Indi – Australia 2013

LIB 9.0%

Incumbent MP
Sophia Mirabella, since 2001.

Map of Indi's 2010 and 2013 boundaries. 2010 boundaries marked as red lines, 2013 boundaries marked as white area. Click to enlarge.
Map of Indi’s 2010 and 2013 boundaries. 2010 boundaries marked as red lines, 2013 boundaries marked as white area. Click to enlarge.

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 a part of Moira council area. The major cities in the seat are Wodonga and Wangaratta.

Changes were made to Indi’s western, boundary, losing Strathbogie council area to Murray, and gaining Murrindindi council area from McEwen. This reduced the Liberal margin from 9.9% to 9.0%.

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, serving as a prominent member of the hard-right faction of the Liberal Party. She was promoted to serve as a Parliamentary Secretary in the Opposition after the 2007 election, and became a Shadow Minister in 2008.


  • Robert Dudley (Rise Up Australia)
  • Cathy McGowan (Independent)
  • Rick Leeworthy (Family First)
  • Sophia Mirabella (Liberal)
  • Helma Aschenbrenner (Sex Party)
  • William Hayes (Bullet Train For Australia)
  • Robyn Walsh (Labor)
  • Jenny O’Connor (Greens)
  • Phil Rourke (Katter’s Australian Party)
  • Robert Murphy (Palmer United Party)
  • Jennifer Podesta (Independent)

Indi is a safe Liberal seat on paper. Reports suggest that independent Cathy McGowan has the potential to buck the trend and win the seat off Mirabella, possibly with the assistance of Labor and Greens preferences.

2010 result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Sophie Mirabella LIB 44,555 52.62 -1.76
Zuvele Leschen ALP 23,034 27.20 -4.92
Jenny O’Connor GRN 8,000 9.45 +1.87
Alan Lappin IND 4,945 5.84 +5.84
Robert Cavedon FF 3,190 3.77 -0.05
Mark Carey DEM 947 1.12 -0.57

2010 two-candidate-preferred result

Candidate Party Votes % Swing
Sophie Mirabella LIB 50,755 59.94 +0.75
Zuvele Leschen ALP 33,916 40.06 -0.75
Polling places in Indi at the 2010 federal election. East in orange, Indigo in pink, South in red, West in green, Wodonga in blue. Click to enlarge.
Polling places in Indi at the 2010 federal election. East in orange, Indigo in pink, South in red, West in green, Wodonga in blue. Click to enlarge.

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 and West.

The Liberal Party won a majority of the vote in all five areas, varying from 54.5% in Indigo to 62.8% in the east.

Voter group GRN % LIB 2PP % Total votes % of ordinary votes
West 8.67 60.04 15,949 28.56
Wodonga 8.56 56.44 13,050 23.37
South 10.79 56.33 10,236 18.33
East 9.91 62.75 8,810 15.77
Indigo 12.53 54.53 7,807 13.98
Other votes 9.33 61.61 30,471
Two-party-preferred votes in Indi at the 2010 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Indi at the 2010 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Wodonga at the 2010 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Wodonga at the 2010 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Wangaratta at the 2010 federal election.
Two-party-preferred votes in Wangaratta at the 2010 federal election.


  1. Glen
    You know my thoughts on lawyers, (& lawyers in politics). WOULD be absolutely delighted to see Mirabella humiliated, & bereft. It is a shame that Kelly O’Dwyer is not under the same pressure in Higgins.

  2. I get the feeling that Mirabella is second only to Abbott in terms of polarising Liberals, arguably hated more outside the electorate than inside it. Labor’s got no chance here, but if McGowan pulls off a win, she’ll be just about the most popular non-Labor woman in the country.

  3. You might be forgetting about Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Scott Morrison, George Brandis … Tony Abbott comes across as quite temperate compared to some of the other Liberals. And Christopher Pyne is widely considered annoying (I personally find him more amusing). Then there are some of the disliked Nationals, such as Barnaby Joyce.

