Appointment Of Voice 4 Indi Independent Candidate
From the Desk of Tony Lane (V4I Convenor)
On 19 May the Voice for Indi report was released following the 55 Kitchen table conversations of recent weeks involving 440 people. Also, the announcement was made of Cathy McGowan as the independent candidate to be supported by the Voice for Indi.
The announcement of Cathy McGowan was greeted with great applause by around 200 people at the Wangaratta Performing Arts Centre. To many it was an obvious choice as Cathy’s qualities, skills and reputation were well known. However, it is also important that people do not lose sight of what was a thorough selection process that actively sought the best possible candidate for Voice For Indi.
In its early days of being formed in Sept 2012, the V4i committee (which included Cathy) gave serious thought to having an independent candidate to carry forward the completed community conversations that were on the drawing board. Following some brainstorming sessions, a number of names were suggested as possible independent candidates. V4i representatives approached a few of these notable people to outline our ideas and invite them to consider being an independent candidate. Although receiving a good hearing, it became apparent that the notion of a V4i candidate was premature at this time and actively seeking a candidate was “parked “. This then allowed V4i to fully focus on implementing a consultation process across the communities of Indi.
Perhaps owing to the name “Voice For Indi”, the concept of an independent candidate kept attracting attention. The media regularly questioned whether a candidate would be running and the public were also showing interest in having a V4i independent candidate. However, V4i was maintaining it’s focus on community consultation and the Kitchen Table Conversations that were now taking shape. In responding to the media on this issue, V4i consistently stated that the focus was on kitchen Table Conversations and that “if suitable candidates were as to emerge, there would be a transparent process for the selection of any candidate”. This is also stated on the website in the Q & A area.
By mid April there were 4 people who had indicated some interest in being the independent candidate. On 2nd May a media release included some of the feedback from the Kitchen Table Conversations, and also formally called for nominations for the V4i candidate by 13 May. There was as least one further response to this media report. Not all who showed some interest, followed through with formal applications, however interviews were required and the selection process was guided by clear criteria and a probity document that aligned to the values of V4i. All applicants were provided with the draft V4i report prior to interview.
When in early April Cathy confirmed her interest in standing, she stood down as convener of V4i , and was subsequently was required to be absent from any V4i meeting where selection processes were discussed, and thus from then was treated equally as other applicants through the selection process.
The selection of such an obvious choice as Cathy McGowan as v4i candidate was greeted with acclaim but also had the potential to raise a few eyebrows. The above information has been provided to clarify the circumstance of the V4i journey to finding an independent candidate while ensuring equitable processes were in place. It has been a rigorous process that resulted in a good outcome for V4i and the Indi Electorate . The fact that outcome was no surprise to some people is a testament what people already knew of Cathy McGowan including her integrity , skills, experience and wisdom.