No helicopters or jets were used

In an article written by Alex White and published in the Herald Sun on December 29, 2015, I was accused of “using private jets and helicopters” while I was Deputy Premier.

A colourful read, but a complete fiction.

There were no jets.

There were no helicopters.

Similarly, the assertion by the faceless “Spring Street sources” that I “was using private jets like a taxi service while in government”.

Again, a complete fiction.

On January 1, 2016, after I had contacted the author of the article, the Herald Sun published a “correction” acknowledging that the assertions as to my use of jets and helicopters were “incorrectly reported”!

But the damage had already been done to my name and reputation.

I was a country-based MP in the Victorian Parliament for more than 20 years, the Leader of The Nationals for 15 years and Deputy Premier for my final four years in office, during which time I held various Ministerial portfolios including Regional and Rural Development.

In the latter four years in particular, I annually travelled tens of thousands of kilometres by car visiting regional communities thought Victoria.

Country communities rightly expect that their elected representatives will attend local events, meetings and gatherings and that they will be with them in times of natural disasters and recovery.

I did my best to be there.

Invariably there were occasions when I was required to be in Melbourne but simultaneously in country Victoria.

When necessary I took a propeller driven light plane which could access country runways which sometimes comprised a mown strip in a paddock.

No jets. No helicopters.

Ironically, my use of a light plane was first endorsed by Premier Steve Bracks in the year 2000 and was observed by all governments subsequently.

I always respected the privilege.

I had the honour of representing the people of Gippsland South in the Victorian Parliament for more than two decades.

Working together we achieved much for the betterment of our communities and I am proud of those joint outcomes.

Likewise in my representation of country people across the state.

I left politics almost 12 months ago.

With what is happening around us on a daily basis I am bemused as to why a journalist would write an article like this anyway, let alone that she could not even get the facts straight.

The problem is though that the media in Australia now shapes public opinion; it no longer simply reports it.

People read it and they believe it.

I write to correct the record.