Bill Shorten’s town hall meeting gets feisty

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Booze and town hall meetings might not be the best combination, as Bill Shorten discovered in southeast Queensland. A minor brouhaha broke out as the opposition leader fielded questions from the public at the Caboolture RSL Club, which has a sign out the front saying: “Great food, great fun and great times.”

Labor supporter Pauline Freeman from Bribie Island stood up to ask a long rambling question.

During a three-minute spiel she canvassed underpaid supermarket trolley boys, obesity, Bob Hawke Medicare tea-towels, stuff she had researched on Facebook and the fact she hadn’t done her washing and laundry for five weeks.

Members of the audience groaned as she continued talking.

Despite wearing a red Labor T-shirt, confusingly, she accused Mr Shorten of lying about his claim the federal government plans to privatise Medicare.

“Why are you lying?” she yelled at Mr Shorten while a Labor Party staffer tried to wrestle the microphone off her.

Another later gave her a policy propaganda booklet.

Ainon Thomas from Elimbah stood up and shouted Ms Freeman down, waving her arms around wildly from across the room.

Ms Thomas later told AAP she was frustrated time was wasted because she had her heart set on asking Mr Shorten whether he would change laws to make it easier for Australian couples to adopt children from overseas.

She was teary when she got a chance to speak with him afterwards.

Caboolture is in the Liberal seat of Longman held by baby-faced MP Wyatt Roy, which Labor thinks could be vulnerable this election.

Labor’s candidate Susan Lamb is a former teacher’s aide and her eldest son Chris is the same age as 26-year-old Mr Roy.

She talked up her “life experience” as a mother-of-four over the incumbent who she claimed was more interested in being a celebrity than the local community.

Mr Shorten’s wife Chloe was in the audience of about 230 people, mostly made up of Labor supporters, baby boomers and seniors.

The Queensland leader of the Veterans Party Jeremy Davey, a former navy sailor, snuck in a question about Labor’s plans to help veterans and cut the suicide rate of returned service personnel.

He admitted to gatecrashing Mr Shorten’s Christmas Party drinks with the Canberra Press Gallery in 2014, by posing as a reporter.

Mr Shorten responded that he thought suicide was a hidden problem in the community.

Longman incidentally had the third highest suicide rate of 28 electorates analysed between 2009-12.

A woman named Janet asked Mr Shorten for his thoughts on the “ride-sharing” phenomenon.

He replied that it would be impossible to outlaw concepts like Uber but hinted Labor was looking at ways to regulate, such as collecting GST and ensuring health and safety standards.

Mr Shorten was given a hand-written letter by 11-year-old Domenic Barrett, who wants to be a Queensland Labor premier when he grows up and has previously wagged school to watch state parliament in action.

It was Mr Shorten’s 32nd town hall meeting since August.

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