In a new book on her time as Indi's independent MP, Cathy McGowan has talked about her life before and how she got elected, addressed the controversial "push" allegation made against Sophie Mirabella, and pitched a new way Australia could do democracy.
The idea for Cathy goes to Canberra started back in 2013 when Ms McGowan was first elected and started keeping journals with the intention of eventually documenting her time in Parliament.
The months of lockdown at her Indigo Valley home during 2020 gave her the chance to finish.
One of her memories of developing a sense of "social justice" was when she was teased for being from a Catholic or farming family by the Protestants and "townies" on the school bus.
Back then, she went to the older girls for help.
"There was always that sense when I was growing up about building a team, so when I got into politics, it was like being back on the school bus - there's going to be people who don't want you there or are going to attack you, so you make sure you're a little bit safe," Ms McGowan told The Border Mail.
In a low point of her time as an MP, Ms McGowan was accused of getting a political advantage by not correcting a defamatory claim by the Benalla Ensign that she was pushed by Liberal opponent Sophie Mirabella in 2016.
The non-physical confrontation was actually with government minister Ken Wyatt and in the book, Ms McGowan says it was "at his request" that she "refused to answer questions about it".
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She also described the AFP investigation into 27 young people who voted in Indi while living in Melbourne to study as "the dirtiest of grubby politics", saying she suspected the Liberal Party would come after her when she won the 2013 election because "they had the reputation as poor losers".
The book ends on a hopeful note, calling for other regional areas to elect independent MPs in the future.
Ms McGowan told The Border Mail that politics would be better if country seats were competitive and Parliament had a "coalition of crossbenchers" rather than bickering in a two-party system, "which is going hell for leather and no one likes".
"I'm hoping the book really inspires some regional people to go 'a bit like North East Victoria did, we could have it better'," she said.
"I think we could have something better and part of the answer is having representatives who are held accountable by the community. What we've got at the moment is representatives who owe their allegiance to a party ... We haven't yet reached our potential as a democracy.
"We need lots more people to be engaged."
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