Cathy McGowan: independent MP's successor chosen by Voices for Indi
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.
The independent Indi MP, Cathy McGowan, who is scheduled to make an announcement about her future on Monday.