GRASSROOTS independent Cathy McGowan says she will work across party lines to deliver for her community after she bumped former Liberal frontbencher Sophie Mirabella from parliament.
Ms Mirabella conceded defeat on Wednesday, handing the once safe Liberal seat of Indi to the independent.
“This election is over and the responsibility for the outcome is mine,” Ms Mirabella, who was expected to be a minister in the Abbott government, said in a statement.
A feeling in the northern Victorian electorate that their views had not been adequately represented by Ms Mirabella apparently helped Ms McGowan win.
“Today is not just not about me or my story,” Ms McGowan told orange-shirted supporters in Wangaratta.
“We have given the community of Indi ownership.
“We have given them a choice of who and how they are represented and, as a result, we now have 98,000 stories to hear.”
Ms McGowan listed the local train service, health and broadband as her top priorities and said she has good relationships with all sides of politics.
She said one of her first priorities will be to join the long list of people knocking on Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull’s door about the NBN.
Ms McGowan said she realises she won’t be a kingmaker or queen bee given the state of parliament, but says she will deliver for her constituents.
“I will do my very best to be the very best member for Indi that we have ever had,” she said.
“The rest of Australia is going to look upon what Indi does and say `that is a good idea, I think we could try that’.”
After 11 days of vote counting, Ms McGowan found herself nearly 400 votes ahead on Wednesday morning with only about 500 to be counted.
Ms Mirabella telephoned Ms McGowan to concede defeat before emailing a statement to media organisations.
“Despite the closeness of the count, I have decided not to seek a recount,” the statement said.
“I unreservedly accept the decision of the democratic process.”
Ms McGowan’s campaign sprung from a grassroots group called Voice 4 Indi and grew to national prominence when former independent MP Tony Windsor told a television program Ms Mirabella won the “nasty prize”.
An army of 600 McGowan volunteers combined traditional on-the-ground campaigning with social media, aiming to make the seat marginal before realising Ms McGowan could win.
“This is not an end of a campaign, this is the beginning of being a community member of the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia and I’m so proud to be the member for Indi,” Ms McGowan said. – AAP