Cathy McGowan's independent successor in Indi named
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Cathy McGowan's independent successor in Indi named

Public health researcher Helen Haines has been chosen by a Voices for Indi forum to succeed Cathy McGowan as their next independent candidate for the seat.

About 200 volunteers from Cathy McGowan’s past election campaigns threw their support behind Dr Haines, 57, to succeed Ms McGowan, at a forum in Benalla on Saturday. The decision was reached by consensus of all 200 participants.

Cathy McGowan's successor as independent candidate for Indi, Helen Haines, and Alana Johnson from Voices for Indi.

Cathy McGowan's successor as independent candidate for Indi, Helen Haines, and Alana Johnson from Voices for Indi.Credit:Voices for Indi

It is not yet clear whether Ms McGowan will retire at the federal election in May. She is due to hold a media conference in Wodonga on Monday morning.

“Today has been a fantastic demonstration of grassroots politics in Indi and a further acknowledgment of the process that led to the election of an independent six years ago,” Ms McGowan said in a statement on Saturday.

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“I will now consider the outcome of today’s process and make further comment on Monday morning,” she said.

Independent MP Cathy McGowan will annouce her future on Monday.

Independent MP Cathy McGowan will annouce her future on Monday.Credit:AAP

Dr Haines from Wangaratta said it was a "privilege" to be the next independent candidate for Indi.

“I’ve lived in the north-east for 32 years. I have raised my family here and have spent my professional life fighting to improve the quality of healthcare in our region," she said.

“We’ve seen over the last six years in Indi the huge difference it makes having an independent voice in Parliament.

"Cathy has delivered incredible results for Indi. But the work has only just begun and we can’t afford for the seat to revert into the hands of the major parties to be ignored once more."

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Voices for Indi spokeperson Alana Johnson said Saturday's decision stemmed from more than 12 months of intensive planning and consultation and a unique forum that saw the three applicants put through six hours of questioning and deliberation before a consensus was reached.

“This rigorous process has engaged people from every Indi community and has demonstrated, again, Voices for Indi’s commitment to doing politics differently,’’ Ms Johnson said.

Rachel covers general and breaking news for The Age.

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