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Zuvele Leschen – a bitter loser

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Sophie’s easy win, despite 7.07% swingWritten by STEVEN BURKE. (Chronicle Dec 12)

THE battle for Indi may be over but the war between Zuvele Leschen and Sophie Mirabella (MHR, Indi) has continued, with Mrs Leschen launching yet another attack on Mrs Mirabella after the declaration of the poll in Wangaratta yesterday.

“Although I would love to claim full credit for the result, I have to attribute at least part of this swing to Mrs Mirabella’s own shortcomings as a local member,” she said.

“Time and time again, dyed in the wool conservatives approached me with the comment that Mrs Mirabella may represent the Liberal Party but she does not represent this area.

“I would urge Mrs Mirabella to listen to the message this result gives her.”

AEC divisional returning officer Jenny Essex announced the declaration of the poll yesterday, which saw Mrs Mirabella win 46,058 primary votes, to Mrs Leschen’s 27,203.

Zuvele speaks as though Sophie somehow stole the election when, in fact, two thirds of us chose to keep Sophie in the job.

As a long term councillor of the Alpine Shire, she should be able to recognise that the game is over.

The two combatants will be forced to work together over the next three years, with Mrs Leschen’s role as an Alpine Shire councillor meaning Mrs Mirabella will need to discuss local government issues with her.

It is a sad reflection on Zuvele that she did not attend the declaration of the poll. She could well learn from ex-Prime Minister Howard who appeared at the ceremony in Sydney today at which Australian Electoral Commission officials formally declared Ms McKew the victor in Bennelong by more than 2000 votes after preferences – 44,685 votes to 42,251. and congratulated his rival as she was confirmed as the new MP for the seat he had held since 1974.

Get over it Zuvele, or your council days will be numbered.

Written by Greg Naylor

12 December 2007 at 7:47 pm

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  1. I don’t read any bitterness into Zuvele’s comments, Greg. It may be ungracious of her to sling off at Sophie after the declaration but hey, Sophie gets all the respect she deserves. She’s just lucky she landed one of the most conservative seats in the country. Even then, she’s done her best to reduce it down to nearly marginal. Can’t blame Zuvele for keeping the pressure on; the ALP have one eye on winning Indi next time and Zuvele is merely keeping up the political pressure on the ticking time bomb of Mirabella.


    13 December 2007 at 6:18 pm

  2. Greg, not bitter at all, not accusing Mrs Mirabella of ‘stealing’ the election, just trying to get her a very important message.
    It was always obvious that she was going to win.
    However, that this is one of the biggest swings in Victoria is a matter of hard fact and it is very important for the community as a whole that Mrs Mirabella recognises that there was a reason for that and takes it on board.
    She won’t, but at least I’ve tried to get the message across, which is part of my role as her opposition.
    As for not attending the declaration of the poll – Greg, the election is over and I have to get back to earning a living. Wangaratta is 50 minutes drive away for me, not just a stroll down the street as it is for Mrs Mirabella.
    As for needing to work with Mrs Mirabella – well, all I can say is every time I’ve approached her through formal channels, as a councillor should, there’s been absolutely no response.
    Just as, in the past, I’ve found it much easier to do my job as a councillor through direct liaision with Ministers’ officers (rather than trying to work with someone sitting on the opposition benches), I’m sure I’ll get a lot more done by directly talking to Federal Ministers.


    14 December 2007 at 9:47 am

  3. Zuvele, after reading your press release on the election result in Indi (available here), I have to agree that the Chronicle have been mischievous in their interpretation with their article above.

    You, and your party, are to be congratulated on narrowing the margin.

    However, the real swing in Indi can hardly be attributed to “Mrs Mirabella’s own shortcomings as a local member” when the previous government was so soundly defeated across the board with Mr Howard being defeated in his own seat.

    As a member of government, Sophie has achieved a lot representing the electorate and has always been available to individual voters.

    As a member of the opposition, she will need to better represent the real needs of this area such as the lack of infrastructure for an aging population and the baby boom currently taking place.

    Greg Naylor

    14 December 2007 at 7:43 pm

  4. Thanks, Greg – your fairness is appreciated.
    Murray swung by 5.7%, Gippsland by 1.8%, Indi by 7.07. The average swing for a non metropolitan seat in Victoria was 4.6%.
    Indi was the second biggest swing against a sitting member (Aston swung by 8%, I don’t know why) and the third highest swing in Victoria (the highest was 11% towards a sitting member).
    So something’s going on here that isn’t going on in like seats.
    If it isn’t Mrs Mirabella’s performance, then what is it? (I could say me but that would be immodest!)
    I’m glad your personal experiences of Mrs Mirabella seem to have been good, it’s obvious that mine haven’t been (and I can say quite honestly that I’ve made a point in the past to approach Mrs Mirabella with a positive attitude) and that those who haven’t had good experiences would talk to me (which makes it difficult to be objective). Her personal attacks on me during the campaign, however, are hard to justify however objective you are.


    14 December 2007 at 9:41 pm

  5. Thanks for responding Zuvele. So where to from here?

    Having received 32% of the primary vote do you become the voice of those seeking local change, an access point to the Federal Government for the wider community, or are you expected to fade into the background for the next three years?

    Greg Naylor

    15 December 2007 at 12:05 pm

  6. As the former candidate, I automatically become the spokesperson for Labor for Indi.
    What I make of that role is up to me.
    However, as a local councillor I have always used my State Government connections for the good of my local community (and to liaise between the community and government, as I did, for example, by organising a meeting between locals pushing the Lake Buffalo project and the then Water Minister) so I would expect that I will use my Federal government connections in a similar manner.


    17 December 2007 at 11:55 am

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