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Never let an international incident stop Johnny's day at the cricket

Submitted by rickeyre on November 29, 2005 - 12:38pm

JANE HUTCHEON [ABC radio]: Am I correct in saying that Friday, is that the Prime Minister's Cricket 11 match that's going to go ahead?

JOHN HOWARD: Yes, the game against the West Indies, yes.

JANE HUTCHEON: And that's on Friday…

JOHN HOWARD: Yes, yes.

JANE HUTCHEON: …the same day that Van Nguyen is going to be executed…


JANE HUTCHEON: Do you think it would be sensitive to see you attending that cricket match?

JOHN HOWARD: Well, Jane, I have a job that involves many responsibilities. It wasn't my decision that the execution take place on Friday.

JANE HUTCHEON: So you do plan to go to the cricket match?

JOHN HOWARD: I have a duty as the host to go to that match.

JANE HUTCHEON: Would you support…

JOHN HOWARD: And I think the… I think the Australian people will understand that I didn't set the date of this man's execution. I had wished there was no date set for his execution, and the idea of not attending the game or of abandoning it, I don't think it's something that the majority of the Australian people would necessarily believe I should do.

- from ABC Radio's AM, 28.11.05 (transcript | MP3)

As Prime Minister, John Howard says he has a duty to attend the Prime Minister's XI match against the West Indies on Friday, despite the national outrage as an Australian national, Van Nguyen, is scheduled to be executed in Singapore on a drug possession conviction that same day.

Today there were calls for JH to either not attend the game on Friday or even call it off, and there's a report on ABC Radio's midday program The World Today that covers this.

Personally, I think there's nothing to be achieved by the PM not attending the PM XI game. If they were playing against a team from Singapore it might be another matter. I do think it's appropriate, however, for a minute's silence to be observed in memory of Nguyen and all those people killed around the world in the name of judicial punishment. Nguyen is due to be hanged at 6am Friday Singapore time (9am in Sydney) and many Australians are planning to observe a minute's silence at that moment. So will I.

But let's get back to JH's declaration in the AM interview that "I have a duty as the host to go to that match." What happened to that duty on 21 March 2003 when he declined to attend the PM XI's match against the ATSIC (Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission) XI at the Adelaide Oval?

His excuse? Australia, in partnership with the United States and the UK, had just commenced a war in Iraq. (I wrote about this episode in the mid-section of this December 2003 article.)

Considering that it was a war waged against the wishes of the Australian people, without obvious cause and, as we now know, under false pretences, one wonders if that was an acceptable excuse for not going to the cricket at all.