Former foe leads tributes to one of Bundy's greats
BUNDABERG has lost one of its greats, a man who has been described as a true gentleman with a wicked sense of humour.
Former Member for Hinkler Paul Christopher Neville, 78, died at Bundaberg Hospital early yesterday.
Mr Neville was the Member for Hinkler from 1993-2013, making him one of the longest-serving parliamentarians in the Wide Bay.
Close friends said Mr Neville had been suffering with health problems for some time.
"Anyone who can hold the seat (of Hinkler) for that amount of time has considerable political acumen," said Brian Courtice, the Labor politician who Mr Neville replaced as Member for Hinkler before they went on to later form a close friendship.
"My sympathies are with Paul's wife, Margaret, and his family.
"If he played rugby league he would never have been sin-binned. He was an honest broker."
"He achieved so much ... he had his finger on the pulse and he understood politics."
Member for Wide Bay Llew O'Brien said Mr Neville was "a man of integrity, a great family man, incredibly community minded and a loyal friend".
"He served his electorate and our nation with distinction," Mr O'Brien said.
Mr Neville and wife Margaret had five children, including two sets of twins: Gaye and Gavin, Sally-Anne, and Paul and Peter.
The couple celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary in October.
Mr Neville was born in Warwick in 1940 and had a varied life before entering politics.
He was the manager of both the Moncrieff Theatre (at the time the Crest Cinema) and the Bundaberg District Tourism and Development Board.
The Olympia Theatre, as it was at the time, was closed for renovations in 1973 before reopening later that year as the Crest with Mr Neville in charge until 1981.
Throughout his political career Mr Neville was involved in a variety of parliamentary committees and chaired several including Transport and Regional Services from 2002-2007.
At 72 years of age and after 20 years in parliament, Mr Neville announced in October 2012 he would not recontest his seat at the 2013 election.
He won every booth in Hinkler at the 2010 poll and built up a 10.4 per cent majority for his successor, current MP Keith Pitt.
"Paul was a true gentleman and was known widely as a local champion, which is something those of us in politics should all aspire to be," Mr Pitt said.
At the time of his exit from politics, Mr Neville said he had derived his greatest satisfaction from talking and listening to the people of his electorate.
Mayor Jack Dempsey said Mr Neville was the complete family man who carried those values across in making a career out of working and delivering for his community.
"To hold a position as the region's political representative in the Federal Parliament for 20 years speaks volumes for the respect in which he was held as well as the job he did on behalf of the electorate," Cr Dempsey said.
"Paul was a catalyst for the promotion of Bundaberg and district initially through his years on the local Development Board, a passion he pursued throughout his many years in politics."
Major infrastructure projects including the highway redesign at Apple Tree Creek, the Tim Fischer Bridge near Wallaville and the Hinkler Hall of Aviation stand among the many regional projects delivered through Paul's advocacy.
"Even in retirement Paul put his years of experience to work and was part of council's Australia Day Awards selection committee," Cr Dempsey said.
"The community has lost a genuine champion while many of us have lost a dear friend. His companionship, his counsel and his good humour will be sorely missed."
Long-time family friend and former staffer Cathy Heidrich said she was fortunate to spend an hour with Mr Neville in hospital on New Year's Eve.
"Paul Neville cherished his family, loved his God and thrived on his politics," Mrs Heidrich said.
"His loyalty to his family, friends and beliefs - both personal and political - were beyond reproach.
Mrs Heidrich said he was a true gentleman and generous with jokes and compliments.
"Much of his hard work as a politician and his personal representations on behalf of constituents went unheralded."