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Prime Minister moves question time back half an hour in order to attend cricket match between the Prime Minister's Eleven and the touring England team.



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This transcript has been prepared by a source external to the Department of the Parliamentary Library.

 

It may not have been checked against the broadcast or in any other way. Freedom from error, omissions or misunderstandings cannot be guaranteed.

 

For the purposes of quoting verbatim from a transcript, it is advisable to verify the transcript against the broadcast.

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PM

 

Tuesday 10 December 2002

 

 

Prime Minister moves question time back half an hour in order to attend cricket match between the Prime Minister's Eleven and the touring England team.

 

 

MARK COLVIN: The Prime Minister was given the choice between cricket and question time today, and he reacted by moving question time. Overnight and early morning rain delayed the start of the Prime Minister's Eleven match against the battered Eng lish touring team. Faced with limited time at the match, Mr. Howard simply moved question time in the Federal Parliament back by half an hour. 

 

Ross Solly reports. 

 

ROSS SOLLY: It's a tough time to be Prime Minister of Australia, what with talk of war and such, but with this Prime Minister there's always going to be at least half a day every year when issues of such gravitas are far from his mind. 

 

Yes, it's John Howard, and yes, he's at the cricket, looking over a collection of trophies the Australian men's and women's teams have won in recent years. It's not just any cricket day; it's his cricket day in Canberra: the Prime Minister's Eleven versus the tourists, this year, the hapless England, still chasing their first win on tour. 

 

There's always been considerable conjecture over just how much influence the Prime Minister has over the naming of his team. It's believed he puts up a few names, and the real selectors fill in the gaps. This year, Mr. Howard delighted fellow cricket tragics in Canberra by announcing Mark Waugh would lead his team.  

 

Sir Robert Menzies started the practice of a PM's match, but with his departure the game fell away until, Mr. Howard told a very well attended lunch today, another cricket tragic entered the Lodge. 

 

JOHN HOWARD: Through the Prime Ministerships of Holt, Gorton, MacMahon, Whitlam and Fraser, there was no Prime Minister's Eleven, and to his eternal credit, my Labor predecessor, Bob Hawke decided to bring the practice back, and you might say Howard and Hawke have formed a unity ticket on that subject, and both of us must confess to being mildly tragic about the game of cricket, and therefore I'm delighted to continue in that tradition.  

 

ROSS SOLLY: England's yet to win a game on this tour of Australia, so it would have been very un-Australian for Mr. Howard's team to spoil the record, especially when overnight rain forced a delay to the start, forcing Mr. Howard to move parliamentary question time back by half an hour so he could squeeze in more cricket.  

 

England's captain, Nasser Hussein chose to sit out today's match, and sat between Mr. And Mrs. Howard at today's lunch, while English wickets were tumbling out in the middle. One sensed it was not a difficult choice for Nasser Hussein to make, between eating smoked salmon and sipping chardonnay, or taking part in another English batting collapse. 

 

NASSER HUSSEIN: We haven't won a game yet in Australia, and we're not doing particularly well out there today. Nothing to do with me, I might add.  

 

ROSS SOLLY: The affinity with Australia goes much further than just being an English touring captain, doesn't it, in this case?  

 

NASSER HUSSEIN: Well, I have a sister in Perth who dances for the Western Australia ballet, and I unfortunately have a son who was born out here now, and is already starting to sledge me when I come in from… [raucous audience laughter]. 

 

ROSS SOLLY: 3-0 down already in the Test series, the one day series starting on Friday. There will be worse days on tour for Nasser Hussein, than sipping chardonnay with Australian Prime Minister and cricket selector, John Howard.  

 

MARK COLVIN: Well, we assume there will be. We know there have been. Ross Solly reporting.