Cathy McGowan AO became the first woman elected as an independent to the Australian House of representatives in 2013, and the first again to do a succession handover, with Dr Helen Haines elected earlier this year.
Now the former member for Indi is being officially recognised for her integrity, receiving a Parliamentary integrity award in Canberra today for her contribution over two terms as a backbencher.
She told Women’s Agenda that she’s incredibly proud to be recognised by her peers in such a way.
On accepting the award, she called for more of those in public office to act with integrity.
“People of integrity know when justice, compassion and mercy are of greater service to the nation than force, fear and punishment,” she said.
McGowan received the Alan Missen award from the Accountability Round Table (ART) Ltd at Parliament House, and used the opportunity to re-state her position on asylum seekers.
“In accepting this award I am calling on the Commonwealth Government to re-assess its position on asylum seekers held in indefinite detention in the Pacific,” she said.
She called on the Morrison Government to accept the offer from New Zealand to ensure any asylum seekers who are unable to go to the US can instead be settled in New Zealand, and expresed particlar concern for the 53 asyluym seekers who are still detained in the isolated Bomana facility, under heavy security.
“I say to Prime Minister Scott Morrison, ‘it is time now to act with justice, compassion and mercy’.
“The so-called Pacific Solution is too expensive. It is detrimental to our relationships with our neighbours and to the moral fibre of our nation. Indefinite detention, particularly on the Pacific islands has been going on for too long without an end in sight.”
Two Integrity Awards are awarded at the end of each Parliamentary term by the Accountability Round Table (ART) Ltd, aiming to ensure integrity in the practices and prcesses of government and the conduct of parliamentary and public officials.
The awards include the John Button award for those who are or have been office holders, and the Alan Missen award for those who have made a significant contribution as backbenchers.