Local, Independant and Effective

News from 117 Murphy Street, September 5, 2014

Posted September 05, 2014



The Independent Member for Indi continued her fight in Parliament to improve services for rural people, speaking on two major pieces of legislation.

Cathy spoke on the Higher Education and Research Reform Amendment Bill 2014 and believes the proposed changes will negatively impact rural and regional students and families. Respondents to the Budget Impact Tour in May identified changes to higher education as a major concern.


These included:

  • the impact of changes to interest rates on HELP loans;
  • the deregulation of the university fee system;
  • cuts in funding;
  • the scholarship system;
  • increase in costs for postgraduate degrees.


Indi has excellent models of higher education: La Trobe, Charles Sturt University and GoTAFE deliver for students to enter the workforce with a solid educational platform. They need more government support, not less. Cathy agrees in a market system for education, but adding greater competition into the marketplace will benefit the ‘Big Eight’ and detract from the rural and regional education providers. This group has special needs that Government must acknowledge and financially support.

People in Indi already pay a huge cost for higher education and Cathy believes a rise in fees to attain a degree or tertiary qualification will be a further disincentive. The Bill passed in the House of Reps yesterday and Cathy did not support the reforms. When Parliament resumes in a fortnight, she will continue to talk to Victorian Senators and cross-benchers to encourage changes to the legislation.

Renewable Energy Target 

Retaining the Renewable Energy Target has popular support in Indi, and has been embraced by households and business. This week more than 50 constituents contacted the office to say they support the RET and want to see it remain in place. About 15 per cent of households rely on solar energy to power their home. The RET is viewed as a vital scheme to help combat climate change and reduce carbon emissions. Yesterday, Cathy told Parliament about her full support for keeping the scheme in place. Local businesses say the scheme works, and it is important for keeping jobs.  

Minister for Environment, Greg Hunt, called for public input to this discussion and Cathy has invited him to visit Indi and see the environmentally friendly attitude first-hand. People in Indi are passionate about the environment and community groups like Totally Renewable Yackandandah are being creative to become reliant on clean energy.   

Question Time 

In Question Time on Tuesday, Cathy called on Treasurer Joe Hockey (pictured) to include a rural and regional ministerial statement in future budgets. The Independent Member for Indi believes this statement is vital for understanding how the budget will impact rural and regional electorates. Cathy will continue to push Government to re-introduce this important document into the budget and seek clarification from Mr Hockey.

Workers at Australia Munitions need Government decision 

Australia Munitions workers in Benalla and Mulwala are anxious to hear whether the Government will sign long-term contracts for the factories to manufacture munitions for the Australian Defence Force. Cathy is delighted the Minister for Defence, Senator the Hon David Johnston, is coming to the region next week and extends him a warm welcome. A positive announcement will bring job security to employees and confidence to the communities and businesses.     

Community service acknowledged 

Cathy made two speeches of a community nature. She praised Kinglake-based Firefoxes Australia - Women Rising Together from Black Saturday for supporting local communities in Murrindindi, post-2009 bushfires. The group has won awards for sharing skills and their knowledge of community development and resilience with other disaster-affected communities across Australia. The Red Cross is celebrating its centenary and Cathy spoke about the work done by the Eldorado branch, particularly Mary and Dick West for their significant contribution.

Diary ahead 

Next week, Cathy is attending the MIND Art Gallery exhibition opening, meeting with HVP Plantations general manager Rob Hescock, dining with Dederang Primary School students and community, and will deliver the 2014 Mann Lecture at La Trobe University on Thursday night.

The 12-month anniversary of Cathy’s election to become the Independent Member for Indi will be held on September 20 at Belvoir Park (Sumsion Gardens), Wodonga from 11am-2pm. The public and media are welcome to attend. It’s a BYO picnic/barbecue lunch and Cathy will say a few short words to mark the occasion. Please let us know if you can make it.

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