'Little things' are my bread and butter: Southern Downs MP
IT'S no small legacy James Lister was left when elected in November 2017 after the retirement of former LNP leader Lawrence Springborg.
His predecessor's career spanned 28 years, including 16 years as representative for Southern Downs and earlier terms as member for the former seats of Warwick and Carnarvon.
Mr Lister sidestepped questions about the legacy he wanted to leave and his specific goals for his first term, explaining he was busy "doing the little things that a member of parliament does”. Representing individuals frustrated with local and state government on a range of issues took up most of his time, he said.
"They come to me often after they've exhausted all other matters, seeking representation.”
For example he receives "a great number of complaints” about the Southern Downs Regional Council from Stanthorpe residents who feel the council is not maintaining facilities or providing services it's meant to, he said.
"What I can do is help Mr and Mrs Blogs who have been fighting Department X for 10 years, and help them get a review and get them the result that they want,” he said.
"That little stuff that never makes the headlines is the bread and butter of an MP and if I can play my small part...all over the electorate, I will be proud of myself.”
Electricity prices and water shortage in both urban areas are issues he has taken to state government departments in his first year.
He said residents in some parts of his electorate including Goondiwindi, Wallangarra and Texas were paying more than they should for electricity, because they don't have access to a range of competing energy retailers.
"They are plumbed into the New South Wales grid and the State Government is not doing what it could to make sure they are not paying more than other Queenslanders,” he said.
"The biggest issue is that whilst competition is a great thing, in theory, some people just don't have access to other options.”
Water shortages were holding back the horticulture industry, but Mr Lister said a solution would be found in the Emu Swamp Dam Project proposed by the SDRC and approved with conditions by the State Government.
"I'm a great overt supporter of the Emu Swamp Dam Irrigation System. I think it's no-brainer,” he said.
"It's a scheme which would offer 450 megalitres of guaranteed water to the Southern Downs Regional Council at no cost to them.
"It's a scheme which will enable the $300 million horticultural industry around the Granite Belt to have security of water supply so that they could commit to contracts and plant crops knowing that they'll be able to finish them off.”