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She’s back

Sophie Mirabella has won preselection for Indi. Does she deserve a second chance?

When Tony Windsor was leaving politics, he said on Insiders that Mrs Mirabella was the person he would miss least in politics, bestowing upon her the “nasty prize”.

Sophie said that they’d had little to do with each other other than exchange “mundane, daily pleasantries” to which Tony responded

“She opens her mouth in Parliament and says things all the time. Her office is about 20 yards from mine. Her contributions to Parliament haven’t been the best.”

“She is the nastiest – I reckon if you put it to a vote to all politicians, she’d come up No.1.”

Craig Emerson added his opinion on Twitter, saying that “campaigning against Sophie Mirabella is in the national interest”.

Windsor was apparently surprised by the number of emails he received from Victorians supporting his view of Mirabella – “I was asked a question, and I gave an honest answer” – but added context to his opinion.

“My main interest is not so much about her, but that I don’t think she’s a good country member. I’ve seen her talk about country issues in Parliament and I don’t think she gets it; it’s pretty easy to see it’s from a city perspective.”

When one of Sophie’s staffers asked Liberals to write letters of support to the local papers in the lead-up to the last election they got more than they bargained for. Hoopla published a selection of which the following is an example:

Dear Editor of the Myrtleford Times,

It is blatantly untrue that Mrs Sophie “Magic” Mirabella, our local MP, is unfamiliar with the electorate. I have it on good authority that she has flown over Indi on no fewer than 230 occasions on her way from Tullamarine to Canberra, providing her with a unique bird’s-eye perspective on this electorate and the issues that matter to voters. Please retract your vicious slur on this good woman.

Your acrimoniously,

Not-At-All-Invested-In-The-Campaign Indi Voter.

Mirabella’s letter pleading for preselection this time says her “time out of the Canberra bubble has provided me with a renewed perspective… The North East is where my home and heart is.”

Whilst conceding she got it wrong last time by neglecting her electorate, in words very reminiscent of her old boss, she says the “humbling” loss changed her but she remains the party’s best chance of winning back Indi from the “ineffective independent” Cathy McGowan, who she accuses of having run a campaign “masquerading as conservative” with Labor and Greens’ support.

“We clearly require our candidate to have a high profile in our community… have local media knowledge, skills and ability to strongly demonstrate how ineffective the incumbent independent has been,” the letter reads.

“We need to be able to contrast Ms McGowan’s lack of achievement with someone who already has a strong track record of delivering for our local community.”

Sophie has already begun her smear campaign.

A further reminder of what the voters in Indi thought about their local member’s 12 year track record prior to the last election…

Dear Editor of the Mansfield Courier,

Our local MP, Sophie Mirabella, is a big presence in our local communities. She frequently visits schools in the district, where she helps young children to read, or vice versa. She has a diverse range of interests that bring her into contact with real Indi residents, including her passion for gardening, cooking, and recreational whaling.

Yours sincerely,

Contented of Mansfield.

Dear Editor of the North East and Goulburn Murray Farmer,

I am writing to let you know how impressed I am with the impressive achievements of Sophie Mirabella, in particular, all of them, which are impressive.

Yours reverently,

Long Time Reader, First Time Writer.

I decided to investigate Ms Mirabella’s claim that Ms McGowan had been ineffectual and I found an amazing record of exactly what I consider to be the perfect local member. It is far too voluminous to share with you but I will give you a very short taste of how hard this amazing woman is working both for her electorate and the country. I would encourage anyone with the time to follow the links which show someone who does their research, knows their stuff, and has an open door to her constituents and an understanding of local issues.

In the last two weeks of sitting parliament, Ms McGowan made 16 speeches.

7/9 Public transport and the need to replace aging rolling stock highlighted by a young boy missing an appointment with a specialist in Melbourne due to a train breakdown.

7/9 The erection of a new mobile phone tower at Mount Dorothy with more planned.

7/9 A petition regarding the need for internet service for Allans Flat.

8/9 The launch of the Spirit of Anzac Centenary Experience national touring exhibition in Wodonga. (She was too polite to mention how Abbott excluded and snubbed her in favour of Mirabella at the official functions).

8/9 The Water Amendment Bill and how proposed changes to the Murray-Darling will affect farmers in Indi.

9/9 The decline of local news in rural and regional areas.

