Australian Story: May 16

ABC profiles former independent Cathy McGowan, with an introduction by Barrie Cassidy.

Next week Australian Story profiles former politician Cathy McGowan, described as “the godmother of the independent movement.”

This episode is introduced by Barrie Cassidy.

When Cathy McGowan won the seat of Indi in 2013, she had no idea that she would become a lightning rod for an independent movement that is now dominating Australian politics.

More than 23 so-called teal or community independent candidates are standing in this election, many of whom have been mentored by McGowan.

Australian Story goes on the hustings with the 68-year-old farmer from Victoria as she guides candidates and rallies their army of more than 20,000 volunteers.

“In this coming election, there’s so much at stake,” McGowan said.

“It’s going to be fierce. The Coalition is not taking lightly to all these independents running, and they’re fighting for cattle stations. They don’t want to give up these safe seats.”

McGowan retired after serving two terms as an independent parliamentarian and last year, she and her team established the Community Independents Project to support candidates and their campaigns.

“People are naturally drawn to Cathy’s story of what she’s achieved as an independent and can see well, if this middle-aged, short woman from rural Victoria is able to do it, then maybe, maybe I can have a crack at being an independent for my community,” her sister, Ruth McGowan said.

Australian Story goes on the road with McGowan in the seats of North Sydney and Cowper in regional NSW.

8pm Monday on ABC.

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