Indi – Australia 2019

IND 4.9% vs LIB

Incumbent MP
Cathy McGowan, since 2013.

North-eastern Victoria.  Indi runs along the Murray River and stretches inland to cover Wodonga, Wangaratta, Towong, Mansfield, Murrindindi, Indigo, Benalla and Alpine council areas, and part of Strathbogie council area. The major cities in the seat are Wodonga and Wangaratta.

Some small changes were made to the western boundary of Indi. Indi lost Tungamah and Pelluebla to Nicholls and gained Euroa and Violet Town from Murray.

Indi is an original federation electorate. Apart from four elections when the ALP won the seat, Indi has almost always been won by the Coalition parties and their predecessors.

The seat was first won in 1901 by Protectionist candidate Isaac Isaacs. Isaacs was a radical member of the Protectionist party and did not get along with most of his party. He was appointed Attorney-General in Alfred Deakin’s government in 1905, but in 1906 he was appointed to the High Court. Isaacs served on the High Court for 24 years. In 1930 he was appointed Chief Justice by Labor Prime Minister James Scullin. Shortly after, Scullin decided to break with tradition by appointing an Australian-born Governor-General, and chose Isaacs. Isaacs served as Governor-General until 1936.

Indi was won in 1906 by Anti-Socialist candidate Joseph Brown, a former Victorian state MP. Brown joined the merged Liberal Party in 1909, although he was a fierce critic of Alfred Deakin. He lost Indi in 1910 to the ALP’s Parker Moloney.

Moloney held Indi until the 1913 election, when he lost to the Liberal Party’s Cornelius Ahern, but Moloney won it back in 1914. Moloney lost Indi again in 1917. He went on to move across the border to the neighbouring NSW seat of Hume, which at the time covered Albury. He held Hume from 1919 to 1931, and served as a minister in the Scullin government.

The Nationalist Party’s John Leckie, a Victorian state MP, won Indi in 1917. He lost the seat in 1919 to Robert Cook of the Victorian Farmers’ Union, which became the Country Party.

Cook retained Indi at the 1922 and 1925 elections, but lost the seat in bizarre circumstances in 1928, when he failed to lodge his nomination papers. The seat instead was won by the ALP’s Paul Jones.

Jones was re-elected in 1929, when Cook attempted to retain his seat, before he lost Indi to the United Australia Party’s William Hutchinson in 1931. Jones went on to serve in the Victorian Legislative Council from 1938 and 1958, and left the ALP as part of the split in 1955, ending up in the Democratic Labor Party.

Hutchinson held Indi for two terms. In 1937 he moved to the new seat of Deakin, which he held until his retirement in 1949.

Indi was won in 1937 by the Country Party’s John McEwen, who had previously won the seat of Echuca in 1934. He served as a minister in the Liberal/Country governments from 1937 to 1941.

McEwen left Indi to take the new seat of Murray in 1949, and he joined Robert Menzies’ cabinet in the new government. He was elected Country Party leader in 1958, and when Robert Menzies retired in 1966 he became the most senior figure in the government, with tremendous influence over the Country Party’s larger ally, the Liberal Party. When Prime Minister Harold Holt disappeared in late 1967, McEwen briefly served as Acting Prime Minister, and he vetoed the choice of the Treasurer, William McMahon, leading to Senator John Gorton moving to the House of Representatives and becoming Prime Minister. McEwen retired in 1971.

Indi was won in 1949 by Liberal candidate William Bostock. Bostock held the seat until the 1958 election, when he lost to the Country Party’s Mac Holten. Holten was a former footballer, and he served as Minister for Repatriation from 1969 to 1972.

In 1977, Holten was challenged by the Liberal Party’s Ewen Cameron. Despite topping the poll on primary votes, Holten lost when Cameron overtook him on Labor preferences.

Cameron held Indi until his retirement in 1993. He was succeeded in 1993 by the Liberal Party’s Lou Lieberman, a former Victorian state MP and minister. Lieberman served on the Liberal backbench until his retirement at the 2001 election.

In 2001, Indi was won by Sophie Panopoulos (now Mirabella). Mirabella served on the backbench for the entirety of the Howard government, becoming a parliamentary secretary in 2007 and a shadow minister in 2008.

At the 2013 election, Mirabella was defeated by independent candidate Cathy McGowan, who won a very tight contest by 439 votes. McGowan was re-elected with an enlarged margin in 2016.