10/9 A delegation from Australian Women in Agriculture to talk about “an inland fast rail route, telecommunications, particularly access to broadband and the impact of the government transferring services to internet is having particularly in rural communities where we do not have broadband. They also want to talk about the impact of changes to the working visas and students who are coming and working as WWOOF – willing workers on organic farms.”

14/9 A speech as co-sponsor of the Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill 2015 citing support from local clergy and constituents.

14/9 Several petitions from constituents concerned about the treatment of asylum seekers.

14/9 Students from Mount Beauty Secondary College in the Kiewa Valley who went to Canberra because they have just completed a semester of study of Australian politics.

14/9 The work the Army Aboriginal Community Assistance Program is doing to provide services and facilities to a small rural community an hour and a half south of Alice Springs.

14/9 She congratulated the Catholic College’s adaptation of Romeo and Juliet to the contemporary Albury-Wodonga scene and said how much she had enjoyed the performance.

15/9 She spoke about the work Landcare groups were doing in her electorate and congratulated them on some recent awards.

16/9 She spoke about rural and regional health funding for multipurpose services, specifically “two MPSs in my electorate of Indi: Upper Murray Health and Community Services in Corryong and Alpine Health in the Kiewa and Ovens valleys. Recent changes to the Aged Care Act and the establishment of Primary Health Networks jeopardise the viability of these services. We have a problem.”

17/9 She introduced representatives from Northeast Health, based in Wangaratta and servicing most of north-east Victoria, to advocate for $22.5 million to support the long-term strategic approach to deliver services in north-east Victoria. She pleaded “do not cut health funding for capital works in the next budget; make it a priority. Communities in north-east Victoria, like Wangaratta, need more money. We need to develop our service providers. Please, please, please.”

But I think my favourite speech was one made on the 14/9 inviting all of her constituents to a community summit:

Colleagues, I would like to tell you today about a really exciting event that is going to happen in my electorate of Indi on Saturday, 24 October, in Benalla. Today, particularly, I would like to address all the young people in north-east Victoria: this day is for you. Here is your chance to get involved in parliamentary democracy in our own community. Come with your voices. Bring your solutions. Share your visions. Tell your friends, your family, and your cousins: Benalla is the place to be on Saturday, 24 October.

The Indi Summit will bring together people from right across the electorate to talk about what we want for our community in the short, the medium and the long term. We are going to focus on building a strategy and having a plan for the future of north-east Victoria.

There is an opportunity to be involved pre the summit to come and talk about some of the main themes into the arts: how do we get the arts, music and culture in Indi recognised? What is the future for agriculture and food? What are we going to do about community transport into the future? How do we solve the problems of mental health and jobs? So on Saturday, 24 October, come to Benalla. All are welcome—details on the webpage.

Cathy McGowan is a woman of integrity who is tireless in representing the people of Indi, and who injects reasonable common sense into the theatrics of political combat. And then there’s Sophie.

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  1. Kaye Lee

    For those who prefer the Perez Hilton side of the news, they may be interested in how Sophie first entered politics

    There are some elements to her story that bear a resemblance to that of Kathy Jackson.,7434

    Both women have a certain ‘caring’ streak

    EDIT: kerri, great minds think alike 🙂 simultaneous posting

  2. Paul G. Dellit

    I suppose, Kaye, we might also ask whether she deserved, on the merits, her first chance.

  3. Kaye Lee

    Research by Fairfax Media using the AusGov website, has revealed more than 50 appointments of ex- Liberal or National politicians, relatives of politicians, or prominent conservative thinkers since October 2013 when the Coalition came to power .

    Sophie Mirabella, the former Liberal MP for Indi and a leading conservative, has been appointed to ASC Ltd, the government-owned shipbuilder in South Australia. She receives a director’s fee of $71,680 and despite being pre-selected for Indi again, she will not have to resign until just before the next election.

  4. kerri

    LOL Kaye Lee!
    We think alike but you are the better researcher.

