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The Independent Weekly
August 6 - 12, 2010
Young and the restless
Alight breeze of complacency
rustles the leaves of the trees
in the south-eastern elector-
ate of Boothby. But dark clouds
from Blackwood to Brighton are
threatening. A storm is brewing in
the once blue-ribbon Liberal seat
held by Andrew Southcott.
Boothby sits firmly in middle-
class Adelaide. Its constituents
include small-business owners,
self-funded retirees, families and
Julia Gillard s parents. When
Southcott first won his seat in 1996,
it was by 11 per cent.
Mr Southcott s perceived lack
of campaigning is reflected in the
whittling down of his lead to 2.9 per
cent, making it South Australia s
second-most marginal seat. Some
believe it s the most vulnerable
Coalition seat in the country and
psephologist Haydon Manning says
it will be a seat to watch on election
In 2007, celebrity Labor candidate
Nicole Cornes managed only a 2.4
per cent swing to the party -- the
smallest swing in any SA seat, with
a state-wide swing to Labor of 7 per
Mr Manning said if not for Ms
Cornes selection, Boothby could
now be a marginal Labor seat.
Mr Southcott disagrees. He s
proud of his achievements and
dismisses claims he has a low
profile not only in parliament, but
also in his electorate.
"There s always more you could
do," he said.
But less than a month out from
the election, Mr Southcott is look-
ing comfortable at a mid-morning
interview at Mitcham shopping
centre. He also looks comfortable
later that same day, having another
coffee at Marion shopping centre.
He s been Boothby s local
member for 14 years and says his
biggest achievements have been
"key roles" in the much-stalled
Marion Aquatic Centre and the
Flinders Cancer Centre.
Mr Southcott is ramping up his
campaign, doorknocking through-
out the electorate. But it appears to
be a different story if voters impose
on him. When he was approached
mid-interview by a questioning
constituent, Southcott replied: "Do
you mind. We are in the middle of
Former nurse Annabel Digance
is in the middle of her election
campaign. She s no celebrity
candidate, but Ms Digance, who quit
board positions with SA Water and
the Australian Central Credit Union
to become the Labor candidate, is
working to raise her profile. "Up
early, to bed late and speaking to as
many people as possible."
She spoke to The Independent
Weekly at 7am and explained she had
to give up her plan to speak to morn-
ing commuters at the Blackwood
train station. "I ll leave that one for
now," she said. "It s too wintry, but
we ll think of something else."
Ms Digance and Mr Southcott
agree on what s important in
Boothby: health, infrastructure,
small business and the Adelaide
Hills train line.
Both major parties are clamour-
ing to win favour. Ms Digance has
been seen with Prime Minister
Julia Gillard and ministers includ-
ing Penny Wong, Greg Combet,
Nicola Roxon and Tony Burke.
Opposition Leader Tony Abbott has
also made an appearance.
The Liberal and Labor candidates
probably hope associating with
high-profile colleagues will
influence voters. Mr Manning said
it was unlikely local issues or even
the local candidates would sway the
And despite Mr Southcott s
falling majority, Mr Manning said
unless Labor s campaign gets back
on track with a strong economic
message and Tony Abbott starts
faltering, Boothby is likely to stay
Liberal MP Jamie Briggs fought
tooth and nail for the Mayo pre-
selection in the 2008 by-election,
and seems to wish he had more
of a battle on his hands this time
Labor has fielded 19-year-old
Sam Davis, who doesn t live in the
electorate, but "just across the
"I m disappointed that they
don t take this area seriously,"
Mr Briggs told The Independent
"People have a right to be angry
about it. People deserve a choice --
that is what democracy is about."
Held by former foreign affairs
minister Alexander Downer from
its inception in 1984 until his
retirement, Mayo has been one
of the safest Liberal seats in the
country, hence the hotly-contested
scramble for pre-selection.
Mr Briggs, a former Howard
government staffer, beat eight
others, including current state
shadow treasurer Iain Evans, for
the right to stand, but suffered
almost a 10 per cent swing against
him in the eventual primary vote.
Without a Labor candidate in
the running, Mr Briggs clung to
the seat by 3 per cent over Greens
candidate Lynton Vonow.
"At least the Greens take the seat
seriously," Mr Briggs said.
Greens candidate Diane
Atkinson doubts her party will be
able to pull off the same feat again.
"People are freer in a by-election
and can vote for their candidate
of choice ... they aren t thinking
about who s going to govern the
country," she said.
"But having voted Greens once
and seeing we are active in the
electorate, people may well decide
to vote for us again."
Mr Davis insists he and his party
are taking the campaign for Mayo
seriously, although frontbencher
Nicola Roxon told media on a visit
to Adelaide that "even with the
best hope and intention, it is not a
seat the Labor Party really expects
However, Mr Davis said voters
were sick of being taken for
"Jamie Briggs was flown in to
contest the seat in the by-election.
The Liberals have seen us as a seat
for their own party people to be
promoted through," he said.
Alexander Downer held the seat
for 24 years. Getting his start two
years younger than Mr Downer, Mr
Briggs will have every chance to
surpass that mark if he chooses.
It may just take him that long to
be embraced as a local.
Storm clouds are gathering around the once-safe seat of Boothby, writes Melissa Mack.
Meanwhile, two rising stars hope to change the status quo in Hindmarsh and Mayo.
Jassmine Wood had a violent
welcome to federal politics.
The day the election was called,
she and a campaign volunteer were
assaulted as they handed out flyers
in the Hindmarsh electorate.
Although shocked and angry, the
Liberal candidate said the attack
did not dent her newly discovered
love of campaigning.
"[The assault] has made my sup-
porters and volunteers even more
committed and more determined to
win the seat," she said.
"If anything, all good things
have come out from it; the amount
of wonderful support from the
community ... and I ve shown the
people of Hindmarsh a certain level
of commitment. I was out again
the next day, in the same place, out
there showing I m still fighting for
the people of Hindmarsh."
A candidate in the state seat
of West Torrens in March, Ms
Wood achieved an 11.5 per cent
swing away from Labor s Tom
Koutsantonis and will need only
half that to knock out incumbent
Hindmarsh MP Steve Georganas.
"It s a tough slog, but a doable
thing. I m quite confident," she said.
The seat, which Labor holds
with a 5.1 per cent margin, is key
battleground for the Liberals, who
have been lucky to find a candidate
who puts doorknocking and super-
market tours on her list of favourite
things. She has already declared an
interest to run as a candidate again
if she fails this time.
But Mr Georganas is less than
impressed by the Liberal Party s
"I don t pay any attention to what
they do," he said.
"I have had street corner meet-
ings every Saturday for six years,
I ve doorknocked every Saturday for
six years, not just the past six weeks
"I don t get distracted by the
election ... my sole responsibility is
to the electorate. I have never taken
the seat for granted and I never
Mr Georganas, who has held
the seat for two terms, said he has
had "great wins" as the local MP
and cites the establishment of the
Airport Ombudsman, Glenelg-
Adelaide pipeline and Kings Street
Bridge funding among them.
As the federal electorate with
the second-highest proportion of
residents aged over 65, aged care is a
key issue -- along with health, water
If Labor retains the seat -- as
most observers predict -- Ms Wood
will move on to the next challenge,
and Mr Georganas will be found
on a street corner somewhere in
Hindmarsh every Saturday for the
next three years.
Annabel Digance is working to raise her profile.
Tough slog: Liberal candidate Jassmine
Photo: Kate Elmes
Wood gets more fight than she bargained for
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