Cathy McGowan: in­de­pen­dent MP's suc­ces­sor cho­sen by Voices for Indi

The Guardian Australia - - Headlines - Aus­tralian As­so­ci­ated Press

Ru­ral health re­searcher He­len Haines has been cho­sen by sup­port­ers of Vic­to­ria’s Cathy McGowan to suc­ceed the in­de­pen­dent fed­eral MP when she re­tires.

McGowan is sched­uled to make an an­nounce­ment about her fu­ture on Mon­day at a me­dia con­fer­ence in Wodonga.

Al­most 200 vol­un­teers from Voices for Indi picked Haines as their next can­di­date at a meet­ing to de­ter­mine a suc­ces­sion plan in Be­nalla.

“I want to thank the par­tic­i­pants who turned up on a hot day, those who have put their hands up to be con­sid­ered and Voices 4 Indi,” McGowan said in a state­ment on Satur­day. “I will now con­sider the out­come of to­day’s process and make fur­ther com­ment on Mon­day morn­ing.”

McGowan has held the north-east Vic­to­rian seat of Indi since 2013, when she pulled off a stun­ning vic­tory against the Lib­eral MP So­phie Mirabella.

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

The Lib­er­als have pre­s­e­lected Steve Martin for Indi, while La­bor’s Eric Kerr will also run.

McGowan has pre­vi­ously de­clined to con­firm any re­tire­ment plans, say­ing that the out­come of the pre­s­e­lec­tion would help her make a de­ci­sion about her fu­ture.

It was un­der­stood any fu­ture can­di­date se­lected in the process would step up when McGowan de­cided to re­tire or if she lost the seat. This would not nec­es­sar­ily be at the 2019 elec­tion.

Haines, a nurse, mid­wife and pub­lic health re­searcher from Wan­garatta, said: “If I earn the sup­port of the vot­ers of Indi, I will be ready to take that fight to Can­berra.

“We’ve seen over the last six years in Indi the huge dif­fer­ence it makes hav­ing an in­de­pen­dent voice in par­lia­ment. Cathy has de­liv­ered in­cred­i­ble re­sults for Indi. But the work has only just be­gun and we can’t af­ford for the seat to re­vert back into the hands of the ma­jor par­ties to be ig­nored once more.”

More than 200 vol­un­teers from McGowan’s past elec­tion cam­paigns se­lected Haines from a panel of three nom­i­nees. The process put can­di­dates through six hours of ques­tion­ing and de­lib­er­a­tion.

The de­ci­sion was reached by con­sen­sus of all 200 par­tic­i­pants.

Pho­to­graph: Gay Al­corn for the Guardian

The in­de­pen­dent Indi MP, Cathy McGowan, who is sched­uled to make an an­nounce­ment about her fu­ture on Mon­day.

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