2 January 2004

Anderson prepared to get hands dirty

DEPUTY Prime Minister John Anderson, who slipped quietly into the top job yesterday, will divide his time over the next few days between running the country and cleaning out the cattle troughs on the family property at Gunnedah in northern NSW.

The National Party leader will be acting Prime Minister until January 25, while John Howard takes time off to watch the Sydney Test match, play the occasional round of golf and catch up on some reading.

Mr Anderson also plans some time at his family's beach hideaway on the NSW north coast - but he will take work with him and take the opportunity to campaign in marginal National Party seats.

You have to love January, when life's a beach and the seat of government moves to somewhere outside Gunnedah, the koala capital of the planet. In the 1970s Doug Anthony used to announce he was running the country by flying an Australian flag from his caravan and go surfing between looking after the affairs of state.

I've been fiddling with iCal lately and I'm putting together a calendar for election days and parliamentary sittings. There's no fixed date for the federal election, but it must be within 3 years of the first meeting of each House of Representatives. This House was elected on 10 November 2001 and first met on 12 February 2002. While that makes 12 May 2005 the last date the Man of Steel will almost certainly go to the country before the end of this year. Leaving it until next May might look too much like the Man of Steel is scared of Iron Mark.

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