Julia Gillard didn’t put Altona on the map: that honour, as independent Hobsons Bay councillor Angela Altair reminds Crikey, goes to two former premiers “and a brace of state and federal cabinet ministers past and present”. And nor will her new role push up housing prices.

“We’re used to bragging rights in Hobsons Bay,” Altair said, excited by Gillard’s promotion.

“As Germaine Greer wrote and echoed the sisterhood: Go Julia! But I also agree that we shouldn’t give a damn what set of chromosomes a PM might have: it may be a bit old-fashioned but for me it’s the policies.”

Much has been made of Gillard’s neighbourhood, the, errr, industrial-chic outer-Melbourne suburb that the PM has made it know she is not leaving until she is elected by the Australian people. The Hobsons Bay Leader describes Gillard’s house as a “humble” on a “sleepy street”.

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But as proud as some residents are to share the prime ministerial neighbourhood, they shouldn’t expect a bump in their property values.

“I expect the prime minister’s private residence means Altona will have a greater profile nationally, but I don’t expect it will influence house prices significantly,” said deputy mayor Tony Briffa.

“House prices are already higher here than in most Melbourne western suburbs because we enjoy a beautiful beach … good access to the city, and have a friendly local community.”

The spotlight on the house is part of what could be termed the “politico effect”. Earlier this month, Barack Obama’s former New York apartment gained international coverage when it went up for sale.

But the impact can work both ways. When former One Nation leader Pauline Hanson’s house was offered for sale in Queensland, she made it clear she had no intention of selling it to a “Muslim”. The move stretched the phrase that “any publicity is good publicity”.

Director of the Land Value Research Group Gavin Putland is also erring on the side of caution and says security and not house prices in Altona will change.

“I can only suggest that because of the PM’s presence, the federal government is likely to take a heightened interest in security,” he said.

Peter Fray

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