16 May 2003

The governor-general is on administrative leave, long live the governor-general
From Howard's interview with Ray Martin:


Do you think that he's had a fair go, that the public debate has been fair?


Some aspects of the public debate have been very unfair. Some people appear to pick on him quite unnecessarily, I mean he was attacked for not going to Bali within the first few days of that tragedy. He really couldn't, decisions had to be made and the person who had to go to Bali was the Prime Minister and he had commitments in another part of the world which were important in celebrating a battle 60 years ago in which Australia had been involved and I think that was very unfair. He obviously made a big error of judgment in relation to that case in Queensland, he knows that. But beyond that I really don't want to get into further discussion. He stood aside, the administrator, Sir Guy Green, is being sworn in tomorrow morning, I called on him as a matter of courtesy at Government House this afternoon, life goes on, he'll be picking up Dr Hollingworth's programme and the show goes on.

1. If Hollingworth did make a 'big error of judgment' (Howard's own words) then what is the problem with the church inquiry that found Hollingworth made a 'serious error of judgment'?

2. If we should be spending $60 million on children's services instead of a federal inquiry into child abuse why is that Howard's own budget, like its predecessors, kept such low federal outlays for children's services? Where is the $60 million?

3. I am glad that the prime minister now believes in fair public debate. All he needs to do to prove his conversion is tell us just a little more about the children in the water in the Truth Overboard incident.

4. Is this issue about to become a wedgie for the master of wedge politics?

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