BIG CHEQUE: Independent MP Troy Bell’s pre-poll pledge to see results for the Mount Gambier electorate have got off to a good start 12 months after the March 2018 election.
BEFORE the 2018 state election, Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell told attendees of a candidates forum the state’s major parties to “bring a bloody big chequebook” if he held the balance of power.
Almost one year later, the advocacy of the independent MP has seen $10m flow to the region despite the State Liberals winning government in its own right.
And he does not intend on stopping.
“Over the next 12 months, I’ll be focusing on funding for lymphoedema compression support garments and epilepsy,” he said.
“I will also have a real focus on tourism and activating the Crater Lakes precinct and the first step in that is seeking funding for a masterplan and then a feasibility study.”
Sunday marks 12 months since Mr Bell was elected for a second term as an independent after stepping down from the Liberal Party just months before the March election.
The incumbent convincingly retained the seat with the highest primary vote by an independent candidate since ex-member Rory McEwen’s surge in 2002.
Since then, Mr Bell has seen a number of his initiatives supported in State Parliament, including investigating the viability of an “opt out” system of organ donation and securing “major event” status for the Generations in Jazz festival.
Mr Bell said a funding commitment for the proposed $40m Sport and Recreation Centre and the statewide roll out of free meningococcal B strain vaccinations were among his greatest achievements over the past 12 months.
He attributed the gains to being able to work in collaboration with the government of the day.
“I have always put my community first and I think people and the government respect that,” he said.
“I do not play political games, I just advocate on the behalf of my community.
“Being able to work with the political system to benefit the community is something that does take time, but is very rewarding.”
Mr Bell’s continued pressure on the State Government was instrumental in securing a legislated 10-year ban on fracking in the South East, despite Mining Minister Dan van Holst Pellekaan’s assurances the cabinet-imposed moratorium was strong enough.
A three-part motion spearheaded by the independent MP calling on the introduction of a subsidy scheme for a lymphoedema compression garment subsidy was supported with the government moving to develop a business case as a result.
Just one day after Mr Bell raised concerns about funding for Mount Gambier Fringe Festival in Parliament, Premier Steven Marshall announced a $10,000 recurrent three year funding commitment towards the event.
“Everything we have put up has been good for our region, our state and our kids,” Mr Bell said.
“Forestry is the next big item I will be fighting for, specifically the amount of wood that leaves our region through exports.
“It is so important we have those jobs here so our region, our state and our kids can benefit.”