SOPHIE Mirabella can lay claim to a new, but likely unwelcome gift, bestowed yesterday by outgoing federal independent MP Tony Windsor.
Mr Windsor gave the member for Indi “the nasty prize” via an appearance yesterday morning on the ABC TV program Insiders with fellow independent Rob Oakeshott.
His remarks quickly stirred up a frenzy on social media.
Mr Windsor — who announced his resignation from politics just hours before the leadership battle between Julia Gillard and Kevin Rudd reached its climax on Wednesday evening — declared Mrs Mirabella would be the person he would least miss in the Parliament.
He then threw his support behind Indi’s independent candidate, Cathy McGowan.
“She (Mrs Mirabella) wins the nasty prize. The people of Indi, just have a look at your representative and see how much better you could do,” he said.
Mr Windsor even offered his help to Ms McGowan’s election campaign, “now that I’ve got some time on my hands”.
Mrs Mirabella would not speak directly to media.
A media spokesman said it was Mrs Mirabella daughter’s fifth birthday party yesterday.
But a written statement was provided, not missing the opportunity for a “sledge” of her own against Mr Windsor.
“We’ve had very little to do with each other and for my part I certainly don’t know him well enough to make personal comment,” she said.
“Firstly it seems his sledge of me is dictated by his political objective to support someone like himself who backs the Labor Party over the Coalition.
“After all, Mr Windsor is the man whose electorate voted only 8 per cent for Labor but defied his electorate to put Labor in power, giving us the most hapless government since federation.”
Ms McGowan said she was thrilled “someone of national prominence has seen what’s happening in Indi”, but hoped any tit-for-tat remarks wouldn’t distract from the focus of the campaign.
“I’m part of a community movement (Voices for Indi) that has seen what’s been going in politics the past few years, and really wants it to be different,” she said.
“What we’re trying to do is build up respect for representatives and make our issues heard in Canberra.”
Other candidates for the seat of Indi were quick to voice their approval of Mr Windsor’s remarks, despite him clearly throwing his support behind Ms McGowan and not themselves.
Labor candidate Robyn Walsh said Mr Windsor’s judgement was based on “his observations of her performance” after working alongside Mrs Mirabella for many years.
“The whole idea of representative democracy is that you look at the people standing to represent your electorate, and judge which of them is the best for the job,” she said.
“Unfortunately, there are few people in Indi who have tried to work with Ms Mirabella in the past who would disagree with his opinion of her.”
Greens candidate Jenny O’Connor said: “Sophie Mirabella is such a deeply unpopular political figure, it is time for the people of Indi to use their vote to change their representation.
“Even though there are differences in our approach, we (Greens and independents) are all strongly united in wanting to change our representation from Sophie Mirabella to someone who is truly representative of the people of Indi,” she said.