Billboard sign of political demise

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Unwanted sign: The election billboard in Aspendale of defeated premier Denis Napthine and former Mordialloc Liberal MP Lorraine Wreford. Picture: Gary Sissons

Unwanted sign: The election billboard in Aspendale of defeated premier Denis Napthine and former Mordialloc Liberal MP Lorraine Wreford. Picture: Gary Sissons

THE smiling faces of defeated state premier Denis Napthine and former Mordialloc MP Lorraine Wreford continue to stare out over Nepean Highway almost five months after last November’s election.

The two pollies’ faces are on a huge billboard in the front yard of a house on the corner of Parana St and Nepean Highway near the Bridge Hotel’s car park near the border of Aspendale and Mordialloc.

It reads: “Lorraine Wreford MP. Liberal for Mordialloc. Part of Denis Napthine’s team.”

Mordialloc’s one-term Liberal MP defeated Labor’s Janice Munt in 2010 as the Ted Baillieu-led Liberals rolled Labor MPs in the so-called sandbelt seats of Bentleigh, Mordialloc, Carrum and Frankston, crucial to winning government.

Ms Wreford was defeated by Labor’s Tim Richardson, a former staff member of federal Labor MP for Isaacs Mark Dreyfus, as voters swung back to Labor, which also won Bentleigh from Elizabeth Miller, Carrum from Donna Bauer and Frankston from rebel MP Geoff Shaw.

Ms Wreford has been trying unsuccessfully to get the billboard image removed by Adspace, the company with which she had a contract for just one month.

The billboard is controlled by Bentleigh Sign Group but managed by Adspace, a St Kilda Rd agency.

On Monday, Kylie Carmichael of Bentleigh Sign Group said the company would contact Adspace and ask for the sign to be removed. Adspace could not be reached for comment.

Ms Wreford had about 15 signs around the electorate in the lead-up to the election on 29 November but the one near the Bridge Hotel, which is angled toward the southbound lanes of the highway, was the biggest. Her contract with Adspace expired on 30 November.

She said staff members had phoned and written to Adspace asking for the sign to be removed.

As the weeks have ticked by, Ms Wreford has received more and more complaints including from chamber of commerce members, residents and Liberal Party people. Many people blame Ms Wreford but she said she had no control over when the sign would be removed.

“We paid for one month and now we’ve had five months. I was the first customer for this particular billboard; perhaps they haven’t got anything to replace it,” she said.

Several of Ms Wreford’s signs were daubed with graffiti during the campaign.

One enterprising local business, a high pressure cleaning services company, contacted Ms Wreford on Facebook and offered to remove the graffiti.

Vandals daubed signs of Ms Wreford as well as then Napthine government Arts Minister Heidi Victoria and candidate for Geelong Paula Kontelj. Liberal Party officials accused Labor of running a “dirty tricks” campaign. On one of the billboards, the word “Liberal” was crossed out and replaced with disparaging remarks.

Labor denied any knowledge of the daubings.

Graffiti on the Wreford sign has been cleaned off in recent weeks but the image remains, a daily reminder of the election loss for commuters travelling up the highway.

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