House debates

Wednesday, 30 March 2022

Constituency Statements

Indi Electorate

10:12 am

Photo of Helen HainesHelen Haines (Indi, Independent) Share this | | Hansard source

This may be my last chance to speak in this place before the election. I never take for granted the privilege of speaking out to give voice to the dreams, achievements and struggles of my constituents. I've stood up time and time again to make sure that Indi gets the best outcome. Standing up for Indi isn't just about being loud; it's about understanding, deep in my bones, what matters to our community and what we need. I've worked with government when they were on the right track and called them out when they've got it wrong. As an Independent, I'm focused on what's right for us, not what's right for the party. By representing Indi, the issues that matter to us have remained on the national stage, even when this government wanted to forget them. I've been a fearless champion for community renewable energy, and we've secured over $7 million for local projects. I've worked constructively with the energy minister. We will have a hydrogen plant in Wodonga, one of the first of its kind. My electorate is fast becoming a renewable energy powerhouse, and everyday people are already seeing real benefits from this.

In mental health, I've worked with the outgoing health minister to secure funding for ongoing mental health workers to support the Upper Murray community after the devastating bushfires. Without our efforts together over many months, the community would not have this.

Regarding the border closure, looking back, it feels like a bad hallucination. It's hard to believe that our community was torn in two for months. I worked to allow doctors to cross the border to work at Northeast Health Wangaratta. We fought to get midwives and maternal and child health nurses across the border. As an Independent MP, I could stand up to push the governments on all sides to come good for the people.

And there's the integrity commission—a broken Morrison government election promise. It has not been forgotten. I hear from my constituents, again and again, on street corners and even at the local footy club: 'Keep going. Don't give up! What you are pushing for is what we need to see.' And I can assure you, I will never give up.

Picture this: a thriving, regional community, with a strong, local economy, better health care, reliable phone and internet coverage and better rail services, where young people find jobs and homes and older people are cared for. This is what regional Australians want for their communities and this is what I want for Indi, and I will never stop fighting for it. If we're ever going to achieve this vision, the time is now and this is the moment. As we look to rebuild after a turbulent two years, the need for Independent representation has never been stronger. We can't go backwards. We've seen what happens when an incumbent takes their community for granted, and I will never do that.