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Election 2007: candidates campaign for the seat of Boothby in South Australia.

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Thur sday 8 November 2007

Election 2007: candidates campaign for the seat of Boothby in South Australia


MARK COLVIN: The electorate of Boothby in Adelaide's southern suburbs has been held by the Liberal Party for nearly 60 years. It has long been considered one of the party's safest seats. 


But the polls in Adelaide have been so bad for the Howard government that the Liberals are now putting far more resources into defending Boothby than they have in the past. 


But the Labor Party may not manage to capitalise on voter sentiment in this seat because of the poor performance of its celebrity candidate, Nicole Cornes. 


Nance Haxton prepared this report in Boothby. 


(Sounds of dogs barking) 


ANN VON BUJDOSS: Now stay back guys. Now Minnie, hop down, come here. Naughty girl. Come on I have to get the coffee. 


NANCE HAXTON: Ann and Zoltan von Bujdoss consider themselves a typical empty-nester couple in the electorate of Boothby, the seat which extends from Adelaide's affluent seaside suburbs to the hills in the city's south. 


The high school teacher and graphic artist have two grown-up children, two grandchildren, and two playful dogs that keep them busy. 


They're certain of who they'll vote for in the election. 


ZOLTAN VON BUJDOSS: We'll, basically, the only reason I am voting Labor is my desire to unseat the Federal Liberal Government. 


ANN VON BUJDOSS: I just want to see John Howard unseated. I think we have had 11 years of going backwards. I mean, just take the Iraq war. That's enough to turn my vote. 


NANCE HAXTON: They say while they are somewhat bemused by the Labor candidate Nicole Cornes, local concerns are not influencing their vote. 


ZOLTAN VON BUJDOSS: Absolutely no reason she won't turn into a very good member. 


ANN VON BUJDOSS: Absolutely and so are most of the people I talk to at the moment. I think people have just had enough. 


NANCE HAXTON: While national polls are showing swings towards Labor, local polling has so far indicated that is not reflected in Boothby. 


From her first appearance as the Labor candidate, the high profile wife of renowned footballer and inaugural Adelaide Crows Coach Graham Cornes, has been given an unenviable national media profile for everything from her lack of knowledge of Labor policy to admitting she once voted for John Howard. 


Yet Nicole Cornes' appearance at the local Brighton Secondary School generated the kind of crowd response most political candidates only dream of. 


NICOLE CORNES: I think community issues are very important and the more I have moved around in the electorate with the families of Boothby, I have realised there is a real sense of need for community support and community values to come back. 


NANCE HAXTON: And how has the campaign trail been going? 


NICOLE CORNES: Very, very well. It is just hard work. Very hard work. But, um, I am just out there every day doing my best. And to me the job is about getting it back out into the community and speaking to the members of the community and hearing their concerns. 


NANCE HAXTON: She says recent criticism of her campaigning style by many media outlets doesn't concern her. 


NICOLE CORNES: Everyone has a job to do. I'm going to do my job, the media will do their job. It's about doing your job. 


And I'm just head down, getting out there and working really hard to make sure that I can bring the best results for Boothby. I would not change anything for the world. 


NANCE HAXTON: Political analyst Dr Clem McIntyre from the University of Adelaide recently hosted a community forum for all Boothby candidates. 


He says Nicole Cornes could prove to be the dark horse in the election race. 


CLEM MCINTYRE: Some will, I think, still be cautious about voting for somebody who doesn't have a long track record in the Labor Party and that may alienate some voters. 


Others, I think, will be looking at her almost in with curiosity value. But I think that's probably less than 10 per cent of the voters. The vast majority of voters will be as they cast their vote really making decision between John Howard and Kevin Rudd. 


NANCE HAXTON: But Nicole Cornes' performance has worried traditional Labor voters such as Samantha, a social work student who works as a retail assistant to help pay the bills. 


SAMANTHA: I want to vote Labor but I would find it very embarrassing if she was our representative in our, yeah, in our area. So that is affecting my vote so I guess. 


NANCE HAXTON: Is that part of the reason you're undecided, do you think?  


SAMANTHA: Yes. Because I've seen bits of what she's said and haven't been very impressed. 


NANCE HAXTON: And she's not the only one.  


Helen is an assistant for an Adelaide publisher who has just moved into Boothby with her husband. 


HELEN: I want the Howard government out. It's a disappointment really there isn't a stronger Labor candidate to go up against Southcott. I feel like I'm going to be throwing my vote away for a few years while I live there. 


NANCE HAXTON: Liberal MP Andrew Southcott is seeking his fifth successive term as the member for Boothby, and is sitting on a comfortable 5.4 per cent margin. 


He's relying on grassroots campaigning to try and ensure he's voted back in. 


ANDREW SOUTHCOTT: Nice to see you. Can I just give you some information from me? Just a bit about what we are doing so pensioners and self funded retirees. 


NANCE HAXTON: He says he's focused on local issues, and not on who he is up against in the election this time around. 


ANDREW SOUTHCOTT: I've doorknocked 9,000 homes with my team since September 2004. I am out at railway stations and I have conducted listening posts at shopping centres since 1996.  


NANCE HAXTON: So you have been in four terms now. Do you consider it a safe seat? 


ANDREW SOUTHCOTT: No, not at all. And I've never considered it a safe seat. Every election is tough, every election is tightly fought. And so I've never ever regarded it as a safe seat. 


NANCE HAXTON: Mr Southcott says the main issue of concern that's come up over and over again in his doorknocking is water. 


ANDREW SOUTHCOTT: The security of Adelaide's water supply is one of my top priorities and everyone is concerned about it.  


We've done a petition on water and we've had over 5,000 responses. 


NANCE HAXTON: Water might be one of the biggest concerns for the people of Boothby, but for now, all eyes are on Nicole Cornes and whether she can turn around Labor's fortunes in what has traditionally been one of the Liberal Party's safest seats. 


MARK COLVIN: Nance Haxton.