Mirabella under siege in Indi


By Wayne Jansson,

7 August, 2013

Now that the election has been called, it’s time to give my first seat update on Indi. The campaign period wasn’t even a day old when the first shock came through – independent candidate Alan Lappin pulled out after suffering a heart attack. Alan received 5.84% of the primary vote in 2010 and was widely tipped to improve on that this year.

Voice for Indi candidate Cathy McGowan, with a bit of blind luck, held her campaign launch at The Cube in Wodonga on the same day the election was called. The Border Mail reported that more than 400 people attended. It is being reported locally that she supports the ALP’s NBN, however in our NoFibs Interview she stated that “neither of the parties, neither of the programs… seem to be able to deliver for the people living in Indi”.

Communications is one of the main platforms Cathy is running on. But there is very little information in her broadband policy about how she intends to solves the issues of connectivity for large areas of Indi, which for many will remain even with the NBN.

McGowan has also released her health policy, which throws up another inconsistency from our interview. The policy states that there are “problems getting in to see a GP and affording co-payments”, but when I asked her about a lack of health professionals during our interview she didn’t see it as an issue. I’m wondering why Cathy thinks people have to wait so long in some areas to see a GP if it’s not because of a lack of GPs, especially bulk-billing GPs. Hopefully I can get some clarity on these issues over the next few days.

Tony Windsor (@TonyWindsorMP) who famously gave Sophie Mirabella (@SMirabellaMP) the nasty prize on ABC’s Insiders, also indicated he’d like to help McGowan’s campaign in Indi. I emailed Tony Windsor on Tuesday asking if he plans to do so – as yet I’ve not had a reply.

According to her campaign launch highlights video, McGowan will be releasing policies soon on transport, education, aged care, agriculture and food.

Lee Luvara of Katters Australian Party has pulled out of the race, and a replacement is to be announced soon.

The Australian Sex Party is running Helma Aschenbrenner, who I’ll try to catch up with soon. Helma’s Facebook page is here.

The current member for Indi Sophie Mirabella has been notably absent at the recent candidates forums, and in general, so much so that The Border Mail ran a story and a poll about her absence. The poll asked: “Do you think Sophie Mirabella has a good enough excuse not to attend a Q&A with the other Indi candidates?” 

A whopping 92.4% answered “No, if she wants to win votes she should be there to answer to voters.”

I have been told by one of her opponents that she has committed to attending the next forum. I discovered via Twitter yesterday that she was in Indi on 26th July with Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) discussing the Liberal plans for broadband. Perhaps Sophie is slowly waking up to the fact that Indi could be a sleeper. My bet is its no coincidence Malcolm was in town given one of  McGowan’s main platforms is broadband and mobile access.

The ALP’s Indi Campaign Manager tweets:

There’s no doubt any serious challenge to Sophie has a lot of ground to make up, but Indi could be in for the perfect storm. Here’s what I’m thinking:

  • There is widespread dissatisfaction with the current member.
  • Many lifelong conservative voters I’ve spoken to do not want to see Tony Abbott as prime minister.
  • Cathy McGowan is seen by many as having strong ties to the Nationals, a large block of Sophie’s vote.
  • Cathy has a well organised and resourced machine behind her.
  • With Alan Lappin out of the race,  there is close to another 6% of the primary vote for candidates to grab and they will not be heading Mirabella’s way.
  • Katters Australian Party and Palmer United Party fielding candidates will further erode Mirabella’s lead over her rivals.
  • Communications is a major issue and everyone knows the Liberals’ broadband plan is a dog, especially for rural people.


As I was about to file to Margo, Crikey posted Mirabella Panics as Indi Race Gets Closer with a leaked email.

The candidates final positions on preferences will be very interesting.


Only a fool would predict a Mirabella loss, especially this far out, but things seem to be getting very uncomfortable for her in Indi.

I’m still trying to get an interview with Sophie.

More Indi reports by Wayne

Support an independent media voice. Support No Fibs Citizen Journalism.
Monthly Donation


  1. Okay, I’m a fool, only if to see her lose – to anybody!

  2. Hi Wayne – is Jenny Podesta still on the scene – how is she polling?

  3. Sophie has been taking the electorate for granted since 2001.

    It’s time Sophie. Time to ship out!

