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Indi goes down to the wire -

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ELEANOR HALL: While Tony Abbott agonises over who to disappoint on his new frontbench, voters in the Victorian electorate of Indi may make one decision for him on that score.

It's looking increasingly likely that the Liberal's Industry Spokeswoman, Sophie Mirabella, will lose her seat, making her the only sitting Liberal to be defeated at this election.

As a recount of the vote heads into its final stretch, Ms Mirabella is now behind Independent, Cathy McGowan by around 1,700 votes.

And as James Bennett reports, the Australian Electoral Commission says it has never seen so much public interest in a contest.

JAMES BENNETT: The rural seat of Indi takes in the Victorian high country and prime farmland in the state's east.

Historically conservative, this election it's bucked the national trend to see a swing of 10.7 per cent against Liberal frontbencher Sophie Mirabella.

With 78 per cent of the vote counted, Independent Cathy McGowan leads Mirabella by 1,755 votes.

The Australian Electoral Commission's Manager of Operations Steve Kennedy says the more than 8,000 postal votes remaining to be counted traditionally favour the Liberals.

STEVE KENNEDY: The last two elections has been identical at 65 per cent of them go to Liberals.

JAMES BENNETT: Now with the distribution of preferences, you had to essentially re-jig that, didn't you, to reflect the close run nature of the contest between an Independent which was a bit unexpected?

STEVE KENNEDY: It was, it has a lovely term in electoral circles where it said the division of Indi on Saturday night went maverick of all things. So we normally figure out who we think will be the two preferred candidates.

So who we think the top two will be. And we'd picked Liberal and Labor and it's turned out to be Liberal and Independent. So we're having to redo the distribution of preferences. That's why we're a little, we're probably about a day, a day and a half behind where we would normally be, but we're catching up quickly.

JAMES BENNETT: Cathy McGowan's campaign has sought to capitalise on a perception that Mirabella was neglecting the seat she's held for 12 years and now the prospect of an upset in the otherwise uniform swing is seeing unprecedented interest in the contest.

Steve Kennedy.

STEVE KENNEDY: Down at McEwen where it's very close, we only have about ten scrutineers. But at Indi we have between 40 and 50 on each day.

I haven't seen that level of interest in a count, ever.

JAMES BENNETT: That must make for an interesting atmosphere within the tally room?

STEVE KENNEDY: Yeah, that's been the feedback from our staff there and from a lot of the media, that it's been a personalities based campaign up there rather than a policies based campaign. But either way, we'll count the votes.

JAMES BENNETT: One of Sophie Mirabella's scrutineers is staffer Adam Wyldeck.

ADAM WYLDECK: My understanding is that the AEC allow the same amount of scrutineers for the same amount of AEC staff that are there counting the ballot papers.

So there's 21 AEC staff counting the papers. So they allow 21 scrutineers from each side. The count this morning that there was 18 from the Liberal Party. There was 21 from Cath McGowan's camp and there was three or four from the Labor Party.

JAMES BENNETT: Mirabella has been criticised for underestimating her opposition, who has also received the backing of state Nationals.

But Adam Wyldeck says more surprising has been Labor's backing to unseat the incumbent.

ADAM WYLDECK: The Labor Party scrutineers are here essentially by the looks of it working with the McGowan side. They know, and this is what we'd said from day one of this campaign, that the Labor Party knew that they couldn't win a seat. So they're doing everything they can to support the McGowan campaign. And that's reflected in the scrutineers today.

JAMES BENNETT: Scrutineering for Cathy McGowan, Rowan O'Hagan says the Independent remains wary of the postal vote.

ROWAN O'HAGAN: We probably need to maintain the lead that we've got at the moment, I think. We're cautiously optimistic; I think is the best way to describe it. We are optimistic that if we can maintain the preference flows that have been happening up until this point based on yesterday's distribution, that Cathy will get over the line.

ELEANOR HALL: That's scrutineer Rowan O'Hagan ending that report from James Bennett. And the gap has now narrowed, with Ms McGowan ahead by 676.