Cathy McGowan AO
Member for Indi (Vic)
The first Independent to represent the rural division of Indi and first female Independent in the House of Representatives, Cathy McGowan stood for Parliament at the urging of grassroots movement, Voice for Indi.
Pledging to listen to and involve her community, particularly young people, McGowan championed local issues, resulting in significant investment in telecommunications, infrastructure, health and employment in Indi. She repeatedly called for the appointment of a youth minister and spoke out for the LGBTQI youth in her electorate, co-sponsoring a bill to legalise marriage equality.
A rural consultant and farmer, McGowan was keenly aware of the ‘constant struggle to have our rural voices heard’. As well as introducing a bill for an office for regional Australia, she used her position on committees to successfully push for inquiries into regional issues.
Social justice and good governance were among McGowan’s key drivers, and her advocacy for an independent anti-corruption body to oversight members of parliament was rewarded when the government committed to establishing a Commonwealth Integrity Commission. In addition to supporting new laws to give refugees in offshore detention access to medical care in Australia, McGowan was ‘particularly proud’ of helping to change rules governing gender dysphoria and to make it easier for vulnerable witnesses to give evidence to parliamentary committees.
Succeeded by another Independent at the 2019 election, McGowan retired saying, ‘I’ve run the first leg of an amazing relay … now it’s time to pass on the baton’.