SENATOR Bridget McKenzie doubts retirement is on the radar of member for Indi Cathy McGowan leading into the next federal election due next year.
The National Party deputy leader was in Wodonga yesterday for the first time since announcing she would be relocating her electorate office from Bendigo to Wodonga in the new year which has fuelled speculation she might be considering a tilt at Indi.
Senator McKenzie, who met with Business Women Albury-Wodonga members about a recently announced future female entrepreneur program, again wouldn’t be drawn on a switch to the lower house.
“I’m a senator until 2022. It’s a job I take very, very seriously, I’m looking forward to setting up my office in the new year and moving in as soon as possible,” he said.
“I don’t see any signs of Cathy McGowan wanting to retire.
“She is doing her thing as an independent.”
Senator McKenzie said the sitting member was “doing a great job as an independent, but that can only take you so far” and being part of a government was where a real impact could be made.
The number of cross-benchers in the federal parliament has swelled with recent addition of Kerryn Phelps, who won deposed Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s old seat of Wentworth.
“You are not sitting at the cabinet table, you are not actually delivering a $550 million stronger (rural health strategy) for instance that I was able to deliver.
“Or 1000 mobile blackspot towers right across the country.
“They are the sort of things you can do as part of a Liberal-National government.
“You need someone from regional Victoria, sitting at the cabinet table making those decisions on behalf of our community and making sure we get our fair share.”
Ms McGowan said: “My focus is putting Indi first.
“Whether I am the member for Indi next time or not, the goal is to keep the electorate independent and orange.
“Indi communities have achieved great results in the past five years, 48 new mobile phone towers have been installed or funded, and $235 million has been secured to upgrade the North-East rail line.
“It’s very important that the cross-bench holds the government to account for mental health funding, hospital funding and to listen to the voices of rural and regional Australia.
“It is particularly important for the National Party to have a regional policy.”
Asked if she would like to go head-to-head in an election battle with Ms McGowan, Senator McKenzie said: “I’ve answered the question, I’m here to talk about these fabulous women, their contribution not just to the region, but to growing our national economy.”
Among the Business Women Albury-Wodonga members joining Senator McKenzie in Wodonga was Linda Griffiths-Brown, who as part of the human resources business she owns, Total HRM, runs a mentoring program for businesswomen in the region.
“I was a client of the business I now run,” she said.
“We’ve got a wealth of amazing talent and experience in this region.
“Every time you purchase from a local business, the money goes back into the local economy.”
Ms Griffiths-Brown moved back to the area six years ago and is also chair of the Alpine Valleys Community Leadership program.
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