THE Liberal Party has learnt the lessons from its Indi election defeat and is already looking to 2016, says field officer Karen Rourke.
Operating the Liberals for Indi office in Wangaratta, Ms Rourke said the party wanted the community to know it didn’t take Indi for granted.
The party was “absolutely” serious about regaining the seat, after the defeat of Sophie Mirabella, who was the federal member for 12 years.
It is the first time the Liberals haven’t held Indi since 1977, and Ms Rourke said that why the party had decided to open the office at 71B Ovens Street.
“We have taken the lessons out of the loss... and will formulate what comes next from that,” she said.
“The Liberal Party has always wanted to represent Indi and wants that to continue.
“They see it as a very important electorate and don’t want the community to think they are ever taken for granted.”
Ms Rourke — who worked on Mrs Mirabella’s campaign — said her position would be full-time, though one day a week will be spent in Melbourne to fulfil her duties as an executive officer of the Victorian Women’s Council, the party’s peak state body for the advancement of women.
But her job back home in Wangaratta was to meet Indi people and work with the electorate’s 10 Liberal party branches, as well as liaise with the federal Coalition.
“My role is to promote the things that the government is enacting that will impact on Indi, and give feedback from locals to the government on their policies,” she said.
“There may be times where I will comment on behalf of the Indi branches on local issues, but most often that would come from the relevant minister.”
Ms Rourke said “in no way” did the party want to impinge on the role or duties of independent MP Cathy McGowan.
Rather the party wanted to add to debate and give locals another voice.
She ruled herself out of running as the Liberal candidate in 2016.
“I’m really interested in government and its workings but it’s not my intention to run,” she said.
While the office is not yet operating fully, people are welcome to call.
An official opening will be held in the new year.