Bell marks decade in office

Friday April 05, 2024

DESPITE never intending to develop a career in politics, Member for Mount Gambier Troy Bell has celebrated a significant milestone.

Mr Bell was first elected to parliament as part of the Liberal Party in 2014 before leaving the party and becoming an independent member in 2017.

Now, 10 years on since being elected as the Mount Gambier/Berrin representative, Mr Bell said he initially denied the idea.

"I was not politically active and became a member of the Liberal Party after Labor sold the forest," Mr Bell said.

"I wanted to get involved and support my community and then I really believed the Liberal Party would deliver better outcomes for our community.

"I really got involved and never had the intention of standing as a local member, it was the furthest thing from my mind." He said he came around to the idea of running for the Liberal Party after due consideration and his strong family ties.

"My family lives here, my grandparents are buried in the cemetery and my parents have lived here all their lives," he said.

"My kids live here and I thought we were being overlooked by the government and those who sat on North Terrace." He said he thought becoming an elected member was a beneficial way to improve the community and opportunities for young people while also helping improve the care and health services of the elderly.

Throughout the years, Mr Bell said there had been many successful campaigns including the popular railway line being redeveloped and the Wireless Road traffic lights.

"10 years goes pretty quickly and looking back on old photos of previous campaigns it has gone quick," he said.

"There have been a lot of very good campaigns that we have had success on and there have obviously been challenges as well." He said the biggest challenge was easily the time spent away from family with country members of parliament spending upwards of 50 per cent of the year in Adelaide.

"Those in the city finish parliament, go home to their families and have meals around the dinner table," he said.

"A country member is either living in a hotel room or being away from their family for an extended period of time and having their kids grow up really quickly." He said although the time had passed in a "blink of an eye" there were also political wins such as the 10 year fracking moratorium and difficult elections.

"Each cycle presents challenges and opportunities and I think our community has done really well over the last 10 years," he said.

"We are starting to get the attention of good investments coming from the state which is pleasing and over the next two years we are going to see $130 million in projects being delivered which is quite an exciting prospect for our region." Mr Bell said other wins included those which were not made public and were often solved behind closed doors.

"It is people who have come into the office with an issue and that has been dealt with when we engage with the minister or the department," he said.

"Sometimes we are the last hope for people and we have been able to get some amazing wins for people whether it is compensation or an issue sorted out and it is those which are really meaningful to me." He said those wishing to become involved in politics should give it a go with the need for "good people" to advocate for the community.

"It is a privilege to do this role but there is life after politics which I will also be looking forward to," he said.

"Moving forward we have about two months before our new plan will be presented to the Liberal, Labor and Greens Party and any other party which is interested." He said this plan would include issues the community was facing such as public school funding, a local hospice facility, roads, future developments and the growth of the region.

"I do want to thank the community for their support and although we have not been able to solve every issue we have had a fair crack at lots of them," he said.

"I also want to thank my team because a good team is a secret to success but I also really appreciate all the community support and encouragement.

"I really look forward to the Future of Mount Gambier 2.0 and getting commitments from the next government whether it is Liberal or Labor to keep investing in our region and make this the best place to live and raise a family but also get the support a community of this size really needs."