WHAT has been the most pressing issue across Indi for years? The woeful train service.
Who in the federal government should be fixing that problem? Infrastructure and Transport Minister Barnaby Joyce.
Who should be pushing him the hardest to improve the state of the line? The member for Indi Cathy McGowan.
Given that scenario, it is fair to ask why Ms McGowan appeared on Thursday more concerned about Mr Joyce’s romance than stressing to him the importance of a reliable rail service.
The Nationals leader’s liaison with his staffer, Vikki Campion, resulting in her becoming pregnant prompted Ms McGowan to issue a media release “re relationships between MPs and staff”.
Without naming Mr Joyce in her statement, Ms McGowan suggested parliament was failing to match community expectations and corporate practice with its attitude towards personal relationships.
She cited the AFL, which dumped an executive for an affair with a junior, and the US congress which has banned intimate ties between politicians and staffers.
Can such a ban work?
It is a big question, but certainly not the most urgent matter for the voters of Indi.
As Ms McGowan conceded in a speech to parliament on Thursday the biggest concerns brought to her attention over summer were the deplorable state of the train service and the need for better mobile phone coverage.
She told the House of Representatives that 23 V/Line train services between Boxing Day and January 3 had been replaced by buses.
But there was no mention of Mr Joyce in her speech, even though she said last month she would be inviting him to the region as a “matter of urgency” and that “the Deputy Prime Minister needs to prioritise the promised upgrade” to the train line.
Instead Ms McGowan gave a “special callout” to Mr Joyce’s predecessor as Transport Minister Darren Chester for his efforts.
Her acknowledgement of Mr Chester reflects the frustration for the North East and Border of the ministerial reshuffle in December which saw the Victorian MP bumped for Mr Joyce.
As a New Englander, Mr Joyce is hardly familiar with V/Line services.
Therefore tackling his remoteness on our rail needs should be more of a priority than considering a motion to tackle the fallout of Mr Joyce’s love life.