Mirabella to lose frontbench seat regardless of result

SOPHIE Mirabella will not take a place on Prime Minister-elect Tony Abbott's frontbench even if she holds the Victorian seat of Indi, which remains on a knife's edge five days after Australians elected a new government.

As counting continued on Thursday Ms Mirabella issued a statement ruling herself out of contention for a ministry, saying "this is not about me - this is about our country".

It came as the likelihood of independent Cathy McGowan causing the biggest upset of the election, with the exception perhaps of Clive Palmer in Fairfax, continued to grow.

With 84% of the vote counted, Ms McGowan led by 1449 votes over her polarising rival.

Ms Mirabella, who was in line for the industry and science portfolio, said she had informed Mr Abbott of her decision, adding she did not want to halt the "momentum he has generated since the election".

"The count in Indi continues to be close and it is now apparent that a clear result will not be known for many days," Ms Mirabella's statement read.

"It is now time that our new Prime Minister has absolute freedom to select his new frontbench. As my own future in the Parliament is not assured, I have asked that I not be considered for selection.

"Tony has my strongest support as well as my deepest respect and affection. Australians will be very well served by him as our Prime Minister."

Ms Mirabella said the Coalition had an abundance of people with "great substance" who would perform well in the Cabinet.

Liberal Party MP Dennis Jensen wasted no time in spruiking his credentials for the science portfolio as the jockeying to replace Ms Mirabella on the frontbench began.

Topics:  federal election 2013 sophie mirabella tony abbott

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