KEY members of the push for two key Border projects believe Sophie Mirabella is wrongly claiming credit for the success of the campaigns.
Leaders of community calls for the Border Regional Cancer Centre and the Albury-Wodonga headspace say they were “shocked” and “disappointed” the member for Indi had written to constituents highlighting her role in the campaigns.
They say Mrs Mirabella had little to do with running either campaign.
But Mrs Mirabella said her letter stated she had supported the community and she was “absolutely not” claiming credit.
Mrs Mirabella wrote to Wodonga voters that “working to support the community campaign, we successfully lobbied the chief executive of headspace, Dr Chris Tanti, for a headspace on the Border”.
“I promised to fight for a Border Cancer Centre. We had a successful local campaign and pressured former Labor Minister, Simon Crean to announce $65 million for a Border Cancer Centre,” she wrote.”
But Marianne Warren, a member of the committee that pushed for the centre, said Mrs Mirabella had little involvement beyond a letter of support.
“She didn’t attend the rally (at Gateway island that drew 1700 people), she didn’t have any involvement in the community committee and I am upset that now it’s an election, she is claiming it was her,” she said.
“She may have been supportive but she was not actively supportive.
“I want her to apologise to those who worked so hard, attended that rally and shared their stories (of living with cancer).”
The centre was announced in May 2011 on a second application to the federal government.
Ms Warren said: “It wasn’t Sophie Mirabella, it was people power that got the centre”.
Annette Baker, whose family helped ignite the headspace campaign after daughter Mary took her life, said she too was “a little bit shocked” .
“To say meeting the chief executive of headspace clinched the deal is completely insulting for the people involved,” she said.
“I would like to see a record of what she’s done before that meeting.”
Mrs Baker said when representatives of the campaign met federal Mental Health Minister Mark Butler before meeting Dr Tanti, “he pretty well gave a guarantee that this was the year we would get a headspace”.
Mrs Mirabella said the letter clearly stated she “worked to support the community” and was appropriately worded.
She said she and Ms Ley had promised to push the cancer centre and “we kept the pressure on”.
On headspace, she said: “We saw Dr Tanti, familiarised ourselves with the process, met with interested individuals”.
The Howard government had given headspace the power to decide where centres should be.
“I couldn’t say the Coalition is going to fund headspace because we gave that power to the professionals,” she said.
“I think ‘supporting the community’ is pretty clearly stated,” she said.
Mrs Baker said: “That’s not the way the letter reads, but that’s politics”.