CATHY McGowan believes Indi voters elected her because they were “in a mood for change”.
“There was disillusionment and disengagement at the national level,” she said.
Ms McGowan highlighted the community group Voice for Indi’s work in engaging with the community over the past year.
“We offered a vision, a way ahead. It wasn’t just about negativity and stopping things,” she said.
“It was actually saying what the future of Indi could be like, how could a community build a future and, through Voice for Indi we’re going to work on that agenda.”
Ms McGowan said in Wangaratta yesterday that Voice for Indi would hold a community summit early next year as a basis for a long-term strategic view for the area to reach its potential.
“We’ve got an enormous body of goodwill and skill now and we know we can deliver on that,” she said.
Ms McGowan already expected the fight for Indi in 2016 to be “hotly contested”.
She said that while she had run as an independent, it was a win for the community.
“We couldn’t have achieved this result without more than 600 active volunteers who worked tirelessly behind the scenes to engage the Indi communities,” she said.
Ms McGowan will thank her “orange army” tomorrow night with a celebration at the Oxley hall.
“I think the fundamental feeling among supporters is pride,” she said.
“It’s pride that this is rural Australia at its best,” she said.
“We’ve done it and we’ve done it really well and we’re really proud of the outcome.”
Ms McGowan said her priority was to establish community relationships.
“I’ll be setting up meetings with the people I need to speak to — the state members, councils and stakeholders — to get things going,” she said.
“My maiden speech will be in November and it will outline what my planned approach is.”
For now, she is focused on setting up offices in Wangaratta and Canberra and appointing staff ahead of the first sitting of Parliament, probably in November.
Ms McGowan said she was confident she could work across the traditional divides because she had good relationships with the major parties.
“Even some Greens voted for me,” she said.
She said she was also keen to develop relationships in Parliament, “because I want to be there for the long-term” for Indi”.