Re­tir­ing McGowan passes ba­ton in race for Indi

Geelong Advertiser - - NEWS -

VIC­TO­RIAN in­de­pen­dent MP Cathy McGowan will re­tire from pol­i­tics after her sup­port­ers anointed ru­ral health re­searcher He­len Haines to re­place her.

Ms McGowan, 65, an­nounced yes­ter­day she would not con­test her north­east Vic­to­rian seat of Indi at this year’s fed­eral elec­tion.

“It’s time to pass on the ba­ton. He­len Haines is an ex­cel­lent can­di­date and is ready to go,” Ms McGowan said.

About 200 of Ms McGowan’s sup­port­ers from the Voices 4 Indi group on Sat­ur­day de­cided Dr Haines would run as an in­de­pen­dent in the place of Ms McGowan when she de­cided to re­tire.

“The tim­ing is right now be­cause the right per­son has put their hand up, with con­fi­dence and con­vic­tion,” Ms McGowan said. “She’s been sup­ported by the com­mu­nity and the com­mu­nity have said ‘we’re ready for the changeover’.”

Ms McGowan first won Indi in 2013, de­feat­ing long-serv­ing Lib­eral MP So­phie Mirabella with a strong grass­roots cam­paign. She in­creased her mar­gin to 4.8 per cent at the 2016 elec­tion, hand­ing an­other loss to Ms Mirabella.

Dr Haines, who is also a nurse and a mid­wife, said she wanted to give back to the com­mu­nity she has lived in for more than 30 years.

“We need in­tel­li­gent women. We need ru­ral women. We need peo­ple from the com­mu­ni­ties to speak up and say ‘Can­berra, we want bet­ter than what we’re see­ing’,” Dr Haines said.

The Lib­eral Party has pre­s­e­lected pro­ject man­ager Steve Martin, while for­mer Wodonga coun­cil­lor Eric Kerr will run for La­bor.

Health Min­is­ter Greg Hunt said Mr Martin would push for prac­ti­cal pro­grams for doc­tors in the elec­torate.

“I think Steve Martin is an un­be­liev­able tal­ent who is com­pletely fo­cused on de­liv­er­ing health and med­i­cal re­search out­comes,” Mr Hunt said.

Na­tion­als deputy leader Brid­get McKen­zie has hinted at con­test­ing the seat, mov­ing her of­fice from Bendigo to Wodonga and re­fus­ing to rule out a switch to the lower house.

“We know the main po­lit­i­cal par­ties are go­ing to throw ev­ery­thing at Indi. I say bring it on,” Ms McGowan said.

Indi MP Cathy McGowan

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