EMBATTLED Liberal frontbencher Sophie Mirabella has placed the national interest ahead of personal ambition, ruling herself out of a cabinet post in the Abbott government.
Ms Mirabella, who is involved in a battle for her political survival in the north-eastern Victorian seat of Indi, said her decision allowed new prime minister Tony Abbott to choose his ministry without waiting for the result in her seat.
“This is not about me. This is about our country,” Ms Mirabella said in a statement on Thursday.
“It is now time that our new prime minister has absolute freedom to select his new frontbench.
“As my own future in the parliament is not assured, I have asked that I not be considered for selection.”
Ms Mirabella has held the north-eastern Victorian seat since 2001 and went to last weekend’s poll with a nine per cent lead.
But the dynamic campaigning of independent candidate Cathy McGowan has placed the former spokesperson for innovation, industry, science and research in grave danger of becoming the coalition’s highest-profile casualty of the election.
In late counting on Thursday Ms McGowan held a lead of 1144 votes in the two-party preferred count.
The Australian Electoral Commission says Indi will not be decided this week, a situation acknowledged by Ms Mirabella.
“The count in Indi continues to be close and it is now apparent that a clear result will not be known for many days,” she said.
“In this set of circumstances, I have taken the opportunity to speak to Tony Abbott … and express to him my pleasure that the sure and steady leadership he demonstrated in the four years prior to the election has continued over the recent days.”
Speculation had been rife that even if Ms Mirabella retained her seat, the closeness of the result would require her to devote more attention to her electorate, leaving little time for ministerial duties.
In Victoria’s other doubtful seat, the Liberals’ Donna Petrovich is clinging to a 389 vote lead in McEwen over the sitting Labor member Rob Mitchell.