Open letter to my local MP Murray Watt

Equipment and On Road Behaviour, Laws and Rules. Cycling Promotion and Advocacy

Re: Open letter to my local MP Murray Watt

Postby Bicyc-what? » Fri Oct 21, 2011 9:52 pm

Howdy guys,

I'm a brand new member and this thread prompted me join up and post (although I'm also just getting into cycling at the moment for the first time).

I thought I'd throw my 2 cents in with regards to lobbying your local MP to get something done. I work for an MP and deal with tons of queries like this every day.

1. Short and sweet. Most MPs are quite intelligent and can put 2 and 2 together. Hell, I've even seen some do multiplication tables. As such, you don't need to worry about spelling everything out for them. Make your two strongest points and use your strongest example. Also, there's nothing more annoying than receiving a relative thesis in an email when I need to be dealing with the phone calls, emails, media queries, policy work, office administration and all of the letter responses I need to write every day.

2. Don't be melodramatic or hysterical. Electorate officers deal with so many sad stories and near-hopeless situations that they become desensitized to it. If you are articulate and cogent, I am far more likely to put the letter I front of the member's eyes than if you tell me it's the end of the world. I'm also far more likely to take a proper interest in your situation and passionately work towards a solution.

3. Outline what you'd like as an outcome. Far too many people approach an electorate office, have their say on an issue and dont know what they want done about it, so outline some tangible outcomes and put them to the member. What do you want us to do for you? Is it within a Member of Parliament's powers? Often all we can do is make a representation to the appropriate minister and wait for an outcome. That representation, though, often holds more weight coming from an MP as it lets the minister know that the MP has personally taken an interest in the matter.

4. Don't go out of your way to criticize the MP's stance or perceived inaction on the issue and definitely do not be hostile. Also, be sagacious about your political leanings - MPs love to think they can win your vote by helping you out. By the same token, don't assume an MP is with you or against you. All MPs have their interests and none are entirely beholden to their party's policies - I've seen a few cases where MPs have actively campaigned against their own government's policy. And won.

5. Medium medium medium. Visit trumps letter trumps email trumps website/Facebook/twitter comment. Always address your communication directly to the minister/member/leader - CCs are often taken as being an FYI and are often ignored. Don't use silly fonts, pictures of colors either.

6. NEVER use chain or campaign emails that all have the same content. If I get an email that is exactly the same as 50 others in my inbox, I'll send 51 identical responses. Take the time to write to me, show me you're genuinely interested, and I'll take my time out for you.

7. Be patient. Government, like politics, is slow boring through hard boards. I got a letter today from a minister I made a rep to 5 months ago. Go figure.

At the risk of breaking rule number 1 I'll leave it there. So while you will (or should) always receive a response from your local member, doing the above will make your life and our lives far easier.

Cycling is an issue that, by my reckoning, needs government attention. Clearly there are issues at the moment concerning responsibility and accountability, as well as cyclists feeling like they're being ignored. So make your voice heard because that's te only way things will change.

Looking forward to posting a bit more kn here, so until then...
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by BNA » Wed Oct 26, 2011 11:05 am

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Re: Open letter to my local MP Murray Watt

Postby AndyTheMan » Wed Oct 26, 2011 11:05 am

I remember the goold old days when lobbying an MP went a lot like this:



Wat da we want ?? - better protection for cyclists

When do we want it ?? - [NOW!!]
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Re: Open letter to my local MP Murray Watt

Postby Oxford » Wed Oct 26, 2011 11:49 am

Bicyc-what, thanks for your reply, not sure why I didn't see it earlier, its not as though I have anything else urgent to do. I understand your situation, I have a close friend who also works for a minister doing the same and many other friends in various levels of government departments. I think you'll understand my frustration at asking for action at the beginning of the year and basically being ignored. I'm more pissed off now as it has been 7 weeks and the only acknowledgement I have received is from a person who is not even in office at the moment. Even worse I have received the new dribble from Murray Watt wanting to know how to improve another intersection (happens to be right outside his electoral office). Personally the only issue is too many single occupant morons in their vehicles. I say choke the intersection and make people consider alternative options like public transport. An example being we have a suitable bus service through our suburb. But too many people drive to a local railway station to catch a train, the bus service goes right past the same train station. So every time they improve the car park, more people stop catching the bus and drive to the station.Image
Life is not about waiting for the rain to pass.....it's about learning to dance (or ride) in the rain.
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Re: Open letter to my local MP Murray Watt

Postby g-boaf » Wed Oct 26, 2011 1:36 pm

Unfortunate thing is that you can only get action now through mass-protest. :( All too often your letter goes nowhere. Otherwise, visit in person and demand an audience, and be persistant

Where I live in Sydney, we have similar issues. Great bus services getting people to the station, but they are overcrowded and everyone still uses cars. :( It'd be nice for them to choke up some important roads with a cycling lane on each side.

That may make some difference.

