Editor Mat Nott
Editor Mat Nott

Patio beckons for an old warhorse

Out on the patio we'd sit,

And the humidity we'd breathe,

We'd watch the lightning crack over canefields

Laugh and think that this is Australia.

THESE magical words that capture the atmosphere of the cane country and the irreverence of Australia were penned on the veranda of Paul Neville's home in Bundaberg.

He didn't own it at the time the band Ganggajang wrote the song Sounds of Then, but his decision to retire will let him spend more time on the same patio if he chooses to.

Political parties don't do succession planning well. Brutus provided the default template when he helped to knife Caesar.Two thousand years later, Gillard showed the blueprint was still workable when she despatched Rudd.

In stepping aside, Neville has acted with the dignity and wisdom that all who know him consider to be integral parts of his character.

He is a battler and Hinkler has never been an easy seat to hold, but hold it he has for almost 20 years, sometimes by the skin of his teeth.

If he had wanted to dig his heels in this time, he probably could have run unchallenged for another term.

Some potential challengers from Liberal and National camps indicated they would not be candidates if Neville indicated he was prepared to stand.

This may be, but it is a fact that the phones were being worked before Neville met with party officials in Brisbane on Monday. They were running hot by the time he declared yesterday that he would not contest the next election.

Any potential challenge was defused by Neville recognising that it was time for the baton to be passed.

It must have been a hard thing to do.

What a temptation it would have been to fall into Howard think and delude yourself that "nobody can possibly do it as well as me".

Hinkler now has to say goodbye to a wise soul who had bipartisan respect in an increasingly sour political world.

Does Hervey Bay have any quality candidates capable of pulling the political seat of power in the electorate further south? The answer is yes.

We are set for a bell ringer of a pre-selection battle.

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