  4. Christopher Pyne isn’t so much annoying as incredibly rude. He was on Q&A about a month or so ago, and whenever anybody (except that right-wing News Ltd reporter) spoke, he started speaking over them without any qualms whatsoever, even as everyone else was polite and quiet when he spoke. From memory, it was Adam Bandt and Penny Wong, along with an actor/comedian whose name escapes me.

    I agree that there are a number of people who need to be kicked out of politics, for various reasons. On the Labor side, the first one that comes to mind is Jenny Macklin.

    I think it’ll be quite interesting if the Liberals gain some seats off Labor, but find that they’re still unable to form a majority government because they lost seats to independents, KAP, etc. It’ll really test Abbott’s proclamation that he will not form a minority government.

  5. Must have missed that episode of QandA.

    Totally agree re the Abbott and minority government comment.

    The polls seem to focus on the Coalition and Greens, but don’t seem to be doing much re KAP, Independents etc.

    Watching with interest all around.

  6. Concetta Fierravanti-Wells, Scott Morrison, George Brandis

    In comparison to Mirabella, these lot are pure angels, I spent a week down here on business and the impression I get is that Mirabella is pretty well hated down here. She only gets in because of the conservative nature of the seat. McGowan comes from conservative stock so I expect to see an interesting battle. I’d like to watch this one next Saturday but the Wallabies are playing the Springies.

    As for Barnaby, I had to sit next to him a few months back on a plane trip to Roma. He was actually very polite and interesting. I was shocked. Not long after I spotted him in the White Bull Hotel in the town. Again, he was actually quite pleasant. Not sure what to make of him.

  7. Warren Grzic
    Mirabella is an embarrassment to all liberals, especially the ones that don’t realise it !!!

  8. Would like to see another Indi poll in the next 48 hrs to see if McGowan is up in the high 20s which just might give her a shot with a late surge

  9. OK, I’m going to try to predict how this seat ends up playing out at this election.

    Mirabella loses 15% of her primary vote to McGowan, and another 1% to KAP and PUP (combined). 36.5% primary vote.

    Walsh loses 5% to McGowan, 1% to Greens, and 1% to KAP+PUP. 20% primary vote.

    Greens pick up the 1% from Labor, gets the 1% that went Democrats in 2010, but loses 2% to Sex Party. Hold steady at 9.5% primary vote.

    Family First loses 0.5% to Rise Up Australia and 0.5% to KAP. 2.7% primary vote.

    Lappin’s voters split amongst the various minor parties, with about 3% going to McGowan. Numbers lost to rounding will also be assumed to go to the unaccounted for minor parties.

    McGowan ends up with 23% primary vote

    FF preferences flow to McGowan and Liberals, 50% each. Sex Party preferences flow to Labor and Greens, 50% each. KAP and PUP preferences flow 70% to Liberals, 15% each to Labor and McGowan (for simplicity, I’m ignoring the PUP flow to Greens). Minor parties and the other independent have preferences flow 40% each to Liberals and McGowan, with remaining 20% flowing mainly to Labor. This leaves four remaining candidates:

    Mirabella (LP): 40.92%
    McGowan (IND): 26.05%
    Walsh (ALP): 22.03%
    O’Connor (GRN): 11%

    O’Connor is knocked out, at 50% of preferences flow to Walsh, 30% to McGowan, and 20% to Mirabella.

    Mirabella (LP): 43.12%
    McGowan (IND): 29.35%
    Walsh (ALP): 27.53%

    Walsh is now knocked out, and 80% of preferences flow to McGowan. This leaves the 2CP at

    Mirabella (LP): 48.63%
    McGowan (IND): 51.37%

    McGowan wins with 1.37% margin. That’s my prediction. I’m not posting for the debate over the veracity of my prediction, but so we can see how good my prediction is, in 4 days’ time.

  10. Yappo
    Mid 20s, possibly even low 20s would probably see McGowan take ALP prefs, & with it the seat. Am prepared to pay Mirabella’s overly generous entitlements to see that.

  11. Interesting if slightly optimistic analysis Glen…..

    ReachTEL had her at 23.5% 2.5 weeks ago. I was thinking that McGowan has to get to around the 27-28% mark to have a chance. Over 30% and it really starts to look good.

