KEVIN RUDD: Does the Prime Minister recall his industry minister saying just six months ago: "I am a sceptic of the connection between emissions and climate change"? Does the Prime Minister support this statement?
Mr HOWARD: It is not only remarks made by people in this parliament. There is a farmer I know who is sceptical about that connection as well! But we can debate. Let me say to the Leader of the Opposition that the jury is still out on the degree of connection.
John Howard, the self-styled "cricket tragic" who takes seems blissfully unaware of either one-day cricket or Twenty20, made a cameo appearance at Maroubra Beach this morning to toss the bat prior to the Australia v England Beach Cricket international. England won.
Of course he does. What's the problem?
Outreach Media, a subsidiary of the non-denominational FEVA Ministries, produces a monthly series of colourful signs with attention-grabbing Christian messages, which it syndicates to churches around the country (mostly in Sydney, though I saw one in Newcastle recently).
Some examples of their handiwork, including a very clever Telstra parody, can be seen on their website. Last month, the theme, timed to coincide with the Ashes, was "Would you worship Jesus if he scored 10,000 Test runs?"
It slipped by unnoticed at the time, but John Howard mentioned "Darfur" by name for, I believe, the first time, in his Christmas message to the nation on December 24, 2006.
Even if it was as part of one sentence which looks like it was inserted into the speech almost as an afterthought:
It's also a time to remember some of the tragic trouble spots of the world; areas like Darfur in Africa and the troubled Middle East.
"People can say a lot of ridiculous things and they should be able to say ridiculous things in a democracy..."
Never mind the personnel changes announced this morning in John Howard's ministerial reshuffle (though I'll get to those shortly). The thing that struck me on first reading through the press release was the changes in vocabulary.
ELLEN FANNING: Prime Minister, part of what was chilling yesterday was seeing a lot of people in between the violence doing things that you'd see at the cricket, singing "Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi", wrapping themselves in the Australian flag. What do you say to people who use the Australian flag in that way?
PRIME MINISTER: Look, I would never condemn people for being proud of the Australian flag. I don't care – I would never condemn people for being proud....
Throughout the Ashes, I'll be watching the Prime Ministerial website for cricketing references in John Winston Howard's media interviews. I'll also be keeping score on the number of references he makes to Darfur or any other major African conflict. (As regular followers of this blog will already be aware, the number of times that John Howard has used the word "Darfur" in public as recorded either in Hansard or in the pm.gov.au transcript archives currently stands at zero.)
Let's kick it off with JWH's interview with Virginia Trioli at 2BL ABC Local Radio Sydney on November 13:
"Dear Mr Bono, Jeanette and I would be delighted to meet your good self and Cher on your next visit to Sydney." - the joke I didn't get to use after all.
There are, however, reports that Little Johnny said, after being told that his U2ness would be at Telstra Stadium this Saturday night, "I didn't know there was a footy game at Telstra Stadium this Saturday. Who's playing?"