Not content with ignoring the Kyoto Protocol on global warming or the UN Security Council over Iraq, JH decided to disparage a ruling of the International Rugby Board over the singing of "Waltzing Matilda" before Australia's Rugby World Cup games.
The IRB made a decision in August that only national anthems and performances such as the haka could be performed before the start of matches in the World Cup. While the haka was considered to be of "cultural significance", Waltzing Matilda was rejected because the IRB deemed the emotional Australian ditty about a suicidal sheep stealer not to be culturally significant.
An absurd ruling in most people's eyes, but a ruling nonetheless (which they later clarified to say that it could be sung in the stadia after all, but only before the Wallabies come out onto the field). JH's attitude to the authority of the IRB?
In a doorstop interview at Parliament House on 28 August 2003, JH had the following to say:
Mr Howard, what do you make of the moves to ban Waltzing Matilda from the Rugby World Cup matches?
I think it's very silly. I resent it. Waltzing Matilda is deeply evocative of Australian culture and how can you justify trying to ban the singing of it and allow other presentations which are evocative of the culture of other countries? But in any event, I pose the question - how are they going to stop it being sung? You try and stop 82,000 Australians singing Waltzing Matilda - you'll only make their night.
So you'll encourage people to sing the song if it is banned?
Of course I will. I think it's ridiculous and I'm sure they'll rethink their decision, if they've made the decision.
The board meets on Monday but they are arguing that they don't think it has much cultural significance.
Nations determine their culture not other people. Thank you.
JH's defiance of international authority reappeared in a radio interview with former speechwriter for Malcolm Fraser, former Wallabies coach, and present-day Parrot, A.B.Jones, on 2GB on September 15:
Just before you go, is the PM likely to be leading a cause, singing Waltzing Matilda when the Wallabies play?
Try and stop us.
Try and stop us – is that the word?
Try and stop us. I mean this is just ridiculous. I can’t believe this. I really cannot believe that grown men, I think all in this case – I’d better be careful, would be so foolish.
But Australians being what they are, it most probably only encourages them to defy it.
People will… I mean I am going to start, I think I’ll start a campaign to encourage every single Australian to learn all the verses.
That’s it. Join 2GB and News Ltd. That’s what we’re doing. Put the Prime Minister head of a campaign.
I think you ought to play it at the beginning… they ought to run it on the front page so we know, everybody knows every darn word of it.
And on the day of the opening ceremony of the Rugby World Cup, October 10, in a radio interview with ABC Perth's Liam Bartlett:
BARTLETT:...will you be singing Waltzing Matilda?
PRIME MINISTER:I certainly will be with great gusto and great enthusiasm and I would imagine that 82,000 other people, more most of them, I guess we’ve got a few visitors from overseas who may not know the words, but I certainly will sing it yes.
BARTLETT:I don't think that ruling from the International Rugby Board is going to carry much weight.
PRIME MINISTER:No. No offence meant
No offence of course, just total contempt for the authority of an international governing body. (By the way, What the IRB should have done is permitted the singing of Waltzing Matilda, but banned John Williamson from taking part.