  12. I’m putting this in the books as a _fairly_ comfortable win for MacGowan, which pleases me no end.

    Every indication is that it’s real groundswell stuff in Indi. Clearly MacGowan has run a remarkable campaign, and whatever profile she had when that ReachTEL poll was taken I am guessing would be a fraction of her profile going into the last week. There have been a raft of town hall meetings that have received wide publicity, she received an endorsement from Ken Jasper who was the Nationals member for Murray Valley for 34 years, and the Border Mail appears from a distance to be the Daily Telegraph of the Murray for all their drum beating on MacGowan’s behalf.

    Oh, and the betting markets have wound MacGowan in consistently since the start of the campaign, not one backward step. Wilkie was $10 going into election night in 2010, MacGowan has been backed into 3.20. Obviously that price still suggests MacGowan is an underdog, but I think there’s a good chance people want ‘proof’ before putting their money down on the outsider in a seat like Indi.

  13. 51.37%, eh Glen? Watch those significant figures. 0.01% of ~85,000 is ~8, so you’re predicting the margin to within eight votes. Good luck with that.

    In some classes in uni a few years back, I’d lose half a mark for not doing something like this (copied straight from your post):

    Mirabella (LP): 40.92% +/- 0.005%
    McGowan (IND): 26.05% +/- 0.005%
    Walsh (ALP): 22.03% +/- 0.005%
    O’Connor (GRN): 11% +/- 0.5%

    Pick the odd one out there. It’s called error analysis. (Lucky for you, I’m about to go to bed, so I won’t pull out the old textbooks and really go to town on this.)

    You’re enormously overthinking this – either McGowan comes second (or a narrow third, Wilkie-style), or she doesn’t. If she does, the 2pp margin doesn’t depend on anything apart from their primary votes and how many voters from all other parties (combined) put her ahead of Mirabella. Is she that popular? That ain’t a maths-geekery question… ask someone from Wangaratta instead.

  14. Glen, I can’t see Mirabella losing 16% on primary votes. I just don’t see it. Mind you, it wouldn’t bother me if what you suggest is possible, actually happens.

  15. Bird – I went to four significant figures so that I’d be providing the same sort of number that the AEC typically reports – they usually show four digits. And if I’m within about 1%, I’ll call it a pretty good prediction; if it just happens to be exactly 51.37%, I’ll be ecstatic.

    DB – As many have pointed out, even a lot of Liberals don’t really like Ms Mirabella. McGowan is a conservative, so it’s unlikely that the bulk of her votes are going to come from Labor voters – the only other place she could be getting the sort of support noted in the polling data is from Liberal voters. Hence, somewhere around 15%. Then a little bit of Ms Mirabella’s vote will be shaved off by KAP and PUP, hence the extra 1% lost.

    Yappo – which part is optimistic?

  16. This isn’t a commissioned poll from a recognised polling compnay and is only really useful for guaging the “word on the street”,

    But an online poll from today’s border mail should give all greater insight, I don’t believe you can rely on an online poll that says that Ms Mirabella will get 11% of the vote, but it does give a “temprature check” of the dissatisfaction in the seat and why the Liberals are so concerned.

  17. If Mirabella is so on the nose both in the electorate and among her Liberal colleagues, one wonders why she hasn’t faced a preselection challenge.

  18. Well obviously it’s too late now for this election, but I don’t think this kind of dissatisfaction can have come out of nowhere in the last month or two. I’m wondering why there hasn’t been a challenge much earlier.

  19. kme – before this election itself, there was no credible competition. Why change candidate when the current one is doing fine, and is currently a minister (meaning that the leadership like her)?

    McGowan pretty much came out of nowhere, she announced in May that she was running. And it wasn’t until the campaign had started in earnest, in late July, that she started making the gains. By the time it was clear that Mirabella was at risk, it was too late to change.

  20. Mirabella is obnoxious and rude. She always had the comfort of a seemingly unassailable margin for the ALP or Greens to cover. Nobody banked on a strong independent with a considerable track record of achievement to her name to throw her hat in the ring and then run a highly professional campaign.

