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Howard and Rudd united on need for further dr -

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VIRGINIA TRIOLI: Far from the tumultuous scenes of yesterday, the nation's political leaders have
focused on the drought today. Kevin Rudd and John Howard are both pledging to spend more money to
help farmers struggling under the strain of the worst drought for decades.

Political rivalry was even put aside briefly to mark Kevin Rudd's 50th birthday.

From Canberra, Hayden Cooper reports.

HAYDEN COOPER: There's nothing like a dusty dose of reality to sharpen the senses.

FARMER: We haven't had water for two years.


FARMER: Holding up. Had to sell one property already.

HAYDEN COOPER: Leaving the bitterness of parliament behind, the politicians are back in the real
world and in regional NSW, Kevin Rudd was given a blunt briefing.

FARMER: This is an absolute prick of a drought. If you look around the faces of these blokes you'll
see what we're talking about. We're sick to death of the thing. We can't make it rain. But we've
got to make sure when we come out the other end we can get going again very quickly.

KEVIN RUDD: I don't want to be Prime Minister of Australia and of a country where we no longer have
a viable agricultural sector.

HAYDEN COOPER: Saving rural Australia is front and centre for both parties. Labor's offering $60
million to help farmers deal with climate change. Back in Canberra, the Prime Minister revealed
he's softening the assets test to make it easier for farmers to get help.

JOHN HOWARD, PRIME MINISTER: We will be providing additional help because this drought has gone on
much longer than people ever dreamt likely and I know how hard it's hitting.

KEVIN RUDD: If this drought continues and you start to be in five, six, seven years of continuing
drought, we've got to start to look at the over all underpinnings of how we provide drought
assistance in the future, look at how we cause our farming commune to survive long term.

HAYDEN COOPER: And in the cities where the state governments are grappling with water shortages
too, the Treasurer is pushing his own game plan.

PETER COSTELLO: This is now very serious. We have a situation where our capital cities are running
out of water. And I think we should have a desalination plant for every capital city in Australia.

JOHN HOWARD: We will get through this only if we work together. Good morning.

JOHN HOWARD: Good morning.

Where do you all come from?

CLASS: Saint Kevin's.

HAYDEN COOPER: Saint Kevin's was the answer. How appropriate on the Labor leader's 50th birthday.


(All laugh)

HAYDEN COOPER: Putting aside the sound and fury of yesterday's parliamentary show down...

KEVIN RUDD: Put your hand up and challenge.

HAYDEN COOPER: was good wishes all round. To a point.

JOHN HOWARD: I wish him a long and healthy life as Leader of the Opposition, and I know it's a very
important milestone in anybody's life.

HAYDEN COOPER: There's another milestone Kevin Rudd would rather be celebrating but still there's
not even a date set for the election.

The corridors of parliament have fallen silent and the Prime Minister is back in Sydney tonight
revealing little about his plans for the weekend.

A trip to see the Governor-General is not expected but not out of the question either.

PETER COSTELLO: I wouldn't try and work yourself up into a lather for Sunday.

JOHN HOWARD: I'm not gonna get into that. Forget it.

HAYDEN COOPER: The waiting game continues. Hayden Cooper, Lateline.