NEWLY elected Indi MP Cathy McGowan is confident she can win a fair share of federal cash for the North East despite not being a kingmaker like previous independents.
That assurance came soon after her Liberal opponent and Indi stalwart Sophie Mirabella phoned her yesterday morning to concede defeat.
“I was very surprised and very pleased,” Ms McGowan said.
“It was a really good phone call and I was really grateful to have it.”
Ms McGowan said it was crucial she be a strong advocate for the community.
Working as a local MP, she said, was not all about working closely with Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
“Once the budget’s passed then the money exists within the government departments,” she said.
“It’s not about being a friend or otherwise of the government, it’s actually about making a case for your own electorate.
“And I’m very confident that we will be able to get our fair share of the money that’s distributed to the departments to Indi by making a good case and a good argument.”
Ms McGowan was leading Mrs Mirabella by 395 votes when counting was completed yesterday morning, with between 150 and 200 postal votes still to be counted late tomorrow afternoon.
She was at the Chiltern bakery when she received the call from Mrs Mirabella at 10.35am.
“She said: ‘It’s Sophie here Cathy, I’m ringing to congratulate you and wish you well’ and I said the same thing back.”
Soon afterwards, Mrs Mirabella released a statement in which she declared “this election is over”.
The blame for the loss was entirely her own, she said.
“Despite the closeness of the count I have decided not to seek a recount,” she said.
“I unreservedly accept the decision of the democratic process.”
Mrs Mirabella declared she would work “with every ounce of my being” to see Indi returned to the Coalition “but that is for another day”.
“Today is for Cathy McGowan.”
Member for Farrer Sussan Ley found out about Mrs Mirabella’s predicament soon after she came out of the swearing-in of the 42-member Tony Abbott-led executive by Governor-General Quentin Bryce at Government House in Canberra.
“It’s not altogether unexpected but it made me feel very sad,” she said of Mrs Mirabella’s defeat.
“I will miss working closely with Sophie on our cross-border issues, particularly in the big regional city of Albury-Wodonga where we co-operated well and have done so since 2001 when we both came into Parliament together.”
Ms McGowan said she was “always hopeful” of taking the seat.
“It’s an absolutely wonderful place to be I must admit,” she said.
“Walking the streets of Wangaratta today, Chiltern earlier on and Wodonga at the weekend, I just don’t think I had any idea of what 33,000 primary votes looked like.”
Ms McGowan thanked Mrs Mirabella for her 12 years of service to the electorate.
The result will be officially declared in Wangaratta tomorrow at 2pm.