|A billboard of Steve Georganas on Henley Beach Rd. Source: Greg Barila|
I WAS mowing the lawn when a cheery bloke in a crisp white shirt and tie peered over the picket fence.
"We've got a pantry full of religion, thanks, we're good for now", I thought as I killed the mower and popped my protective goggles on top of my head.
But it wasn't like that.
The friendly interrupter, as it happened, was Matt Williams, the Liberal Party's man in Hindmarsh, the Federal western suburbs seat held by Labor's Steve Georganas.
Williams was out doing what political hopefuls do - wearing out a bit of shoe leather going door-to-door and trying to get a handle on "the issues".
I must admit he caught me on the hop when he put the question and I fumbled some kind of answer about climate change, the cost of living and local crime.
It was a perfectly civil chat, we had.
But why I was ill-equipped to talk eloquently about the issues of most concern to me was partly a function of my age and life stage - I have no kids, don't run a business, and thankfully don't struggle to pay the bills.
But also partly because as an ordinary citizen, I'm rarely ever asked what it is I think, or how I think things could change or be made better.
By all accounts, Mr Georganas is an affable bloke, a good family man and a hard-working local member.
But if he's been door-knocking down my street, held a community gathering in a local park or simply chatted to constituents down at the local shops, I must have missed the memo.
I've never spied the bloke. I know his office is in Glenelg East, but only because I googled it.
Steve's currently looking down on Henley Beach Rd from a massive billboard near the local Centrelink above the words "Steve Georganas dealing with what's important" and a checklist of achievements.
The list underscores a certain dilemma in politics.
Steve may be right in pointing out his efforts in "Fixing South Road" and securing an "Airport Curfew". But can I really thank my local member for "Low Interest Rates" "Better Schools" and "Improved Superannuation"?
Last week, Labor's Nick Champion, whose Wakefield electorate includes the Holden factory, was forced to explain why, in a letter to constituents, he claimed he had "secured guaranteed support for GM Holden, Elizabeth, ensuring production until 2022". It was news to most.
Despite their efforts to woo electors, the fortunes of most local MPs, for better or worse, are tied to decisions made in Canberra and the popularity, or otherwise of their party leaders.
Good MPs will be looking for a new job on September 8, because voters favored Kevin Rudd's asylum seeker policy or hated Tony Abbott's company tax changes.
The good news is we all get a choice.
Mine is between a billboard on Henley Beach Rd and a friendly chat with a perfect stranger over the front fence.
Good luck making yours.
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