Sitting independent MP Cathy McGowan is presumably running for re-election.

While Cathy McGowan’s margin is still relatively small, she is likely to strengthen her hold on the seat.

2016 result

Cathy McgowanIndependent31,33634.8+3.633.4
Sophie Mirabella Liberal 24,88727.6-17.127.8
Marty Corboy Nationals 15,52517.2+17.217.8
Eric Kerr Labor 8,8269.8-1.910.1
Jenny O’Connor Greens 3,4453.8+0.44.0
Julian FidgeAustralian Country Party1,8632.1+2.12.1
Alan James LappinIndependent1,7571.9+2.01.9
Vincent FerrandoRise Up Australia1,1501.3+0.21.3
Tim QuiltyLiberal Democrats8861.0+1.00.9
Ray DyerIndependent4620.5+0.50.5

2016 two-candidate-preferred result

Cathy McgowanIndependent49,42154.8+4.654.9
Sophie Mirabella Liberal 40,71645.2-4.645.1

2016 two-party-preferred result

Sophie Mirabella Liberal 49,03854.4-4.755.0
Eric Kerr Labor 41,09945.6+4.745.0

Booth breakdown

Booths have been divided into five areas. Polling places in Wodonga and Indigo council areas have been grouped along council boundaries. The remainder were split into East, South-West and West.

Independent MP Cathy McGowan won a majority of the two-candidate-preferred vote (vs the Liberal Party) in all five areas, ranging from 51.1% in the south-west to 62.2% in Indigo.

The Nationals came third, with a vote ranging from 7.3% in the west to 12.6% in the east.

Voter groupNAT prim %IND 2CP %Total votes% of votes
Other votes6.952.212,19613.1

Election results in Indi at the 2016 federal election
Toggle between two-candidate-preferred votes (Independent vs Liberal) and Nationals primary votes.

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  1. McGowan hasn’t been tested against a Liberal that isn’t Sophie Mirabella, but you would think that most people whose sole reason for not voting Liberal was Mirabella would have voted National last time.

    Maybe this election will be the first one where ALP win the 2 Party Preferred, although that is mainly a bit of trivia that will largely depend on what McGowan’s how to vote card looks like.

  2. The Nationals vote split 72/28 to Liberals – which is strong, but not what you’d want from a coalition partner.

    I would expect the Liberal -> National flow would have been stronger. I can’t think of any National vs Labor runoffs where the Liberals stood a candidate to check though.

    If this theory is true, plus my aforementioned point about Mirabella, McGowan isn’t necessarily safe indefinitely, although I don’t see her losing in an election where the Liberals are on their way out of government.

  3. Compared to other rural independents running for re-election, McGowan’s performance was actually pretty weak last time, especially running against a deeply unpopular opponent. If the Liberals were to preselect someone popular or even just inoffensive, I think she’d be in trouble, but that’s far from a given. (If they’re stupid enough to preselect Greg Mirabella, then she’d be safe as houses.) It will be interesting to see whether the Liberals genuinely target this one this time around or focus on sandbagging their marginals.

  4. My sister lives in Indi and votes for McGowan and I like her too.

    However according to the weekend media reports McGowan is to move a private members bill to get the long deceased General Sir John Monash posthumously promoted to Field Marshal which is ridiculous. Monash has been dead for 90 years and if Field Marshal rank was required for Monash or Chauvel, for that matter, they would have been promoted during WW1. Both were Corps commanders and Chauvel was promoted to Lt Gen first and Monash was promoted later during WW1. Lt Gen is the correct rank for a Corps commander. Both were knighted during WW1 too. A Maj Gen commands a Division and 3 Divisions make up a Corps. 3 Corps (or 9 Division) make up an Army and is commanded by a General. Field Marshals command a number of Armies and Monash did not command an Army nor a larger Army Group. Also if any General was promoted to Field Marshal he would out rank his superior officer the Chief of the General Staff (now called Chief of Army). However both were promoted to General in the late 1920’s.

  5. Sir Harry Chauvel, who commanded the Desert Mounted Corps in Palestine and Syria during WW1, was Chief of the General Staff from 1923-30. PM Scullion proposed promoting Chauvel in 1929 to General however Chauvel agreed to this only if Sir John Monash was also promoted to General and the PM agreed.

    Monash in the last months of WW1 commander the Australian Corps however it was composed of 5 division instead of the usual 3 divisions. However this was fewer divisions than an Army (9 division) that a General would command.


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