    I suspect a preselection challenge hasn’t come because of the above reasons as well as the perception that from the party head office perspective, the job is being well done if a good margin is maintained. A preselection tussle like we saw with Peter King v Malcolm Turnbull only came about because the branch saw Malcolm as a better candidate. It would probably be unlikely ( but not impossible ) that someone of the Turnbull ilk would want to move to Wangaratta except under rare circumstances.

    On top of all this, Howard never liked her and she was always overlooked for a senior position so her ugliness would not have been so well known until the profile became more pervasive under a different leader.

    After my recent visit down that way I was amazed at the hatred, even for rusted on liberals.

  21. I think the law professor story wasn’t around, nor was Mirabella popping up so much on QandA and the like where she is clearly abrasive.

    Also, incumbents are rarely challenged for preselection.

  22. Ms Mirabella,

    She is a strange one, I agree it will be interesting how the vote goes, I wouldnt be surprised if she loses her seat, to the Independent.

  23. This could be the most fascinating race of the whole election. Completely unexpected that SM would be challenged…

    Another point of interest is that the Nationals appear to be quasi supporting MacGowan. I wonder if she will join the Nationals before the end of the next parliamentary term…….

  24. Internal polling now has McGowan ahead, new liberal material makes no mention of Mirrabella and young liberals are being taken out of key seats to try and retain this for the liberals

  25. Might young (Melbourne based?) liberals running around rural Victoria be more of a hinder than a help….. sounds pretty desperate.

  26. The libs know if McGowan loses then Indi probably won’t change anytime soon. But your right its just a desperate last minute attempt to get the deeply unpopular MP re-elected, shes already been caught out lying about what shes delivered and taking credit for achievements that the local community achieved themselves

  27. I’d say theres a labor presence but its probably just reminding the electorate who the liberal member is given that will probably be the best way to get Sophie out. Its gotten so desperate that the local libs have been told to write letters to the local paper because no one wants to write for Sophie

  28. Why would Young Liberals helping with campaigning be a problem for Sophie’s chances?

    Also McGowan is no conservative. She supports gay marriage and is soft on illegal immigration and global warming.

  29. Observer’s point is that they are being diverted to Indi from other seats, which is a sign Liberal HQ thinks she is in trouble.

  30. I’ve lived the last decade of my life in inner-city hipster enclaves, so may well be wrong, but I think the bigger issue with sending in an army of Melbourne young liberals is that they will entrench the view that Mirabella is a Toorak blow in. MacGowan’s campaign is centred around the notion that Indi is lacking a strong local voice in parliament. They’re painting Mirabella as a well to do city slicker who’s typical perspective on the electorate is from 30,000 ft as she flies over it. MacGowan, on the other hand, is ‘A Voice For Indi.’

    So I’m not sure a team of nerdy young liberals from melbourne uni are going to be much help.

    I may well be wrong. Much smarter people than me dissect these sorts of things and determine a party’s strategy, but my feeling is that Mirabella needs to make up ground in this last week, one way or another.

    And from a point of personal antipathy I really hope she doesn’t.

  31. Not so sure independants are going to be as big a hit in this parliament as they were in the last. Question is can Macgowan deliver any better than sophie?? Maybe she can. I suppose one upside for Abbott if sophie gets rolled is that it will be one less he has to cull from his front bench.

  32. Macgowan seems to be steaming home like a Bondi Tram……..Clearly going to give us something to watch…. Looks like the rest of the show will be over by 7.30 – 8.00 ish…. Don’t reckon Antony is going to get any overtime tommorrow night……

  33. Reportedly brand Sophie is on the nose with SkyNews Kieran Gilbert reporting that, “I’ve heard Libs how to vote card in seat of Indi has removed image of local MP S Mirabella, only pic of T Abbott”

  34. Unbelievable…how much do the independent supporters think that the Libs will spend in Indi over the next 3 years making Cathy McGowan look good? Welcome to ground zero. Talk about kick an own goal if she gets up.

  35. The electors of Indi have nothing to lose. As a safe seat Indi received diddly squat. At least now the electors might have sent the message that they cannot be taken for granted in the future, and shaken things up a bit. And at least we will hopefully see the back of Mirabella.

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