As we always love reminding readers, Alfred
Deakin didn’t let being prime minister stop him from acting as Australian
correspondent for the London Morning Post. The Sydney Morning Herald’s Spike column
keeps a close sceptical eye on the journalistic endeavours of our own PM. Here’s what it
said a few weeks ago:

John Howard is a busy man, what with
running the country, yet we are supposed to believe he finds the time to pen a
weekly newspaper column. It has appeared in the local paper of his Bennelong
electorate since he became Prime Minister a decade ago and is called ‘John
Howard Reports’, with the tagline ‘Exclusive to The Weekly Times‘. It also has
his signature at the bottom.

Now there’s a suggestion that our leader is
branching out. “There is no sign of the PM slowing down, with another suite of
overseas trips beckoning ahead of Christmas,” Steve Lewis writes in The
Australian
today
– before leaving us dangling with this delicious tit-bit: “There are also
reports, unconfirmed, that Howard will start writing a weekly column for wire
service AAP. That will boost his profile and suggests a Prime Minister who is
giving little, if any, thought to his retirement any time soon.”

But will we be getting unadulterated John
Howard? The Weekly Times told Spike that the column arrives from the PM’s electorate
office each Monday. However, when Spike went asking last month “nobody from his
office was able to comment on the origin of the column… and referred Spike to
Howard’s Parliament House staff. None of them was able to get back to us either.”

Spike did find a senior writer at The
Weekly Times
who was willing to talk, Chris Karas. He said the paper would be
disappointed if the PM didn’t write his column himself. “I would hope that he
does check it, at least. But how do you know, I suppose? You don’t know for
sure.”

AAP, of course, is a much bigger show. The
PM wouldn’t disappoint them now, would he?

Peter Fray

A lot can happen in 3 months.

3 months is a long time in 2020. Join us to make sense of it all.

Get you first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12. Cancel anytime.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

12 weeks for $12