Cathy McGowan’s greatest threat in her electorate is that the Nationals’ candidate, Marty Corboy, will end up with more votes than her Liberal opponent, Sophie Mirabella.
If that happens, the flow of preferences could just unseat the independent member for Indi.
And the 36-year old first-time candidate is taking it seriously. “I’m in it to win in my own right,” he told UniPollWatch.
The contest in her electorate is a three-way battle with a twist. The Nationals are fielding a candidate this time because the Liberals’ Sophie Mirabella famously lost at the 2013 election. Therefore the seat is open for a challenge from within the Coalition.
This means traditional National Party voters in the electorate have a choice. In fact they have two choices. They get to decide who to vote for first, and more importantly, who to vote for second.
Indi insiders have told UniPollWatch that they are more likely to receive second preference votes from the Nationals than they are from the Liberals.
The logic works like this: If Corboy gets fewer votes than Mirabella, a significant proportion of his preferences are likely to flow to McGowan, potentially pushing her tally higher than Mirabella’s and helping McGowan’s re-election.
However, if Mirabella receives fewer votes than Corboy, her preferences will flow overwhelmingly to the Nationals, meaning Corboy could just be elected.
So who is Marty Corboy?
He is a father of six, a farmer and a businessman. He grew up in the south-west Victorian city of Warrnambool but moved to the electorate when he was 13, and now owns his own Stockfeed business in Wangaratta where he is based.
And now he hopes to use his skills as a self-proclaimed “natural campaigner” to become the new MP for the north-eastern electorate of Indi.
Corboy says he is running because he wants to win. “I have children at home who I would be rather kicking the footy with or helping them with their schooling than to run around helping another candidate.”
Corboy describes his relationship with Mirabella as “workable”. He says “we’re part of the Coalition team concentrating on delivering real results for the community”.
As a member of the Coalition, he has to say that, but in this electorate, the relationship between the Nationals and the Liberals isn’t always cordial.
For example, Cathy McGowan owes her victory in 2013 to Nationals’ support.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt that local National Party members did help out,” says Swinburne University professor Brian Costar.
“Indi of course is a bit of an iconic electorate for the National Party because the long-term leader of the Country Party and Deputy Prime Minister, Jack McEwen, held that seat and the Nats held it until 1977 when they were beaten in a very close contest in which the Labor preferences elected a Liberal.”
Corboy concedes “there were some individual National Party members [and] supporters who supported the Independent at the 2013 election.”
However, he stresses he wasn’t one of them. “They did not have the support of the executive of the party … Myself, I campaigned very strongly for the Coalition in Indi, and supported other candidates in three cornered contests like Mallee and Bendigo.”
If elected Corboy says he will concentrate on fixing the electorate’s unemployment problems. “The number one priority is job creation and job retention. We need good jobs to attract and keep people in our regions.”