Opinion polls show former prime minister Kevin Rudd is still a favourite with the Australian public.
Opinion polls show former prime minister Kevin Rudd is still a favourite with the Australian public. Blainey Woodham

It's time to get on with it

EVEN before the contenders fronted the cameras yesterday morning, Northern Rivers residents were reacting to Prime Minister Julia Gillard's whopping 71-31 defeat of former prime minister Kevin Rudd.

And they weren't happy.

"Bring back the Kevinator," wrote Sue Sheehan on The Northern Star's Facebook page. "He is the one the public voted for in the election, not the Ranga!!"

Or this one from London by Lismore lad Darren Lickiss: "Rudd listened to the people, Gillard doesn't. Abbott isn't much better, but, he at least has guts, unlike Gillard."

The comments came in a surreal environment, where Mr Rudd had been comprehensively beaten in a vote of the Labor caucus despite opinion polls saying he is significantly more popular than both Ms Gillard and Opposition leader Tony Abbott.

However, speaking after the Caucus vote, Page MP Janelle Saffin pointed out Australia's political system did not put the choice of leader directly in the hands of voters.

"I know people may be disappointed, as like me, we all get to love our leaders. I know some would like to directly vote for leaders but we don't. It is not our law or tradition. The party that secures government does so," Ms Saffin said in a statement.

Ms Saffin was one of Mr Rudd's more prominent backers and, along with Richmond MP Justine Elliot, spoke out in favour of him last week and escorted him to and from yesterday's caucus meeting.

"As Prime Minister, Kevin did Australia proud and is widely recognised as being right up there with the best. I want to say that he has left us a great legacy - leading us through the global financial crisis, the Apology, the pension increases, paid maternity leave and more."

However, Ms Saffin also said it was time to move on.

"I have worked in the past with both Kevin Rudd and Julia Gillard as Labor prime ministers, and have done so to the benefit of the Page electorate. Both have been good friends to our electorate and this relationship will continue," she said.

"The ALP is the best vehicle to achieve fairness and justice in society and I'll continue to represent the people of Page in an effective, strong and independent way."

High-profile local Labor figures, Lismore branch president and councillor Isaac Smith and Lismore Mayor Jenny Dowell, said it was time for the government to get on with governing.

"People fell on both sides (for Mr Rudd and Ms Gillard) but the main thing people do want is ... to get on with it," Mr Smith said.

"Move on and get past it."



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