CATHY McGowan is continuing to play her cards close to her chest when it comes to which side of politics she would back if elected “a true independent” for Indi.
Pressure is mounting for Ms McGowan to declare her allegiances, as reports surfaced that National Party members, and even some Liberals, are backing her to oust Sophie Mirabella.
There have even been suggestions Ms McGowan was chosen by the Nationals, as the party cannot run a candidate in the seat of a sitting Liberal member, as per Coalition rules; an allegation to which she said there was “nothing there at all”.
“And nor am I for the ALP, and nor for the Greens,” she said.
“This is totally and utterly a community campaign.
“Some people are saying I’m Nationals, others are saying I’m Greens, others are saying I’m Labor, so I think I’m right where I need to be as an independent.”
Several high-profile National Party identities on the Border are remaining tight-lipped, with few willing to reveal their views.
Don Chambers, the National Party president at Rutherglen who ran against Mrs Mirabella in 2001, said he knew people from all three main parties — Nationals, Liberals and Labor — who “for their own reasons” would be backing Ms McGowan.
Mr Chambers said it was fair to say there were “tensions” between the Liberals and Nationals, particularly in the Mallee electorate, where a three-cornered contest is under way.
He said he would back Mrs Mirabella as he believed she was a “good local member”.
Ken Jasper, former state MP for Murray Valley for more than 40 years, said he was not prepared to comment but was “watching very closely”.
Tim Fischer, former deputy prime minister and National Party federal leader — who lives in Indi — said he would be “deeply interested in all marginal seats”.
“I think Andrew Broad (the Nationals candidate in Mallee) is off to a flying start and Sussan Ley (Liberal MP) is off to a flying start in Farrer,” he said.
“I have no comment on Indi.”
Ms McGowan’s credentials include working as a staffer for former Indi MP Liberal Ewen Cameron, and being a member of the Victorian Farmers Federation and National Farmers Federation 2030 committee.
She has said she supports some Labor policies, such as its Better Schools reforms and the NBN, and she would push for a bipartisan approach on both asylum seekers and climate change.
Ms McGowan said while her past was “all part of who I am” she had also worked “across a whole spectrum of the community”.
While talk of hung parliaments were at this stage “very much hypothetical”, she said her preference would not be to be kingmaker and instead go to a second election, an option which both major parties have said they would follow.
Pushed on which party she might side with if necessary, Ms McGowan said: “I’d be making a really big mistake if I showed my hand on all these issues three weeks early... I’m taking on board what people say then I’ll actually decide if it’s a reality”.
She said voters preferred to talk about real issues.
“People are asking, ‘Cathy, what can we do about jobs?’ and ‘what can we do about public transport?’” she said.