Young Liberal MP ready for action

Young, female and a Liberal: Melanie Gibbons at the Bigge Park tennis courts cafe on Friday morning. Picture: Luke Fuda
Young, female and a Liberal: Melanie Gibbons at the Bigge Park tennis courts cafe on Friday morning. Picture: Luke Fuda

DEADMANS Creek, a tiny but treacherous section of Heathcote Road, may well define Melanie Gibbons's four-year term as the state member for Menai.

It's located almost in the middle of her vast electorate, which takes in big chunks of both Liverpool and the Shire. Yes, Sutherland Shire.

Deadmans Creek has been the scene of many accidents, some of them fatal, for more than 40 years, and for some reason nobody has done anything about it in all of that time. Melanie Gibbons is determined she won't join that long, inglorious list.

Even though, it must be noted, it's going to be some battle to build a wider new bridge where the current deadly one serves not very well the motorists who travel from one end of her electorate to the other.

The land on the northern side is National Parks-owned. And on the southern side, Defence has ownership rights. Dealing with one government department is bad enough, as everyone knows. Dealing with two must be close to hell. Not that Ms Gibbons is indiscreet enough to say so. She just says it's going to be a hell of a job, but she won't be put off.

So she is pushing hard for widening work at Deadmans Creek, knowing it could take her entire term before she may succeed.

"I am told it could take the four years of my tenure, and it sounds cynical that this may get done just before the next election, but it's just that difficult. I just want to get it done to make this a safe part of Heathcote Road."

Fair enough, and how have you found the first 18 months in office as the member for Menai, we ask. Extremely busy, is her quick answer.

The member for Menai, who won a decisive victory at the 2011 election — the one that washed away 16 years of Labor rule in NSW — told the Champion last Friday that the pace of politics was always fast. There are three parts to an MPs life: Parliament, the electorate office and community functions galore, usually in the evening.

Ms Gibbons says that while she feels it's a great privilege to be a member of Parliament and she loves every minute of her job, her favourite is talking with her constituents when they come to her Hammondville office with their problems and concerns.

"It really is the most rewarding part of the job, to be able to help people with some of the problems they come to see me about," Ms Gibbons said.

"There's a lot of housing and health issues, parents of children with disabilities, and of course, I get a lot of Moorebank intermodal concerns," she says.

The intermodal is not a state issue of course, as it's being driven by the federal government, but Ms Gibbons says she has to listen to her constituents' concerns, whether they're local, state or federal issues.

There's no doubt Melanie Rhonda (that's her mum's name) Gibbons is the new face of politics around the Liverpool area. Just like the newly-elected mayor of Liverpool, Ned Mannoun, she is young, internet savvy and in tune with what the local people want.

That face is also a Liberal one, a new trend in the Liverpool area. The federal member in her seat is also a Liberal, Craig Kelly, who won the seat of Hughes in 2010. The major difference for Ms Gibbons is that she is a woman as well as being young, often a twin handicap if you want to go high in politics.

"Well, no, I don't want to become premier," she says.

"I will just be happy if I can once again get the opportunity to serve as the local MP."


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