My Opinion on Anthony Roberts MP

I want to open this by saying I am not a stanch dedicated voter to any political party, I vote for who I think is the best candidate for the times for the issues on hand. This opinion piece has no link to His campaign for re-election, and is just simply my account of dealing with him.

As an Intelligence officer, I like to see what I know as truth and facts out in the real world, and not flavored to a political agenda. I have heard and read many points for and against Anthony Roberts MP over the years, and I wanted to tell what I know. Firstly, I want to declare that I have known Anthony since 1989. We did student politics together, sometimes together, sometimes in opposition. I once ran on the local government Liberal ticket, as cannon fodder for East Ward. Anthony was a groomsman at my wedding. I’ve collaborated with Anthony in many fund raising events, for charities, local schools, and volunteering for local community causes & planet wide issues. I respect him as a man, and trust him as much as you would ever trust a politician. But as a politician, who is good at his job. He loves all the people who he is charged with representing, he is knowledgeable on many levels, sees the bigger picture and applies it to his local community and beyond when needed, and he has risen up the ranks because he is good at management and communicating decisions. And yes, just like any leader he has ideas and suggestions for people on the spot that in hindsight and reality don’t work out as promised. That’s the same for any politician on the planet, but I’ve seen him go the extra mile when he could, but he is after all just another human like us, trying his best, but being judged at his worst.

So now that is over with, let’s get to the history.

I meet Anthony Roberts at Kuring-Gai college of Advanced Education, where he was studying a Bachelor of Business. By that time He had graduated from Riverview College, been a member of the scouting community, and had explored many different political views and parties, and by that stage had settles on the Liberals. But he wasn’t a die hard pure liberal that I saw in others in student politics, he thought on each issue, and acted on it accordingly. He was a natural organiser and born leader, and excelled at what he did. By this stage we had met, and we were both working part time at the college, and represented students in both the Student Union and Student Association. As well as a number of student activity clubs. Once the college transformed into the University of Technology Sydney, we both continued in our roles.

One of my strongest memories, is there was a very die hard labor student, who had a physical disability. He was wheel chair confined, but loved student politics. He and Anthony both liked to debate the issues of the students, but a lot of the time their views were totally opposite. Back then disabled access and support wasn’t as important issue as it is now, and many times Anthony went into bat for his opposition. Anthony’s view was that he represent all people, not just the ones that thought like him.

Anthony rose to the top of the UTS Student Union. This was the service provider of products and services to the student body, and not a representation group of student rights. Anthony was a leader who saw that collaborating with others bodies, and combining resources, or even purchasing resources for the long term benefit of the student body. I remember under his leadership of driving sporting activities and facilities with UTS Olympic Soccer team, Sydney Boys Basketball courts, UTS rowers at Haberfield, and UTS athletics. Also under his leadership he renewed the canteen, bars, and common rooms. Anthony was also involved in the prevision of child care, parking, public transport, and bushland preservation at the Kuring-Gai campus location.

As we are both local lads who attended different but local schools in the area, and an interest in leadership and community development in our local community, we got involved in the Lane Cove electorate. He took the political path, and I took the volunteering in community pathway. I saw Anthony get elected, and served time as a central ward and as mayor. But Anthony was also into volunteering, and this almost got us both killed one day.

Anthony called me up, told me to put on my Volunteer in Policing uniform on, and come with him up to the Caroon road South Turrumurra bush fires in December 2001. I was meant to stand on the boundary line. Next thing I know I’m in a NSW Fire and Rescue community firefighting uniform. I’m given a quick how to fight fires by Anthony, and we are moving off to fight the fire storm that occurred then. I was on the lead of the hose, and as the fire was about 100 meters away I stopped and looked down to adjust by mask, goggles, and hard hat. When I looked up a few seconds later the fire had raced forward about 70 meters, and the trees were at full blaze at over 40 meter high trees.
I turned on the hose and started to spray the fire, with the water, while Anthony bought up the hose behind me in support. Within about a minute we were surrounded by the fire, and Elvis the helicopter dropped a load of water behind us, allowed us to return to the rest of the unit. If it wasn’t for the water drop, we both wold have been severely injured or dead. My understanding was that if we didn’t stop the fire up there, it would enter in the valley and would not stop taking parts of Lane Cove with it.

When I developed safety audits and neighborhood profiles for Northshore Local Area Command (Lane Cove and Chatswood Police Stations), Anthony was support me in applying that type of profiling to make the community a safer place. Anthony took a very keen interest in child care, health care, public transport, sporting facilities, senior citizen activities, and education in the Lane Cove LGA. Of course he combined these with supporting local business and community clubs, to make as many things self-sustaining as well. His focus in general was to build / develop resources and services in Lane Cove to last longer than he would be mayor, he wanted a future for his family and his local community of Lane Cove.

Back then, Anthony worked for the Prime Minister John Howard. I find it interesting that these days’ people protest about Anthony having no interest in the environment. Anthony was one of the first supporters of Carbon Credit Trading to help offset emissions. He worked closely with an Australian who was at the Kyoto accord meetings, and a big supporter of sustainable development. I remember that Anthony was also at this time an Army Reservist and did a short tour oversea helping communities in the pacific.

Often over this time, Anthony and I would clash on a number of different ideas from community safety, gifted education, the bushland, and traffic into and out of Lane Cove. But what I liked about him in this time, was he was always willing to listen to alternative views, and take them into consideration when making his decision. Even if I didn’t like the decision, I at least felt respected for having a chance to give my point of view.

Finally, Anthony got elected into NSW Parliament. I’ve seen him have great wins for himself and for his community, but I have also seen that come as a great cost to his friendships and family life also. Sure, I don’t see him around the local community of Lane Cove much, maybe only once or twice a week at the minimum. But I’m sure he is around more, but not always in the most visible sports, there is more to lane cove than just the central plaza. But he also has to represent a much wider community that is now 24 state suburbs.

Besides that, because he is also a good leader and he knows how government works at all level, he has been entrusted with a number of ministries, and none of them are the cushy lay back and do little ones. I don’t think planning, terrorism, corrections / law enforcement, fair trading, resources & energy, and housing, etc.  These are ones that you would want a very competent person in.

What I find amusing is that because he is good at his job, he gets persecuted for not spending enough time in the Lane Cove LGA. It’s a wonder he has enough time to spend anywhere in his electorate and also help to raise a family of 4 boys. But he does spend time across his whole electorate, raise his family, work for the entire state, and brings what he learns at a state level to apply to his local communities. Recently with his 12 days of Christmas, and the number of grants, government departments and agencies addressing issues in our community, he is doing the best he can to support us, with or many and wide ranging needs.

What I find funniest of all is that if he was anything other than a politician, we would be pointing him out as a successful person, doing well in his career, and he would be a role model, a local hero, etc.

So that’s it for my opinion and memories on Anthony Roberts MP. Will I vote for him, perhaps I might, perhaps I won’t. I wont know until I’m filling out the ballet paper. After all, we don’t always see eye to eye, and yes, I’ve been let down on what I think is the correct decision, because there is a greater good to be considered. But I still feel pissed off about it, but it’s just something I have to accept.

Please remember this isn’t for or against Anthony Roberts MP, we all have our stories about our politicians, who we trust and who we don’t like. I think everyone should vote for who and how they see is the best person, with the best skills and experience to help our community move forward. But at least now hopefully you have a historical opinion on Anthony Roberts MP, upon which to make a judgement.