part of the country then it’s not being spent where there’s an objectively measured need. There is no bottomless pit of money for individual candidates to throw around for local votes.

“Voters also know promising millions of dollars to do scoping studies for major infrastructure, such as the Bells Line Expressway, when many studies have already been done and only if the State government matches the money, is an empty ploy for votes without actually spending a cent.

“Since 1996, Calare has received its fair share of funding with an independent MP in the seat, and in some cases more then its fair share. To date the pre-redistribution Calare electorate has received almost $105M in federal funding in addition to the regular Federal Assistance Grants to councils.

“These are the facts when it comes to government funding in Calare. Any party candidate who says government funding will only result from having them as the member in their party’s government is forgetting the fact they may well end up in opposition - far from access to ministers and the treasury.

“There is only one representative who can work for their constituents whoever is in government - and that is an independent,” Mr Andren said.

For further information: 02 6332 6229 or 0427 480 825.