Sophie’s desperate choice: Indi booths blanketed with negative ads, heavies on guard


Local businesswoman Jenny Anderson of Rutherglen Lamb has been driving around Indi with a couple of friends, lending support to Cathy McGowan’s campaign.

By Wayne Jansson

September 7, 2013

In what can only be seen as a desperate act, Sophie Mirabella’s early Friday night took almost all available space at polling booths for Liberal posters.

The Mirabella team then posted security guards at booths in Wangaratta, Wodonga and Benalla. Citizens took to Twitter to voice their concerns and started going to their local booths to check their patch democracy had not been overwhelmed by Mirabella’s heavy-handed tactics.

As often the way on Twitter, others used humour to voice their disgust with Mirabella.

Lauren McCully for Robyn Walsh (ALP) told No Fibs via email:

“We are absolutely disgusted at the Liberal Party tactics at smothering polling booths with negative propaganda from as early as 7pm the night before the election. On inspection of a number of booths in Wangaratta this evening, we have found little to no space being afforded to anyone else but the Mirabella Camp. This is a desperate ploy by a desperate local member who is struggling to get a finger on the pulse in INDI. I am sure the electorate will see through this blatant negative and hostile campaign lead by Sophie Mirabella and elect a true representative to INDI.”

The Greens Jenny O’Connor told No Fibs:

“She’s very threatened. She can have all the security guards she likes but people are going to vote according to what matters to them. It appears changing our representative in Indi is what matters.”

I asked Jenny if she viewed such tactics as intimidation:

“Of course, its part of Sophie’s modus operandi, heavy handed tactics to try and intimidate people. But it won’t work….you can put on security guards, try and bribe people, posters everywhere, spend a fortune on advertising, but it seems people of Indi are not convinced by that. They want a representative who is decent. I’m also concerned about my single poster!”

Cambell Klose, the media manager for Cathy McGowan said via email:

“Tonight, the night before election day they have coated every major polling booth with huge coreflutes and plastic wrap warning people against voting independent. It is a step too far and the people of Indi will see through it. What we have seen from Mirabella’s campaign is how out of touch from the electorate she is. People are tired of the same old negative slogans and bitter politics that have plagued the last parliament (much of which is due to our member). We’ve come too far and done too much to allow dirty tactics like this to stand in our way. The wonderful thing about democracy is that everyone gets to have a say and let’s hope the people of Indi make the right choice tomorrow. There is certainly a wind of change blowing through the electorate and a lot of people are saying the time is right to finally get a representative who cares about the people.”

For the past 2 to 3 weeks, Indi has been bombarded by a campaign aimed squarely at trying to convince voters not to vote for independents. Most of the advertisements, flyers and letters told voters only the Liberals could deliver stable government and independents equalled instability. Mirabella has been telling voters only a member with a seat at the cabinet table can deliver for the people of Indi. That message was completely undermined by the coalition’s announcement on Thursday of planned cuts worth $2.48 billion from the Regional Infrastructure Fund.

Locals made up of McGowan supporters and others took to the streets of Wangaratta on Friday voicing their disapproval of the cuts in store if the coalition is elected.

The coalition also announced a “rephasing” of the Murray-Darling Water Buyback Scheme. Four years worth of buybacks would now be spread over six years.

The prize for the most aesthetically placed sign goes to Bob Murphy of the Palmer United Party.


Margo Kingston will be in Indi today. Margo (@margokingston1), Tom Anderson (@TomAnderson62) and myself (@jansant) will be tweeting from around Indi during the day and into the evening.

Have a great election 2013.

Good luck and thank you to all the candidates around Australia, its the people willing to step up and have a go that helps keep our democracy strong.

More Indi reports here

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  1. Sophie Mirabella is truly a disgrace & it is, unfortunately, all too indicative of what is happening elsewhere with L-NP candidates. There have, allegedly, been incidents of attempts at bullying supporters of non-L-NP candidates over placement of advertising material at pre-polling booths. No doubt the same will happen on polling day.

    Remember these are the born-to-rulers.

  2. Poor Sophie… bye bye Sophie. How ironic that finally the LIberal assault of the past three years looks like reaping results – and Sophie may not be there to enjoy the spoils (that’s the poor Sophie bit).

  3. I am so over the Coalitions use of negative emotional prompts. I know it is supposed to inflict doubt and emotional foreboding, but when you are saturated with it for three years in Print, Radio, Television and Internet, one starts to feel like life is a oxymoron from your waking to sleep time. If there is one thing I hope from this election, I hope it stops when it is done. I am so over it and how it is making my Nation’s people angry. Curse them all, for being so callous to do this without considering their Constituent’s well being of mind! There is a distinct lack of care in the action to prove any lack of concern for the Public. Power at any cost.

  4. Go Cathy. Sophie being seen for what she really is – a nonexistent member.

  5. Good Luck Cathy.. seeing the end of Soppy Mirabella could be the only positive in this election…

  6. Desperate acts when there is no ability to behave Caught out being not up to it, and being essentially supported by headquarters. Glad to see the back of her in the Parliament. Why do the LieNP preselect so carelessly and why in general are the LieNP supporters so badly behaved on line and in reality? Wouldn’t want most of them as a neighbour. Does aspiration to be wealthy make you less sensitive and more greedy? Mahatmar Ghandi would have thought so.

  7. On Saturday morning reports started emerging Mirabella had been order to remove Liberal posters that had been wrapped around the polling booth at Wangaratta Tafe. A photo was tweeted of Mirabella and husband Greg removing the offending posters.

    No Fibs spoke to witnesses later that morning who said they had seen the incident.

    The Officer In Charge of the booth confirmed Mirabella was indeed ordered to remove her posters because – “on a polling place”.

    No Fibs then spoke to the local Divisional Returning Officer and confirmed Mirabella had attended the pre-meeting and was informed of the rules.

    In a Border Mail election update posted Sunday, the Divisional returning officer denied Mirabella was ordered to remove any posters at Wangaratta Tafe booth. A second AEC spokes-person also denied the incident.

    No Fibs has since spoken to a witness in detail about the incident:
    “I was setting up, the RO’s come through and said all these have got to come off the building, I said they’re not mine, I’m not touching them. I told him to go to the red van over there and see Greg Mirabella (who had been there all night watching their posters). Greg got on the phone and within 15 minutes Sophie and Greg started ripping the posters down.”

    No Fibs has contacted the AEC to clarify their position, we are waiting for a reply.