Labor’s cash splash in Indi

Labor candidate for Indi Robyn WalshLABOR will step up its bidding war for Indi’s 95,000 votes today.

And according to politics lecturer Ben Habib, we can expect more money promises — thanks to Cathy McGowan’s strong campaign as an independent, which has made this election like no other for Indi.

Labor candidate Robyn Walsh will today make an announcement in Rutherglen for Regional Development Minister Catherine King.

Ms Walsh last week announced Wodonga would get $5.86 million from regional development coffers to rebuild its city centre.

Liberal candidate Sophie Mirabella has already joined Farrer colleague Sussan Ley in promising a Coalition government would provide $5 million for a cardiac centre for Albury Wodonga Health.

Five high-profile Coalition members have joined Mrs Mirabella on the campaign trail, including the Nationals’ Barnaby Joyce.

The Indi candidates will appear at a forum — hosted by The Border Mail and ABC Goulburn Murray — at Wodonga’s The Cube at 7pm today.

Dr Habib, a lecturer in politics and international relations at La Trobe University, said Indi was “an interesting situation”.

“For the first time in a long time, there’s been a serious challenger in Ms McGowan,” he said.

“From what I have seen, she ran a very good grassroots campaign with Voice 4 Indi before she announced she was running — the opposition has been more organised than it’s ever been.

“And when there’s a serious challenger, the major parties take notice.”

Dr Habib was not surprised more money had been promised, and noted the visits of Coalition leaders to Indi.

“When a seat is contestable, they have to throw the money around to try to win it,” he said.

“From the circumstantial evidence, it’s a contest in a way it hasn’t been before.”

Mrs Mirabella gained almost 60per cent to Labor’s 40per cent on a two-party preferred basis in 2010, after winning 52.62per cent of the primary vote. She has been the member for Indi since 2001.

She faces 10 opponents this time, producing the largest ballot paper the electorate has known.

Labor and the Greens have given Ms McGowan their second preference.

Ms Walsh said her announcements were not promises but “real cash Labor had delivered”.

“Indi has been taken for granted but if we make it marginal, the money will follow,” she said.

“It’s the only way you’re going to get attention from politicians.”

Greens candidate Jenny O’Connor said that “in a way” it was unfortunate the level had come down to this.

“It’s cynical, but this is how politics is played these days,” she said.

“But it’s good for Indi, so bring it on.

A ReachTEL poll last week gave Mrs Mirabella 47per cent of the primary vote to Ms McGowan’s 25per cent, with Labor trailing her.

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