Federal Member for Indi Cathy McGowan talks about her first nine months in parliament with Editor Libby PriceLIBBY PRICE July 17, 2014 3:33am
When Federal Member for Indi Cathy McGowan swept into town last week her first stop was the Ensign.
I’d met her about a decade ago when I presented the ABC’s Country Hour from Benalla at a Women in Agriculture function.
Not a lot has changed about Ms McGowan in that she still speaks 19 to the dozen and has a constant stream of consciousness with ideas, suggestions, observations. And while the community lobby that got her into power has tried to differentiate itself by changing its name to Voices for Indi, rather than the singular Voice, there is little doubt that mention Indi and the first response is ‘Cathy McGowan’.
Even though it’s nine months since the election, Ms McGowan is still campaigning. Her diary is organised with military precision. On the dot of 9.15
So, what did she have to say?
‘‘The job is really hard and really challenging and uses everything I’ve ever learned and the opportunities within it to do stuff that .
‘‘So being the Member for Indi, being independent, not having to work within the party system, being able to take the initiative to do things.
‘‘It’s a bit like playing AFL. You get a pass and I’ve got the whole field and I can hand-pass to the Nats (The Nationals) and say, ‘Here you go guys, this is yours’ .
‘‘That’s a bit of a surprise that there can be so much opportunity to advance those causes which are dear to my heart,’’ Ms McGowan said.
So what does the Member for Indi think of the eclectic bunch of new senators?
‘‘I’m loving it. I think it will all be okay, they’re all good people. It’s just a bit hard when you get started — you’re like a rabbit in the spotlight — but I think they’ll all settle down,’’ Ms McGowan said.
And the controversial leader of the Palmer United Party, Clive Palmer?
‘‘Good value. I sit next to him in parliament and his office is just around the corner. He’s warm and friendly. His politics are way different to mine but on a personal level he’s charming and easy to work with and he’s really clear about what he’s doing.’’
What does Ms McGowan consider to be her achievements so far?
‘‘You can pick up and champion issues: for example, people come and say that in Benalla there’s no bulk billing and I can talk about that. It’s not politics at all, it’s community service delivery.
‘‘When the (federal) budget came down a lot of people said, ‘how are you going to vote as an independent?’ And I said ‘Well, I don’t know, I’ve got to ask people.’
‘‘So then there was the budget impact tour. And within a week 750 people have got in contact with us, and people said, ‘Here’s our reaction to the budget’, so then I was able to say, ‘Here’s what the people of Indi are saying, and it’s neither here nor there what you do with it but I’m representing them’.
‘‘Then I took this report to the cross-benchers in the Senate and they took a look and said, ‘Fantastic, thank-you for that’.
‘‘The long and the short of it is I’m supporting the government, totally supporting the government’s role in managing the budget, however I say, ‘These five issues, they’re going to have a disproportionate impact on us so we would like to work with you on amending it.’ And they go, ‘Oh, that’s all good stuff’.’’
Ms McGowan didn’t really like me describing her as ‘like the Energizer battery bunny beating its little drum ad infinitum’, but she certainly seems to have endless energy and goes to the proverbial ‘opening of a lunch box’.
‘‘Eighty-five per cent of invitations that have come into the office I’ve been able to accept. Part of the job is being available to people and being around,’’ Ms McGowan said.
Make no mistake, Ms McGowan is still very much a part of the Voices for Indi who now make up an army of volunteers, taking to the streets with questionnaires and travelling with her to Canberra (indeed there are volunteers living in Canberra who billet other volunteers). Just last week volunteers opened a Voices for Indi office in Wodonga staffed by 12 volunteers.
‘‘Every week that parliament sits we have volunteers up there. No reason why we can’t get volunteers from Benalla and do columns on what it’s like,’’ Ms McGowan said.
If past history is anything to go by, independents invariably win a second term. So if you’re thinking of volunteering, there’s another five years to go.
Perhaps the current army of volunteers will become a little battle weary and new faces will be conscripted to keep up what Voices for Indi sees as ‘fighting the good fight’.
Today the The News is launching its Downsizing Shepparton Campaign.
The Yarrawonga Pigeons have secured a vital win over Wangaratta Magpies at JC Lowe Oval in Yarrawonga.
Murray Dairy has appointed Ross Read from Toolamba West in the extension co-ordinator role.
An Echuca man has pleaded guilty to bashing and kidnapping another man in Moama in August 2013.
Fiona Colenso was shocked last week when Campaspe Shire contractors arrived to fence off her driveway.
The final 25 players have been chosen to represent the Goulburn Valley Football League in their quest to regain the number one football ranking in country Victoria.
A 640 000 bird proposal finally gets the green light from Strathbogie Shire Council.
Record cattle prices were recorded at the Finley Saleyards on Friday
People in rural and remote areas are significantly over-represented in the number of deaths and serious injuries on our roads.
Cobram Barooga residents are being encouraged to eat pink this month to support breast cancer research.
First Deniliquin crop shows promise.
The Farm Water Program Round 4 Registration of Interest call has reopened to enable irrigators who may have missed the main call another opportunity to participate.
Former Member for Indi, Sophie Mirabella has two other contenders for Liberal pre-selection for her old seat.
Discover unbelievable local deals from local businesses every week in the Goulburn and Murray Valley area with Leapon.com.au!
Search properties for sale or rent across North Central Victoria and Southern NSW. Visit your local website for local homes....
Search for published and unpublished photos from McPherson Media Group newspapers and magazines. All our photos are available to purchase.
Place an advertisement in any one of McPherson Media Group's local newspapers.