Billboard dilemma for McNeven

BILLBOARDS that feature ousted Prime Minister Kevin Rudd and ALP candidate for Hinkler Belinda McNeven face an uncertain future despite popping up in the region in just the past few weeks.

“We will look at what we do with the billboards over the next couple of days,” Ms McNeven said.

“It’s a bit like hanging out your washing, and you get to the sheets and the towels and it starts to rain.”

Ms McNeven was left with the now-outdated billboards after Mr Rudd was pushed out by Julia Gillard during a caucus meeting yesterday morning.

Ms McNeven said she was not sure how much it had cost to buy the advertising space on the signs.

The ALP candidate said she was surprised when she heard about the leadership challenge late on Wednesday night but did not think it would change the focus of issues in the region.

“I was very pleased to have a prime minister who was obviously interested in Hinkler,” she said.

“But in her role as deputy prime minister, Julia Gillard has already shown her interest in the area with a visit at the end of last month.”

Ms McNeven said it was a positive move to have a female reach the top office in the nation.

Not everyone agreed with Ms McNeven’s sentiment.

In an online poll conducted by the NewsMail, just 46% of almost 1000 respondents were happy with the change in leadership while 53% preferred the leadership of Kevin Rudd.

Member for Hinkler Paul Neville warned in a statement yesterday that the change of leadership did not mean a change in policy.

“For the first time in our history we’ve seen an elected prime minister dumped by his own party in his first term. It is an astounding turn of events,” he said.

“We’ve now got a prime minister handpicked by union bosses, not by the people of Australia.”

Mr Neville said people should remember that Ms Gillard presided over the Building an Education Revolution program, which he said wasted about $8 billion.

Greens candidate Adrian Wone believes there are shadowy forces controlling Ms Gillard.

He said his suspicions were awakened when former Queensland premier Peter Beattie gave up his job as the state’s trade and investment commissioner in Los Angeles.

“He’s part of the power behind this,” Mr Wone said.

“He’s the man who wins miracle elections. And the unions control her.”

But Mr Wone conceded Ms Gillard may be a better prime minister than Mr Rudd.

He said he did not believe the leadership change would affect the way the election would go in Hinkler.

“It’s the same party but with a different leader.”

Independent candidate Cy d’Oliveira said he did not believe Ms Gillard would support Hinkler Labor candidate Belinda McNeven the way Mr Rudd would have.

“Hinkler is not going to get so many big guns coming up here,” he said.

Bundaberg Mayor Lorraine Pyefinch said she had been surprised at the quick change in leadership, especially because, at a recent workshop in Canberra, party and media insiders had been dismissive of a spill.

Cr Pyefinch said she had always been impressed with Mr Rudd when he had been in the region, and found him to be personable and generous.

But she also said she thought it was positive the country had a woman prime minister for the first time.

“I think it’s ironic that in the Year of Women in Local Government, we’ve just had a woman become the prime minister,” she said.

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