Cathy McGowan has declared she can win the seat of Indi by a bigger margin than in 2013.
The independent, who beat Sophie Mirabella by just 439 votes last time around, had been cautious in saying she believed the poll would be tight again.
But as she launched her campaign, in front of about 500 roaring supporters at The Cube in Wodonga, she was more confident.
“It’s a campaign that will see me re-elected by an increased majority,” Ms McGowan said.
Her speech, delivered to a screaming and chanting crowd all wearing orange, was reminiscent of the rallies of federal party leaders.
There were a few pointed messages for her opponents too.
The Liberal Party had criticised Ms McGowan for the times she had voted against the government in federal parliament.
In a clear response to those attacks, the independent started her speech with a series of statistics, stating she voted with the Coalition on 443 of 547 occasions during her term.
“Fears that the electorate would be starved of funding when an independent has been at the helm have been proved false,” Ms McGowan said.
“In excess of $800 million of taxpayers’ money has been committed to Indi and it continues to flow.”
Mrs Mirabella’s controversial comment, that Wangaratta Hospital missed out on $10 million in funding because she did not win the 2013 election, was also mentioned.
“I will fight for capital works for our regional hospitals, especially for Wangaratta,” Ms McGowan said.
She delivered the line with a pause and a wry smile, but the clued-in crowd responded with loud cheer and jeers.
Ms McGowan claimed stopping legislation to deregulate higher education was one of her biggest achievements during her term in parliament.
She said a “successful collaboration” with cross-bench senators made the difference.
“I believe the opening up of our higher education system to an unregulated market would have had serious negative consequences on both La Trobe and Charles Sturt universities,” Ms McGowan said.
“We are inclusive and we value diversity and the richness that this bring to all of us.”