MPs take the gloves off in cross border political spat
By PETER CATON
FEDERAL MP for McPherson, Margaret May, has sparked a spat with her Labor counterpart in the adjoining seat of Richmond, Justine Elliott, after accusing her of shirking her job.
Ms May took off the gloves for a swipe at Ms Elliott's alleged treatment of her own constituents, saying the newly elected MP was fobbing off their requests for help by sending them across the border to her McPherson office.
"My office is taking phone calls from Tweed residents, saying that Ms Elliott's office has referred them to me as the Labor Party is not in government and she's therefore not in a position to help them on a number of federal government related matters," Ms May said.
The damning allegation was immediately denied by Ms Elliott, who accused Ms May of lying.
"My door is always open to any local who has a concern or issue they need to be addressed," she said.
"I am disappointed that the Member for McPherson has resorted to telling lies in a vain attempt to score political points.
"Margaret May's allegations are untrue, it's as simple as that."
Ms Elliott said she held regular street meetings around her electorate to make sure she was available to local people who may not be able to get to her office.
Ms May said said she was loathe to make the accusations, and did so only because she believed the people of Richmond deserved better treatment.
''Ms Elliott needs to understand that her constituents elected her to represent them in Federal Parliament. They did not elect her to have me represent them.
''She has a responsibility to lobby the government, meet with Ministers and make representations.
''If her constituents want a petition presented, it is her responsibility to table it, not send her constituents across the border and ask me to table it.''
Ms Elliott said she had been very vocal in Parliament about constituents' concerns, including the federal government's lack of funding for public dental care, the lack of aged care beds, problems in child care and the unfair changes to industrial laws.
TWEED'S biggest manufacturing industry boat building has appealed for council and government help to make business more buoyant.
Their hope is to create more jobs in local marine factories currently estimated to employ more than 100 local people and tipped to produce more than $75 million in major boat sales annually by the end of this year.
They have called for a $50,000 pontoon to be built in the Tweed River at Condong to help with the launching of large new boats now almost a monthly event.
On Wednesday Tweed Shire Council administrators backed their call when they took the first steps towards applying for a grant through the NSW Maritime Authority for half the cost.
The pontoon would complement an existing concrete boat launch pad built on the Condong stretch of the river in 2003 for the growing boat building industry.
It would also be used by the growing number of recreational boat owners.
Yesterday chief executive officer of the council funded Tweed Economic Development Corporation Tom Senti said it was vital the council encourage job creating industry such as boat building.
He said the latest estimates from 2003 predicted the Tweed boat building industry would have export sales in excess of $50 million and domestic sales in the vicinity of $25 million by the end of this year.
The most recent actual figures from 2001 showed the Tweed then had $12.15 million in overseas boat sales and $7 million in domestic boat sales and employed 76 people.
Since then the industry has ridden a wave of demand swollen by aging baby boomers with the money to spend.
"It's one of the fastest growing industries in Australia, part of the phenomenon following the baby boomer generation. It's one of the things they spoil themselves on," said Mr Senti.
"In Tweed Shire it's certainly one of the emerging industries and one we believe has the opportunity to grow.