Cathy McGowan announces retirement from politics at next federal election
Independent MP Cathy McGowan has announced she will retire as the member for Indi at the next federal election, declaring it is time to “pass on the baton” to a successor.
- Ms McGowan’s supporters have endorsed a candidate to succeed her in Indi
- The outgoing MP said she has run the “first leg of an amazing relay” and wants to support a smooth succession
- The Liberal and Nationals parties are likely to contest the seat in a three-way contest
Ms McGowan, 65, won the electorate in Victoria’s north-east in the 2013 election, when she defeated incumbent Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella.
In November last year the Voices 4 Indi community group, which campaigned for her in the 2013 and 2016 elections, posted advertisements calling for a successor to Ms McGowan.
On Saturday, a delegation of supporters voted to endorse nurse and public health researcher Helen Haines to succeed Ms McGowan should she decide to retire at the next election.
Speaking in her electorate this morning, Ms McGowan said she had decided that the “timing is right” for a fresh independent candidate in the seat.
“I’ve run the first leg of an amazing relay … now it’s time to pass on the baton,” she said.
“Yesterday I rang around my colleagues on the crossbench, I spoke to the Prime Minister, I spoke to the Leader of the Opposition, and had conversations with them.
“And they thanked me for the work I’ve done, they wished Helen well, and they said we’re going to have a very fierce competition in Indi.”
Three-candidate contest likely for Indi
When asked whether she thought Ms Haines would be able to win the seat in what is likely to be a three-candidate contest, Ms McGowan said she had “every belief” the electorate would embrace the values of her chosen successor.
“She’s an acknowledged leader in her community, there is huge respect for her integrity, ethics and values,” she said.
“She’s tough and she’s strong and I know she’ll take the battle to Canberra.
“We know the main political parties are going to throw everything at Indi, and I say bring it on. I’m really looking forward to having a battle around politics, about policy and representation.”
Cathy McGowan (left) is supporting Helen Haines to succeed her as an independent MP for Indi. (ABC News)
The Liberal Party has preselected Wodonga engineer Steven Martin as its candidate for Indi in what is widely predicted to be a May federal election.
Ms McGowan said she hoped the Nationals would preselect a female candidate for the seat.
Nationals deputy leader Bridget McKenzie recently confirmed she is moving her electorate office from Bendigo to Wodonga, fuelling speculation she may attempt to contest Indi.
When asked how she would feel about Senator McKenzie contesting the seat, Ms McGowan said she did not have a preference about any specific Nationals candidate.
Labor — which has not held Indi since 1931 — will also contest the seat with candidate Eric Kerr.
‘Australia is listening to Indi’
Ms McGowan urged her constituents to make sure that the parties vying for their vote in the upcoming election represented the issues that mattered to them.
“I say sign up to your party, I say turn up to your party, and I say speak up about the things that are important,” she said.
“For today, and the next five months, Australia is listening to Indi.”
During her two terms in parliament, Ms McGowan also campaigned for the establishment of a national anti-corruption commission.
She introduced a bill to Parliament which was rejected by the Federal Government last year, shortly before Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared the Government would support the creation of an anti-corruption commission.
Ms McGowan was strongly opposed to the removal of Malcolm Turnbull as Prime Minister last year, and criticised the Liberal Party for being “totally irresponsible”.