By Andrew Falloon
Last year I was going through a pile of old documents and found my reports from primary school.
The comments are pretty consistent. “Andrew is a diligent and hard-working pupil but can be distracted by others.”
Being a local member of Parliament is quite different. There are no criteria, no requirements. There are no key performance indicators as you might see in business or community groups, no regular reporting.
Instead of a manager, my employers are the roughly 65,000 people I serve across Mid and South Canterbury who make up the Rangitata electorate.
When I was first elected in 2017 I set myself a number of goals. Not long ago we passed the midway point in the 2017-2020 term of parliament, and today I report to you on my progress.
1. Do the best I can for everyone.
There’s sometimes a bit of confusion about the core role of a local MP. Although in parliament you might have MPs screaming and shouting at one another (yes, unfortunately that happens), the work I do locally is not political at all.
Every week my Timaru and Ashburton offices field more than 100 inquiries from constituents, ranging from people needing urgent access to housing, assistance with an immigration visa, or help with a myriad of Government agencies like Oranga Tamariki, ACC, or the DHB.
Every Monday and Friday I’m in my office locally, and I always make the same promise – I can’t guarantee the outcome you want, but I’ll always do my very best to achieve it. It’s not the sort of stuff you’ll ever see reported in the newspaper, but I’m proud I’ve been able to help hundreds of people in our community.
2. Always be accessible.
Our region is diverse. Every town and community has its own unique challenges and opportunities. Although I have offices in both Timaru and Ashburton, to better represent everyone it’s important I get right across the district.
Over the past 18 months I’ve held 35 constituency clinics in places like Temuka, Pleasant Point, Winchester, Orari, Seadown, the Rangitata Huts, and Rangitata Island. They’ve given people in those communities the opportunity to meet with me rather than having to come in to town.
I’ll be holding more soon, so keep an eye out if you have anything you’d like to talk about.
3. Be a vocal advocate for our community.
South Canterbury is a wonderful place to live, but I want to make it even better.
I worry sometimes about the outsized influence Auckland has on our national conversations. With around 50 of our 120 MPs coming from there, along with much of our media, it’s no surprise that problems for Auckland are often conflated as problems for New Zealand.
My goal has been to ensure South Canterbury doesn’t get left behind in that conversation. When we’re talking about transport and infrastructure spending, about immigration, even things as basic as proper representation on the regional council, I’ve worked to ensure our voice is heard.
It’s a privilege to be your servant in New Zealand’s parliament. Please get in touch if you require assistance on any matter.
Andrew Falloon is the MP for Rangitata