Hope you mend soon. My back is busted up as well, though I didn't need surgery after my fall.
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Re: Open letter to my local MP Murray Watt

Postby Oxford » Wed Oct 26, 2011 1:53 pm

I have so far avoided back surgery. the recent surgery I had was elective for another issue and was depending on how you look at it fortunate as the surgery recovery forced me to be inactive allowing my back injury to recover.

think I'll be asking for an audience with Murray to see what he has to say. T2W has also indicated I can attend his meeting with the transport minister when I am allowed (medically that is), will be taking up that offer.
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Re: Open letter to my local MP Murray Watt

Postby sumgy » Sun Nov 13, 2011 12:46 pm

Oxford wrote:I have received the new dribble from Murray Watt wanting to know how to improve another intersection (happens to be right outside his electoral office). Personally the only issue is too many single occupant morons in their vehicles. I say choke the intersection and make people consider alternative options like public transport. An example being we have a suitable bus service through our suburb. But too many people drive to a local railway station to catch a train, the bus service goes right past the same train station. So every time they improve the car park, more people stop catching the bus and drive to the station.Image


Ox, you and I disagree on lots of stuff but this is one time I think I am almost on the same page as you.
I think the current amount of car related infrastructure work on the Northside is nothing short of criminal.
Here is my post from the QLD forum on BNA about this issue:

sumgy wrote:Northside people.
Good luck with us getting any bike infrastructure in a hurry given the current amounts of car related infrastructure currently underway.
Widening of the Wardell Street/Samford Road intersection.
Widening of Beckett Road which will ultimately mean an upgrade of the Rode Road roundabout due to the increased traffic flows from Beckett Road.
And now a push for a bypass through Flockton Street joining Old Northern Road and Stafford Road by Murray Watt (probably because he knows that the upgrade of Beckett Road is going to mean even greater pressure on the Old Northern Road/Stafford Road intersection).

http://murraywattmp.com/01_cms/details.asp?ID=68
http://murraywattmp.com/01_cms/details.asp?ID=65
[email protected]

[email protected]

If you are like me and think that this continued motor vehicle infrastructure is a poor solution to the traffic problem then I suggest that you write to both Murray Watt and Tim Mander to voice your displeasure.

I did this just this week:
Tim
I have just sent the below email to Murray Watt but felt that I should also send this same correspondence to your office for a response.
This “rant” has arisen from the article that I have read today in the Northern Times along with the articles on Murray’s website.
I want my 3 boys to be able to live in a city that they and their children can be proud to live in. Not some tunnelled, overpassed LA style mess.

I have copied my email to Murray word for word.

I am sorry Murray but the proposed bypass and all of the other traffic infrastructure “solves” nothing.
It is time to make a hard decision and actually do something that will be in the interests of our suburbs rather than take the easy route and continue to band aid the real problem which is that we have far too many people using our roads and far too few workable alternative options.
The tunnels and bypasses that we are seeing spring up all over Brisbane will give us a temporary fix but it has been proven in the past that these “fixes” ultimately end up just as crowded as the previous problem.
Yes it is the popular choice by your voters who refuse to entertain alternatives but I do not believe it should be your job to take the popular option (although I do recognise that if you don’t stay popular, you don’t stay).
When will it be time to say enough is enough with roads?
How many suburbs do we need to destroy?
Kedron is almost there, along with large sections along Lutwyche Road.
Wooloowin is suffering too.
Enoggera and now Everton Park?

Out further we have major widening of Becketts Road that ultimately will funnel into the Rode Roundabout.
I can see the next project being a rebuild of this roundabout as it will not cope with the extra traffic flows that will come.
Not so much your area but the upgrade of Gap Creek Road has led to substantial increases to traffic via that route and through The Gap.
Hamilton Road from Old Northern Road through to Chermside has seen likewise.
I cannot think of a single time when additional vehicle infrastructure has seen an ongoing improvement to traffic flow.

The problem is not roads.
It is traffic.
It is the people that use these roads.
And it is these people that need to be re-educated about their actions and “actively encouraged” to use the alternatives.
Providing free and improved access to the CBD does nothing to this end.

Not sure if you have ever seen this video and information, but perhaps it is time for our governments (local, State and Federal) to start thinking about this.

It worked in San Francisco, Portland Oregon and in Seoul Korea so there is absolutely no reason it cannot work here.
Jeffery Kenworthy, from our Curtin University and who was involved in the Korean Cheonggyecheon project effectively says in the attached video, that traffic behaves like a gas and will expand across all infrastructure until it is clogged regardless of how much infrastructure is provided. So ultimately you are trying to “solve” a puzzle that cannot be solved by adding more roadways.

http://daily.sightline.org/2011/04/01/g ... -in-seoul/

http://www.infrastructurist.com/2009/07 ... ve-a-city/

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KtV1M0Cv ... r_embedded

More public transport at the expense of car lanes is what is needed along with improved cycling infrastructure (up from basically none in our Northern suburbs despite the much talked about bikeway program).
I hope that you actually spend the time to read and watch the links provided and then spend some time thinking about what is being said and how similar our current situation is to these cases.
Then take the time to work out how you (and others in power) can actually FIX the problem rather than taking the popular option.
Don’t be one of our politicians who are remembered for creating more ugly LA style fly overs.

