Helen Mary Haines (born 21 September 1961) is an Australian politician who has served as the independent MP for the Victorian seat of Indi since the 2019 federal election.[2]

Helen Haines

Member of the Australian Parliament
for Indi
Assumed office
18 May 2019
Preceded byCathy McGowan
Personal details
Helen Mary Carew[1]

(1961-09-21) 21 September 1961 (age 58)
Colac, Victoria, Australia
Political partyIndependent
ResidenceWangaratta, Victoria
Alma materUppsala University
University of New South Wales
ProfessionNurse, health researcher

Early life and educationEdit

Haines grew up on a dairy farm in Colac in southwestern Victoria with four brothers, and attended a public school in Eurack. She trained as a registered nurse at St Vincent's Hospital and later as a midwife at Mercy Hospital for Women in Melbourne. In 1986, she moved to northeastern Victoria and began working as a midwife at Wangaratta Base Hospital before being appointed matron and Director of Nursing at the Chiltern Bush Nursing Hospital. Haines completed a bachelor's degree at Deakin University and a master's degree in epidemiology and public health at the University of New South Wales. In 2004, she travelled to Stockholm to study at Uppsala University, completing a doctoral degree in medical science in 2012. She also completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Karolinska Institute.[3]


On 13 January 2019, Haines was endorsed by community organisation Voices 4 Indi as the potential successor to incumbent MP Cathy McGowan for the division of Indi in the 2019 federal election. McGowan, an independent, had won the seat from the Liberal Party in the 2013 election and retained it in 2016, and had stated that she would retire at the 2019 election if she was confident that an independent successor, chosen by Voices 4 Indi, would be able to retain the seat.[4] On 14 January, McGowan formally announced her pending retirement, stating her confidence in Haines and endorsing her for the election.[5]

In the lead up to the election, Haines advocated for an increase to the Newstart allowance and strong action on climate change, including a target of 50% renewable energy by 2030. She was one of seven independent candidates in the election to sign a joint agreement to cooperate on climate action in the new parliament; she also voiced her opposition to the proposed Adani coal mine in Queensland. She stressed the need for a national rural health service strategy and greater investment in rural infrastructure. She did not express a preference for either the Coalition or the Labor Party, stating that she would be willing to work with the government in either majority or minority. She also promised to hold the government accountable for promises it had made for Indi during the campaign.[6]

In the federal election, Haines won Indi, winning 32.4% of the primary vote and 51.4% of the two-party preferred vote. She became the first independent in Australian history to succeed another independent in a federal seat.[6][7]

Personal lifeEdit

Haines lives on a beef farm outside Wangaratta with her husband.[3] She has three children.


  1. ^ "Eurack-born MP makes history". Colac Herald. 22 May 2019. Retrieved 23 May 2019.
  2. ^ "Election 2019: Helen Haines keeps Indi independent as Cathy McGowan's successor wins". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 19 May 2019. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  3. ^ a b "About Helen". Helen Haines, Independent for Indi. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  4. ^ "Independent MP Cathy McGowan's successor, Helen Haines, chosen by Voices 4 Indi". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 13 January 2019. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  5. ^ "Independents tip crossbench to maintain balance of power in wake of Cathy McGowan's resignation". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 15 January 2019. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  6. ^ a b "Election 2019: Helen Haines keeps Indi independent as Cathy McGowan's successor wins". Australian Broadcasting Corporation. 19 May 2019. Retrieved 21 May 2019.
  7. ^ "'A school fete on steroids': how the first ever independent handover triumphed". Sydney Morning Herald. 19 May 2019. Retrieved 21 May 2019.

External linksEdit

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by
Cathy McGowan
Member for Indi