ASPIRING state and federal politicians could benefit from gaining some experience in local government first, according to a former federal MP. Ex-Braddon MHR Sid Sidebottom said he loved his time as a councillor at Central Coast. "I really believe local government is a great apprenticeship," Mr Sidebottom said. "I don't mean to use it cynically: we need good local government." Mr Sidebottom encouraged more people to stand. "Do it," he said. "Try not to be put off by the personality politics that are going on at the moment - being a politician can be very rewarding." Mr Sidebottom said people were frightened off by having a public profile. "If you become a headline you have either won Tattslotto or you've done something wrong or someone is having a pot (shot) at you," he said. "Most people are private and most public people I've met are private. I'm not blaming the media, that's just how it is. You become vulnerable when you become public. "The thing is it takes time to get your head around this game. It takes a term." Julia Gillard has more to say. "Julia's departure from politics could not have been done in a more dignified or intelligent manner and there's a hell of a lot more still to come in the future," Mr Sidebottom said. He is a big fan of Ms Gillard. He said she was undermined internally and had a campaign waged against her. Mr Sidebottom said he was critical of Ms Gillard personally over the advice she was taking on how she communicated. "Julia is one of the most decent people you would ever meet and clever. She should have just been herself more. "History will be kinder to Julia as PM." There are regrets Being jobless has also given him the chance to catch up on family time. "I'm really looking forward to our two boys coming home for Christmas," Mr Sidebottom said. "My wife and sons have been very supportive of me and never made a drama or fuss. "But I felt very guilty about not always being there; and I always felt I didn't see a lot of the things my boys were doing." Mr Sidebottom once spoke of what Father's Day meant and analysed the songs Father and Son and Cats in the Cradle. In the speech he apologised if he wasn't there for his sons and thanked his own father who sadly died before he had received a copy of his son's poignant words of appreciation.