Getting things done the Indi Way
Posted October 23, 2018
Indi's communities are ready to to participate in the political process to develop their own solutions to the issues that they face.
“The Indi Way” is how we get things done in Indi and how we engage with politics positively to create effective, exciting and vibrant communities, full of opportunities. I encourage constituents to use their voice and make it heard in Canberra.
Check back next week to pick up a copy of the new case study!
Ms McGOWAN (Indi) (19:36): Good evening, Speaker. Colleagues, to many Australians the way parliament works is a mystery. How do you actually get things done? As an Independent member of parliament, it's my responsibility to represent the electorate, and I'm inspired by communities that take action. Tonight, colleagues, I will give you an example of a case study titled 'Getting things done—the Indi way'. It's the third in a series of case studies. The first was 'Towards a totally renewable Indi', and the second was 'Connecting community to Canberra'.
This case study showcases practical examples of how people from across the electorate have engaged with Canberra, how communities have used the parliamentary tools and their member of parliament to take actions on matters that are important to them. Examples include local councils coming together to secure funding to eliminate mobile phone black spots, taking action on refugee issues, and acting on higher education and a national policy on regional development.
Remote Indi communities have long demanded better mobile phone services, knowing how vital phones are for our economy, social connectedness and study. The community of Indi did not wait for the government to act. Together, through the Indi Telecommunications Action Group, local government, businesses, emergency services, community groups and mobile network operators came together to form an electorate-wide strategy. The communities did the groundwork, and government responded with 48 new and upgraded mobile base stations via the federal and Victorian governments' mobile black spot programs, making us one of the top electorates nationally to eliminate black spots.
Another example is the call from communities such as Rural Australians for Refugees for more humane treatment of refugees and asylum seekers. The government's asylum seeker policy has hit a raw nerve in Indi. There are regular protests outside my office, and I receive thousands of emails demanding better treatment. As I am their representative, we have used parliamentary tools to advance the issue by supporting visits to Canberra; meeting with ministers; backing the Refugee Protection Bill 2018, introduced by Andrew Wilkie; and regularly asking questions in parliament, holding the government to account and calling for a more humane solution.
The case study also includes an example of the work of communities to lobby for a regional higher education strategy. This work started with a forum in Wodonga in 2015 at La Trobe University. Since then, we have used many of the parliamentary tools to call for a national road map for post-school education in regional areas.
The final example I'll mention out of this case study is the move for a better regional development policy. Since before I got elected, there were kitchen table conversations in Indi around the importance of higher education and a pathway from schools. Indi's message has been loud and clear and consistent: governments need to take action on regional Australia and a policy. A main driver of my work has been to influence this debate through motions in parliament, through legislation and through support for the Select Committee on Regional Development and Decentralisation. The committee's report—Regions at the ready: investing in Australia's future—is a bipartisan report which calls for a regional Australia white paper, regional deals and a new approach to regional development policy.
In conclusion, this case study, which I'm very happy to share with you, provides a snapshot of what my community has been able to achieve through using parliamentary tools, speeches, questions, inquiry, delegations, select committees and parliamentary friends. These case studies represent what we call 'the Indi way'—how we get things done, how we engage with politics positively to create effective, exciting and vibrant communities that are full of opportunities. I encourage my constituents to use their voice, to make it heard in Canberra, and to use their member of parliament effectively. All three of these case studies are available from my electorate office, in Wodonga and Wangaratta, and they're also online. Colleagues, my communities are ready to participate in the political and democratic process. They are prepared to develop their own solutions to the issues they face and they are looking forward to continuing to work with their member of parliament.