  5. Kaye Lee

    Bet your house is cleaner 😉

  6. kathysutherland2013

    I have family in the electorate of Indi. Mirabella is loathed because of her neglect of the electorate and her general nastiness – my Dad, a conservative man, died just before the 2013 election. He would have been doing a little happy dance at Mirabella’s demise! Cathy McGowan is a local girl (born in Albury) and has always been regarded highly because of her community engagement. She loves the people of Indi. Let’s hope Mirabella doesn’t get back – that would destroy my Dad’s peace,

  7. Conrad

    Remember how Mirabella leant well away when (the ill and fatigued) Simon Sheikh, head of Get Up, collapsed on Q&A. She looked as though she had come across a pile of dog shit.
    What a nasty, narrow focussed, twisted person she is. This points to a big problem: how ever can Turnbull update the LNP when local members support people of her archaic and nasty disposition? I fear Turnbull will try a bit of smoke-and-mirrors trick: promise reform but not disturb the putrid LNP status quo. Sad really.

  8. Emily Davison

    Another brilliant Kaye Lee post, how does she do it? I can barely finish writing a shopping in the time it takes Kaye Lee to write an article.

  9. Bilal

    Having women in parliament is an advantage when they are in touch with their communities and responsive to the needs of the electorate. The present member is a woman and in direct and constant contact with the electorate. To replace her with a Tea Party – Bernardi wing of the Liberals – stooge would be an atrocity.

  10. jim

    Is It any wonder just look at the party Sophie is in “play with liars die with liars”

  11. mmc1949

    If Sophie Mirabella is on the board at the sub builder, perhaps there is some truth in not trusting them to build a canoe :-/

  12. silkworm

    Mirabella is the only MP to have led a march on the office of another MP (Albanese).

  13. Jexpat


    Having the likes of Mirabella to the board at ASC Ltd. is an even more transparent attempt at graft than the mechanisations behind one term two year Tony’s wink and handshake with Abe was.

  14. diannaart

    Cathy McGowan does stuff; Sophie Mirabella says she does stuff – it was ever thus from our self obsessed neo-cons.

  15. Terry2

    It doesn’t say much about the Liberal branch in Indi that they could not find a better person to represent their electorate : I wonder who the other nominees were.

  16. Pappinbarra Fox

    And what are the Nats doing?

  17. Kaye Lee

    Truss said the Nats would also run a candidate.

    The other Liberal candidates were former Melbourne Ports candidate Kevin Ekendahl and anaesthetist Andrew Walpole. I don’t think they were locals but I am not sure.

  18. Kaye Lee

    Mirabella was also given a job at the University of Melbourne as a public policy fellow.

    “The University of Melbourne says Ms Mirabella’s new role will see her assisting students, delivering lectures and organising public policy seminars and forums.”

    Except at her first lecture, some students protested chanting “Say it loud, say it clear, racists are not welcome here”.

    It should be remembered that Mirabella boycotted the Apology and said in an article in the Australian “It has been reported that an Aboriginal-led taskforce on the ‘stolen generation’ in Victoria could not identify one truly ‘stolen’ child.”

  19. Sir ScotchMistery

    I would like to add a personal note:

    I went to the Indi Speaks forum when Cathy was elected and spent a day with her and her crew of amazing people.

    Abbott would have to have been scared shitless of her. A woman of immense personal strength, and a preparedness to call bullshit wherever it occurred, without using my dreadful language of course.

    Australia needs at least 30 of her in Canberra, and another 30 in every old white man parliament in the whole country.

  20. jimhaz

    Be great if her primary vote ended up being about 5%, which is still 100 times greater than it should be.

  21. John

    She aint ‘back’ yet.
    There is still an election to go and this wonderful rural seat of Indi belongs to the Nationals.

  22. Sir ScotchMistery

    Research by Fairfax Media using the AusGov website, has revealed more than 50 appointments of ex- Liberal or National politicians, relatives of politicians, or prominent conservative thinkers since October 2013 when the Coalition came to power

    Kaye Lee you of all people, are aware of my fondness for correct use of grammar and decent syntax.

    I have given you 4/10 for that post. Also, please come to the front of the room and write on the board 100 times “liberal or conservative” in the same paragraph, nay the same sentence, OMG worse, in adjoining phrases, is a clear oxymoron and will not be tolerated.

    Professor Smith

  23. Pingback: She’s back – » The Australian Independent Media Network | olddogthoughts

  24. Aortic

    This woman’s nasty spiteful stoush with the children of her former husband should be sufficient alone for all decent minded people to keep her in political oblivion.

  25. Sir ScotchMistery

    And of course the former defence minister wouldn’t trust her to go down on a submarine from memory as well.

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