Julia Gillard hosts community cabinet in Boothby

More than 60 animal-rights protesters waited for Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard at The Hub Recreation Centre at Aberfoyle Park. Picture: Morne de Klerk
More than 60 animal-rights protesters waited for Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard at The Hub Recreation Centre at Aberfoyle Park. Picture: Morne de Klerk
A community member asks a question to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard inside the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

A community member asks a question to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard inside the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard enters the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard enters the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaks at a community cabinet meeting inside the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaks at a community cabinet meeting inside the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard enters the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard enters the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

A community member asks a question to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard inside the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

A community member asks a question to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard inside the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard listens to a question from the audience inside the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard listens to a question from the audience inside the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard stands at the lectern inside the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard stands at the lectern inside the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard with local mum Belinda Pfeiffer and son Angus, 3-months. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard with local mum Belinda Pfeiffer and son Angus, 3-months. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

  A community member asks a question to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard inside the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre during the Boothby community cabinet meeting. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

A community member asks a question to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard inside the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre during the Boothby community cabinet meeting. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

 More than 60 animal-rights protesters waited for Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard at The Hub Recreation Centre at Aberfoyle Park. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

More than 60 animal-rights protesters waited for Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard at The Hub Recreation Centre at Aberfoyle Park. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaks at a community cabinet meeting inside the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaks at a community cabinet meeting inside the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaks at a community cabinet meeting inside the community hall at The Hub Recreation. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaks at a community cabinet meeting inside the community hall at The Hub Recreation. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaks inside the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard speaks inside the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard leaves the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre after taking part in a community cabinet meeting. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard leaves the community hall at The Hub Recreation Centre after taking part in a community cabinet meeting. Picture: Morne de Klerk.

The government's asylum seeker policy, education, live exports and mental health were among the key issues raised to Prime Minister Gillard by speakers at Wednesday night's community cabinet.

Julia Gillard was joined by her ministry to answer the questions of a 400-strong crowd at Aberfoyle Park High School hall.

Held in the marginal seat of Boothby, currently held by Liberal MP Andrew Southcott, it was also used as an opportunity to profile Labor candidate Annabel Digance to constituents.

Ms Digance was seen smiling and chatting to the public ahead of the public question session.

Ms Gillard and her party may have received a warm welcome at Boothby but a Fairfax poll of rural and regional Australians tells a different story.

Less than 30 per cent of those who participated said they would vote for Labor at the September election and 62 per said her performance as PM had been poor or very poor.

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Click to see the poll results

After a brief introduction from Ms Gillard about her fond memories of growing up in the electorate of Boothby, currently held by the slender margin of 2.18 per cent by Liberal MP Andrew Southcott, she and her ministers faced a range of questions from the community.

During the public question time, a group of more than 60 animal-rights protesters could be clearly heard from outside, as they called for an end to live animal exports.

One Year 12 student asked Ms Gillard when the government would find a solution to refugees arriving by boat.

Ms Gillard responded by saying: “We want to say to refugees and asylum seekers that Australia is a country that is prepared to extend its compassion and places to people who are genuine refugees.” 

She warned people to not pay people smugglers and face the risk of drowning at sea.

The Prime Minister also managed to squeeze in a few jokes throughout the night, responding to Year 12 student Paris, who asked Ms Gillard a question for a school assignment, with “should I be answering this or should you?”

Although the community of Boothby seemed satisfied their voices were heard, Happy Valley resident Mark Stevens said he would have liked to have heard more local issues raised.

After an hour of questions from the public, Ms Gillard and her ministers left to a standing ovation from the community.

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The visit came at a tumultuous time for the PM.

On Tuesday, Greens leader Christine Milne ended the Greens-Labor alliance which helped prop Labor into government at the last election.

She said ''the Greens will not add to the instability that Labor creates every day for itself'' by refusing confidence and supply prior to the election.

Why Boothby? 

The electorate of Boothby, in the south of Adelaide, has traditionally been regarded as a safe seat for the Liberal Party. 

However, since the 2007 federal election it has become increasingly marginal and is currently held by the slender margin of 2.18 per cent by Liberal MP Andrew Southcott. 

Mr Southcott has held the seat since 1996. 

In the 2007 election, the seat of Boothby gained national prominence when the Labor party pre-selected former newspaper columnist Nicole Cornes. Even though her bid for for the seat was unsuccessful it saw Mr Southcott's margin decrease to 53 per cent. 

The seat of Boothby includes the main suburbs of Aberfoyle Park, Belair, Blackwood, Brighton, Daw Park, Eden Hills, Flagstaff Hill, Marion, Mitcham, Seacliff, St Marys and Panorama.