Move over Red Kez! Those 7:30 Report wrangles with our slippery prime minister have been getting ritualised.
The PM has been busy in Busan. Interview after interview. But there’s been one stand-out over the last few days, when Sunday
reporter Sarah Ferguson showed us how to get a hold on him. Howard
will be keener on kipping in Kabul than singing along with her
One of the classic tricks of political interviews is for pollies to
turn on journalists demanding specifics when they raise allegations –
Margaret Thatcher’s “which people” to George Negus’ “people say” in the
classic 60 Minutes joust between the pair from her early days is a classic of the genre.
When she spoke to the PM,
Ferguson reversed the roles and refused to be put off by the usual
Howard bluster and obfuscation. The interview’s been causing comment.
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SARAH FERGUSON: The PM draws different lessons from the case. For him, it’s about workers manipulating unfair dismissal laws.
JOHN HOWARD: There was a well-known case involving 16 employees of the Blair Athol coalmine.
SARAH FERGUSON: You cited the Blair Athol case in Parliament the other
day. Were there lessons from that case that were influential in the
drafting of the legislation?
JOHN HOWARD: No, I just mentioned it in passing.
SARAH FERGUSON: I don’t believe you mention anything just in passing. You must have had a good reason for mentioning it.
JOHN HOWARD: I know why I mention things. You can assert a contrary
view, but you’re asking me the context in which I used it, I’m giving
you the answer.
SARAH FERGUSON: What was that context?
JOHN HOWARD: In a debate.
SARAH FERGUSON: You didn’t just pluck it out of the air.
JOHN HOWARD: I knew about it.
SARAH FERGUSON: So what is it about it you think is interesting?
JOHN HOWARD: It illustrated something.
SARAH FERGUSON: What was that?
JOHN HOWARD: It illustrated how, in certain circumstances, people can
double dip, if they are paid a redundancy and then claim in some way
that their redundancy has amounted to an unfair dismissal.