Voters in SA marginal federal election seat of Boothby concerned about congestion, climate change and jobs

The Shri Ganesha Temple in Oaklands Park sits in the heart of Boothby, South Australia’s only marginal electorate.

Thousands of Hindu worshippers from across Adelaide travel to the sacred site for prayer time each day.

Sunjay Raje has been visiting the temple since he emigrated from India in 2005; he now lives just five minutes away in Seacombe Gardens.

Since Mr Raje moved into the area, the streets and suburbs around the temple have changed.

“I can see a lot of developments here — old houses are demolished, one house was there, they are making two or three houses — naturally, a lot of people are added into the area,” Mr Raje said.

Urban infill and traffic congestion are two major election issues in Boothby.

That is why Mr Raje would like to see a change in government.

After years of voting Liberal, this time he’s throwing his support behind Labor.

That mood could see the historically blue-ribbon electorate turn red after May 21.

A woman and a man standing inside
Seacombe Gardens residents Sanjay Raje and Madhuri Raje are concerned about traffic congestion.(ABC News: Sarah Mullins)

Diverse electorate in wealth and views

The Liberals have held Boothby since 1949, out of reach from Labor for 73 years.

But with a margin of just 1.4 per cent, the polls have Labor’s Louse Miller-Frost ahead of Liberal candidate Rachel Swift, who is trying to replace the departing Liberal MP Nicolle Flint.

The diverse electorate situated in Adelaide’s southern suburbs stretches from the sea, across the plains and into the Adelaide Hills.

There are beachfront mansions wrapping around the coast of Glenelg and Brighton, with working class and migrant families scattered throughout Marion, Park Holme and Edwardstown.

A map of Adelaide
The electorate of Boothby covers Adelaide’s south-west and inner-south.(Australian Electoral Commission)

In the foothills, there are wealthy estates and mostly Liberal voters situated through Springfield, Torrens Park and Mitcham, bordering with a Greens voting patch in Belair and Blackwood.

For mother-of-three Josephine Gaskell, climate change will be a top priority when she casts her ballot on Saturday.

The Greens voter, who lives in Belair, is fed up with what she sees as a lack of action and urgency.

“We would like to see a government that actually takes it seriously and acknowledges science,” she said.

“I just get really frustrated with the parties arguing with each other all the time and not actually acting.

“We need to act now — not in 10 years or 20 years — now.”

A man and a woman wearing winter clothes in a park
Belair residents Josephine Gaskell and James Curry want to see the next government address climate change and education funding.(ABC News: Sarah Mullins)

Refugees voting Liberal in first election

Down the hill at Brighton beach, the Aroushian family are out for a morning walk before work.

Harry and Talin Aroushian are voting in a federal election for the first time this year after fleeing war-torn Syria in 2016.

The refugees’ top priority is job security after struggling to find work for several years after arriving in Australia.

“I tried to apply for a job — I applied for many — and now finally I got the job two months ago,” Ms Aroushian said.

A man and a woman holding a child in front of a beach
Harry and Talin Aroushian with their daughter Pardy at Brighton beach.(ABC News: Sarah Mullins)

They also want a share in the Australian dream, with the goal of one day owning their own home.

“We want to stop the rent and are looking to buy a house, and now the house prices are increasing and it’s incredible prices,” she said.

The pair are throwing their support behind Ms Swift, casting their ballots for the Liberal Party in their first-ever vote.

Unsure but concerned about housing

For others, the decision is difficult, and many will make their mind up on polling day.

Grandmother Robyn Cavallaro has lived in Boothby since she was two years old.

“It’s going to be right down to the day — how I feel on the day — I really have not made up my mind,” she said.

“I just don’t know; I am not impressed by either of the leaders.

“I am waiting for them to tell me what they are going to do.”

An elderly woman wearing sunglasses while holding a child at a jetty
Marion woman Robyn Cavallaro with her granddaughter, Chloe.(ABC News: Sarah Mullins)

Ms Cavallaro lives in Marion, one of the many suburbs in Boothby that has experienced significant change in recent years as population growth has accelerated.

Whomever Ms Cavallaro decides to vote for on May 21, infill and housing will be front of mind.

“We moved into our house 46 years ago and it was a vineyard,” she said.

“But over that 46 years, we have seen so much infilling, which really worries us as older residents.”

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