Turn back the clock to November 2001 and Luke Hartsuyker had just won the seat of Cowper.
The federal electorate’s boundaries have changed since then but Mr Hartsuyker has remained a constant as the Cowper MP.
Mr Hartsuyker has just celebrated 16 years in the job.
“I want to thank the people of Cowper for supporting me for those 16 years,” he said.
“It’s a great honour to represent an electorate in the Australian Parliament and we are in an area with such fantastic potential.”
Port Macquarie became part of the Cowper electorate after a boundary redistribution, which also shifted the northern areas of Sapphire Beach to Red Rock to the neighbouring electorate of Page.
People raised concerns about Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour being part of the same electorate.
“I think the reality is Commonwealth funding goes where the growth is,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
“We have these two regional powerhouses in the one electorate of Cowper, which I think is exciting.”
Mr Hartsuyker spends as much time in Port Macquarie as possible.
The Cowper MP will open an office at 4/146-150 Gordon Street on December 4.
“The administrative wheels of government can turn slowly,” he said about the time taken to have an office presence here.
Two staff will work out of the office.
Mr Hartsuyker, reflecting on his 16 years as Cowper MP, said one of the greatest rewards was seeing the North Coast really start to move ahead.
I want to thank the people of Cowper for supporting me for those 16 years.Luke Hartsuyker
“We really are seeing some solid growth along the North Coast and the creation of real opportunities emerging with Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour becoming major regional cities with real commercial momentum,” he said.
“That means there are great opportunities for people to make a lifestyle choice but also to have a career as well.”
Mr Hartsuyker said there was an expansion of the big centres and some of the smaller centres were experiencing much lower unemployment rates than once existed.
Mr Hartsuyker says he is an absolute advocate for regional development.
“I think regional Australia can play a far greater role in our economic future than it currently does,” he said.
Mr Hartsuyker said there was serious competitive advantage in locating business units in regional areas.
Faster road connections thanks to the Pacific Highway upgrade, fast internet through the NBN and universities help make the regions more attractive to businesses.
“There are so many commercial reasons that business could locate to a regional area,” Mr Hartsuyker said.
Meanwhile, a federal politician’s life goes hand in hand with time on the road.
“Being away from home is a challenge … but there are lots of people that spend time on the road ” he said about other professions.
Mr Hartsuyker was elected on 10 November 2001 when Garry Nehl retired after 17 years in the federal parliament.
Cowper, which spans from Port Macquarie to Coffs Harbour, has more than 118,000 people on the electoral roll.