Cathy McGowan (politician)

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Cathy McGowan
AO MP
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Indi
Assumed office
7 September 2013
Preceded by Sophie Mirabella
Majority 0.25%
Personal details
Born (1953-11-29) 29 November 1953 (age 63)
Albury, New South Wales, Australia
Nationality Australian
Political party Independent
Domestic partner David Wolfenden
Residence Indigo Valley, Victoria
Alma mater University of Western Sydney
Occupation Politician
Profession Agricultural consultant, farmer
Website cathymcgowan.com.au

Catherine "Cathy" McGowan AO (born 29 November 1953) is an Australian politician and independent MP for the rural Victorian seat of Indi since the 2013 federal election, defeating Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella.[1][2]

In 2004 she was made an Officer of the Order of Australia "for service to the community through raising awareness of and stimulating debate about issues affecting women in regional, rural and remote areas."[3] McGowan was also a recipient of the Centenary Medal in 2001.

McGowan has a Masters in Applied Science in Agricultural and Rural Development from the University of Western Sydney.[4]

Politics[edit]

Early politics and lobbyist work[edit]

McGowan worked as a staffer for Indi's Liberal MP Ewen Cameron during the late 1970s and early 1980s.[5] McGowan has also worked as a regional councillor for the Victorian Farmers' Federation and is a former President of Australian Women in Agriculture.[6][7]

Member for Indi[edit]

McGowan ran as an independent for the Division of Indi at the 2013 Australian federal election, against the Liberal incumbent Sophie Mirabella.[8] The seat had long been believed to be a conservative stronghold; it had been held by a conservative party for all but nine years since Federation, and without interruption since 1931. However, a number of area residents felt Mirabella had taken them for granted. They formed a grassroots organisation, Voice for Indi, that eventually decided to draft an independent to run against Mirabella. After numerous prominent locals turned down the offer, McGowan finally accepted.[9] After eleven days of counting, on 18 September, Mirabella conceded defeat and McGowan claimed victory, winning the seat with a final margin of 431 votes, a two-candidate preferred vote of 50.25 percent.[10][11][11] Mirabella was the only Liberal incumbent to lose her seat at the 2013 election. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation's Barrie Cassidy described McGowan's candidacy as "a warning to the occupants of safe seats everywhere on both sides of politics."[9]

It was claimed in October 2014 that 20 McGowan supporters who formerly lived in Indi changed their electoral roll details back to Indi.[12] The Commonwealth Department of Public Prosecutions pursued charges against two young voters. Their defence lawyers successfully argued the charges were "scurrilous" and that they had followed the Australian Electoral Commission's published advice in enrolling at their home address and on April 5, 2016 a Melbourne Magistrate dismissed all charges against the two voters and ordered the Crown to pay their court costs.[13][14]

Mirabella gained Liberal party preselection in late June 2015 to run for Indi in the 2016 federal election,[15] but conceded to McGowan on 3 July 2016.[16]

McGowan retained Indi against Mirabella at the 2016 election with an increased 54.8% (+4.6) two-candidate-preferred vote. The Liberal two-party-preferred vote was reduced to 54.4% (–4.7) against Labor's 45.6% (+4.7), a marginal two-party result not seen since the 1929 election.

References[edit]

External links[edit]

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Sophie Mirabella
Member for Indi
2013–present
Incumbent