Do you want a star politician as your Member of Parliament? 87



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There’s a term in politics for when a political party puts in a big name in the party into a race for safe seat, often into a seat in which that candidate has no history. It’s referred to as parachuting them in. Some go on to become a part of the community and do a great job representing their constituents, some less so.

An example of perhaps a star that didn’t shine as a local is Sophie Mirabella. She grew up in Melbourne, went to university in Melbourne, and in the 2001 Federal Election won the seat of Indi, a large electorate in north-eastern Victoria. Taking in towns such as Wodonga, Rutherglen, Bright, Beechworth, Wangaratta, and Benalla, it has been a predominantly safe seat for conservative since 1900.

Mirabella held the seat until the 2013 Federal Election, losing to the independent candidate Cathy McGowan. In her article Where it went wrong for Sophie Mirabella, Jennifer Podesta, a local business owner and an independent opponent in the 2013 election in Indi, had this to say:

I would venture to say that Mrs Mirabella was never especially popular in her electorate, but a deeply entrenched conservative history and a lack of any serious alternatives meant she had enjoyed a relatively uncontested run.

She has clearly done very little for the electorate in her time as our elected representative, but then to be fair she has been in opposition for much of this time and in a very safe seat, which ensured that neither party were likely to be jumping at spending money in Indi.

Even this may have been overlooked, had she been more engaged locally, sympathetic to her people’s needs, or willing to show up other than when their was a plaque to be unveiled. It had become very clear that her main focus was on her career and the Liberal party’s role at a national level and not on representing her electorate.

Additionally Mirabella had some problematic media appearances, so she was fighting unpopularity from both inside and outside her electorate.

So to my question, what do you think about a ‘star’ politician flying in, winning, and not perhaps paying very much attention to local issues? That they might be more about working for the party nationally than for your electorate? How important do you think it is to have someone grow up in the area that they represent, or at least be seen to be trying hard to ’embed’ themselves?

We look forward to hearing your thoughts in our comments section.

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  1. Seems to me Sophie Mirabella was neither a star nor an effective local member and I sincerely believe that politics is much better for her absence. Her resurrection seems to me a refection of the paucity of talent in Government ranks. Good luck in Indi Cathy McGowan.

    2 REPLY
  2. Many politicians, especially those in safe seats, long ago lost the notion that they represent anyone other than their own egos and lust for power

  3. I think a local person is better as they know the community and understand all the problems in that community. Such as bad roads needing improvement schools needing better facilities parks and playgrounds etc. it is definitely a must for local politicians anyway. I lived in an electorate once and the federal member didn’t live on our side of the bridge and never bothered to come across. I cheered when he lost his seat.

  4. Stood in front of a sexist banner, shame. Cathy McGowan is helping women. The audacity to recycle Mirabella no respect for her at all.

  5. We DO have a blow-in (Pru Goward) and she’s USELESS>

    1 REPLY
    • Yes I lived in that electorate when the one she hoisted was in, she was the same politics, but she really worked for the area and was very approachable.

  6. I wouldn’t like it because l would know that they are only put there because they are likely to be elected , with no record of helping/ being involved with the local community.

  7. Sophie Mirabella was one of the most disliked Liberal Politicians, I hope Cathy McGowan can retain the seat. Even though I am not in Indy I have Cathy liked and she is fantastic to her electorate, she asks their opinion on issues, most Politicans don’t even consult

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