John Howard’s off overseas today – and, yes, it’s odd for a Prime Minister to leave the country so soon after the Budget.

this has led to speculation. As we reported on Wednesday, one school
of thought says he’s setting up the Treasurer for a fall, leaving him
to sell the Budget on his own in the hope that he will fail – and that
their colleagues in the Government will realise that JW Howard is

But so far the Budget has looked pretty easy to flog – leading to the obvious theory.

Prime Minister travels freely – but always makes sure that there’s some
sort of centrepiece to his trips so they can’t be portrayed as
Whitlamesque junketing. But where is the centrepiece of this trip?

The SMH has given us a rundown of some of the stops:

  • The
    prime minister will have lunch with US Vice-President Dick Cheney in
    Washington on Saturday ahead of formal meetings on Monday with
    Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld
    and Energy Secretary Samuel Bodman.

  • He will also watch
    as Harriet M Fulbright, the widow of educational exchange program
    founder J William Fulbright, receives Australia’s highest honour –
    investiture into the Order of Australia…

  • On Tuesday, he will meet Mr Bush, senior members of the US cabinet and Congressional leaders.
  • That
    evening, he will be presented with international Jewish organisation
    B’nai B’rith’s presidential gold medal for steadfast friendship to the
    people of Israel before the White House dinner…

  • He will spend two days in Ottawa – his first visit to Canada since the Vancouver APEC meeting in 1997.
  • He
    will talk to returned servicemen who have served with Australians in
    Afghanistan and address a joint sitting of the Canadian parliament.

  • In
    Dublin, the prime minister will lay a wreath in the Garden of Remembrance and answer questions from students at the Global Irish

  • He will also meet his Irish counterpart Bertie Ahern and Irish President Mary McAleese, and address the Irish Parliament.
  • He
    will hold talks with media magnate Tony O’Reilly, whose Independent
    News and Media owns a share in a radio network and a string of regional
    newspapers in Australia.

Phew! That would be a pretty spectacular lap of honour.