I look forward to your response
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Re: Open letter to my local MP Murray Watt

Postby trailgumby » Sun Nov 13, 2011 1:01 pm

Nice work sumgy.

Saw that bit on Cheongyyecheong (sp?) awhile back thanks to a link posted here... pretty awesome stuff.

I've just spent much of the week down in Melbourne with my daughter, and I love the way they have prioritised trams, buses, cyclists pedestrians, almost anything else ahead of cars. And guess what? The traffic levels are low, what there is of it flows freely but at a sedate pace, the streets people-friendly, and people are actually returning to live IN the city. The free City Circle tram made getting around really easy and stress free. Just buy a day ticket and you could use it across all modes of public transport, none of this separate bus/train/ferry tickets rubbish we put up with in Sydney.

We loved it.

Compare that to dirty, aggressive, snarly Sydney ... :roll: :roll: :roll:
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Re: Open letter to my local MP Murray Watt

Postby sumgy » Sun Nov 13, 2011 1:06 pm

trailgumby wrote:Nice work sumgy.

Saw that bit on Cheongyyecheong (sp?) awhile back thanks to a link posted here... pretty awesome stuff.

I've just spent much of the week down in Melbourne with my daughter, and I love the way they have prioritised trams, buses, cyclists pedestrians, almost anything else ahead of cars. And guess what? The traffic levels are low, what there is of it flows freely but at a sedate pace, the streets people-friendly, and people are actually returning to live IN the city. The free City Circle tram made getting around really easy and stress free - just buy a day ticket and you could use it across all modes.

We loved it.

Compare that to dirty, aggressive, snarly Sydney ... :roll: :roll: :roll:


Yep, I posted the video here in the past.
I have family that lives in Port Melbourne.
They tell me that Peak Hour in Melbourne is more like Peak Half Hour because of the public transport and other alternative transport options.
The problem that will arise from our current approach is that more and more people will be happy to live further out and commute as they have free and improved transport to get them there.
I think back to when I was a kid.
Ipswich was a huge trip, The Gold Coast was even more so.
These days we have people commuting that trip every day and when they start to bleat about congestion the gutless politicians create more infrastructure so that the spiral can continue.
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Re: Open letter to my local MP Murray Watt

Postby sumgy » Mon Nov 14, 2011 5:15 pm

Well, well, well:

Hi Stephen

Apologies for the slow reply. Murray would like to discuss this with you further. Would it be possible for you to send us a phone number so that Murray can give you a call?

Thanks very much


Chris Steer
Everton Electorate
for Murray Watt MP
State Member for Everton
Parliamentary Secretary to Treasurer and for
State Development
Phone 3855 1133 www.murraywattmp.com
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Re: Open letter to my local MP Murray Watt

Postby Oxford » Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:01 pm

I received a phone call today from Murray Watt, first of all apologising for not contacting earlier. I decided since I had the ear of a politician I would bend it for as long as possible and I did. probably close to 30 minutes. topics covered included:

- the sad state of cycling infrastructure on the northside compared to southside.

- the lack of ability for the police to take action against road rage drivers even when presented with clear evidence.

- the lack of desire by the police to even take action when presented with clear evidence of driver infractions.

- the half hearted attempt to implement cycling infrastructure, for example the gateway bridge project with no usable infrastructure connecting either side of the bridge.

- clear evidence through the MUARC studies that nearly 90% of incidents between motor vehicles and cyclists are clearly the fault of the motorist.

- whilst it may be the intention of the government to provide infrastructure, it is clearly not possible to avoid interaction at some time since no solution provides a 100% solution. as a result there will always be interaction between bicycles and motor vehicles, so driver education should be paramount.

- the government needs to implement strict liability laws such as what exists in some EC countries (I explained what that means) and educate drivers that in the event of an incident they will be considered at fault. this includes cyclists/pedestrians incidents. I gave him the example of a friend who was right crossed right outside his electorate office and the motorist was never charged by the police despite the obvious infraction. and that the motorist insurance company chased him until he got a lawyer involved.

many other things were discussed, he apparently was a cyclist commuter prior to being elected and understood. the cynical side of me believes nothing will come of it despite him saying he will talk with the attorney general about strict liability laws and the DOT minister.

in other news the sun will rise tomorrow so the hopeful side of me says maybe something will come of all this. only time will tell.
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Re: Open letter to my local MP Murray Watt

Postby sumgy » Mon Nov 14, 2011 9:14 pm

Hmmmmm, a little different to the tone of my conversation with him.
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Re: Open letter to my local MP Murray Watt

Postby Xplora » Tue Nov 15, 2011 9:29 am

Oxf, sounds like you had a very productive conversation with him. Yes, he might not get anywhere this time, but this is exactly what is required for what the media calls "a swelling of public opinion". There are very few people actually involved in shaping politics, and while this might not get things moving, if there are a dozen similar conversations, that will create some motion. There is clear policy motivation to get what you are after - it just needs more enthusiasm to implement.

You've just lobbied your local MP. Well done!
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