  4. Patrick Daniels says

    A glaring omission is that a Greens candidate is also running – Jenny O’Connor

  5. Robert Lappin says

    Fair dinkum; why would anyone want to interview Sophie Mirabella? Mirabella just parrots Tony Abbott’s three word slogans and mythical mantras as if that’s all people are capable of understanding. In stark contrast to Lou Lieberman, she’s been a disaster for Indi for more than a decade. What a relief it’ll be if one of the remaining candidates gets the nod ahead of her.

  6. Malcolm Scott says

    ‘Communications is a major issue and everyone knows the Liberal’s broadband plan is a dog, especially for rural people.’

    Wayne, I suggest you educate yourself on the practical differences between Coalition and Labor NBN policy as it relates to rural people, and especially the Indi electorate.

    There are many circumstances where FTTN will be vastly superior in service to the Labor NBN wireless solution that would be particularly common for rural communities. Moreover, given Labor trashed the previous nation building broadband contract 6 years ago, after which broadband investments by service providers greatly reduced, I’m surprised that anyone would want to wait for Labor’s solution which as a project is suffering massively from cost and timeline overruns.

    A fast to service and very capable broadband service can’t come soon enough I would have thought. That is clearly the benefit of the Coalition’s solution so well argued by Malcolm Turnbull. The lower cost to users would also have a great social equity benefit as well, which is especially applicable to rural communities and small businesses.

    If anyone has doubts, please look at the NBN rollout plan http://www.nbnco.com.au/when-do-i-get-it/rollout-map.html. So much of Indi electorate will be poorly serviced by the current project plan and even if things go well, some fortunate areas will be implemented on the never never (same as saying construction commences after 2016).

    These opinions are mine and in no way should be construed as supporting Sophie Mirabella whom is yet to articulate substantial and well developed policies in her areas of portfolio responsibilities.

    • Hi Malcolm
      VDSL was only ever intended as an interim technology, a fraction of the speed of fibre. Its upload speeds are vastly inferior, which is a huge disadvantage with the growth of cloud technologies. To attain the speeds promised by the Liberals the copper network needs to be in near pristine condition. Especially in rural Australia, we all know its in an extremely poor state. At times because of the poor state of the lines its even difficult to maintain a dial-up connection. Line noise for many is a constant problem even on voice. While I have no doubt Labor’s NBN is massively superior to whats on offer from the Liberal’s, on McGowan’s point in our interview that neither plan delivers for rural people, I agree.

  7. Go Sophie… no really… GO


  8. Cath O'Connor says

    Can we see a ‘vitriolic’ letter to a newspaper that is from a McGowan supporter? Is this just another LNP fib?

    • Here’s a FB page you may be interested in https://www.facebook.com/lettersaboutsophie

      • I have just looked at that website and thank you for it. I can’t find a post from anyone who claims to be a follower of Cathy McGowan. Perhaps Sophie’s staff are wrongfully attributing the nasty comments to Cathy’s followers who have declared to focus on what is needed for Indi and NOT on personalities.

      • vivienne29 says

        The letters are a spoof. There have been no vitriolic letters published in the local press. The Border Mail is the biggest and widest read – no one single nasty letter let alone a vitriolic one.

      • Yes I have since had it pointed out to me that the website is a spoof and I am so enjoying the posts there now. Really brighten up my day.

      • My understanding is that the fb page was created in response to the claim that there were ‘vitriolic letters’ in newspapers. It is a parody website.

  9. robin herry says

    it’s true,soph was doorknocking in yarrunga ,wangaratta ,late this afternoon . she’s getting worried……..

  10. Genevieve O'Reilly says

    About time mirrabella put some work into the electorate. She was parachuted in and has created little by way of a legacy. She needs to realise that she is supposed to be the servant of her constituents. Something she has never come to grips with. Mirrabella will get the response she deserves as an indifferent representative.

  11. I also think some people are starting to realise that if the Liberals are returned and Mirabella is a Minister, her focus will not be on the concerns of her electorate.

    • vivienne29 says

      I thought that right from the beginning. Having done bugger all for 12 years why or how would she have time to devote herself to Indi as a Minister in the bloody Cabinet. Any success in Indi (headspace and cancer centre) has been soley through community grass roots campaign – no help from Sophie at all.

  12. Could someone please ask Sophie her views on climate change given she could be Science Minister in the event of her retaining her seat in Indi and a Liberal victory.