Cathy McGowan warns pollies not to take regional areas for granted

Cathy McGowan addresses the Rural Press Club of Victoria. Picture: FAIRFAX
Cathy McGowan addresses the Rural Press Club of Victoria. Picture: FAIRFAX

CATHY McGowan has warned the major political parties to not take rural and regional electorates for granted in her first major public speech since her maiden address to parliament in December. 

Speaking at the Rural Press Club of Victoria in Melbourne this morning, the independent member for Indi said her successful campaign came down to “a stroke of very good luck” and a “perfect storm of events”. 

However she also gave a warning to politicians who put their party’s ideology before their electorate’s.

“Electorates — even safe electorates with nine per cent margins — can change,” she said. 

“So be aware of branding rural and regional Australia as rusted-on, dyed in the wool — or dare I say it — conservative.”

Ms McGowan praised Liberal MP for Murray Sharman Stone for speaking out against the Government’s decision not to contribute $25 million to assist in the redevelopment of SPC Ardmona in the Goulburn Valley.

“Sharman Stone is being a wonderful local member, exactly what politics is all about.

“We can’t just say it’s Sharman’s problem, it’s about all of us.”

This morning the Victorian Opposition Leader Daniel Andrews pledged $30 million in taxpayer assistance to the fruit processing company, should Labor win the state election in November. 

During her speech, Ms McGowan raised the issue of electronic voting. 

She said both she and fellow crossbencher Clive Palmer wanted to see digital voting rolled out as soon as possible. 

“I’m very interested in talking to Clive about the reform of the system used to count our votes,” she said. 

“Pencil and paper is so last century, as is the ability to lose a thousand votes here or there. We could do better.”

More details in tomorrow's edition of The Border Mail.