PM RUDD VISIT: Bust head start is a miss

THE chance to take a good hard look at himself was passed up by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd yesterday.Mr Rudd had been expected to unveil a bronze bust of himself at the Prime Minister's Avenue in Ballarat's Botanic Gardens as part of his visit to Ballarat. The bust, which was sculpted by cartoonist Peter Nicholson, arrived atop a granite pedestal yesterday morning.It now sits alongside impressions of the 25 previous national leaders.It was thought Mr Rudd would make a stop at the site in between a federal cabinet meeting at the Ballarat Town Hall and last night's community cabinet at Ballarat High School.A spokeswoman for the Prime Minister's office said Mr Rudd's no-show at the gardens was a "timing thing"But about 60 protesters had gathered in the gardens near the Rudd likeness to protest proposed laws they said would restrict women's rights to have home-births. Mr Rudd's predecessor, John Howard, made a visit to Ballarat in 1997 for the unveiling of his bronze bust.