Tony Windsor
Tony Windsor Chris Ison

Windsor gets gold for replies

INDEPENDENT federal MPs are the best at replying to queries from voters outside their own electorates, a study has found.

Conducted in the 19 months since the federal election in August 2010, the study was undertaken by Fairgo, an Australian-based organisation which was formed to assist and advise individuals, small businesses and community groups wanting to influence governments more effectively.

Fairgo uses Votergrams, a form of message on a non-party-political basis taking any voter's message simultaneously to virtually all members of any parliament in Australia.

The study found 70% of MPs in the House of Representatives, representing 106 electorates, did not respond to most Votergram messages on a wide range of issues.

Of the 30% who did respond, the study revealed 9% used automated computer responses when replying to voters, without any personal follow-up or involvement.

Fairgo awarded points on a 3-2-1 basis depending on the quality of the responses to Votergrams.

This data, which Fairgo said would remain confidential to protect privacy, was then converted into the following ratings: gold medal MP - top respondent; silver medal MP - runner-up top respondent; bronze medal MP - third-placed respondent; three-star MPs - next 25% of responding MPs; two-star MPs - next 60% of responding MPs, and; one-star MPs - next 15% of responding MPs.

The independent Member for New England Tony Windsor was awarded the gold medal.

Page MP Janelle Saffin received the silver medal and Health Minister Tanya Plibersek bronze.

Independents Rob Oakeshott and Andrew Wilkie each received three stars.

Opposition Leader Tony Abbott received a three-star rating, while Prime Minister Julia Gillard was not included in the results because her office does not receive emails.

Fairgo said a common excuse given by politicians for not responding to voters outside their own electorates was they gave priority to their own constituents.

"This is a very narrow interpretation of an MP's work," the Fairgo website reads.

The results of the survey can be found at fairgo.org/honour.htm.



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