On Wednesday October 5 Tony Abbott attended a 'community forum' at the Capital Theatre in Bendigo (See Report in Bendigo Advertiser - Bendigo forum a chance for some sticky questions). Attendance was by a selected audience of about 190 who attended by invite only. Unfortunately the 'community forum' was neither representative of the community nor very open. About 100 people, mainly younger families with children, were not allowed to enter and had to make do holding up a few placards outside the hall. (See Report in Bendigo Advertiser - Abbott gives Bendigo party the slip).
Tony Abbott, cheered by the largely elderly audience inside the hall, was driven around to enter and leave the event from a backdoor. His minders were too afraid for him to confront people who disagree with his policies on tackling climate change.
The Bendigo Advertiser lambasted the actions of the Liberal Leader and the forum in it's editorial - Leaders should be open to hear from all public:
"The Liberal Party is not alone in this tactic of avoiding people from the opposite side of a political issue. It is something that the two major parties are guilty of and for which they should be equally ashamed. The Opposition Leader was hosting a community forum, which was a community forum in name only."
"... Sure there were token representatives from sustainability groups but the bulk of the audience was elderly, unlike the majority of protesters outside. A genuine community forum would have opened the doors for anyone interested to attend. Surely if someone wants to lead the nation, Liberal or Labor, they should be open to hearing from all sides and not just those their party chooses to invite."
Read a First hand report on the 'community forum' in Bendigo at 100percent.org.au - Bendigo rally shows up Abbott's Direct (lack of) Action Plan