There’s no doubt Janette and Hyacinth are physically alike and both are pretentious to the nth degree, but there the similarity ends. 

  

 Janette is the most invisible Prime Ministerial wife since Elizabeth Chifley (let’s be totally correct and stop referring to her at the “first lady”; that belongs to Marlena Jeffery – wife of the invisible Governor General), and she’s known to be as hard as nails.  Janette’s main activity is trawling through the daily newspapers looking for adverse comments about John and passing them on to his office. Then there are the long telephone chats with Janet McDonald, Donald’s wife, and her best friend. And of course she has notched up millions of miles by accompanying Howard on all his overseas jaunts; pity she doesn’t have a fashion adviser. The public gets no value from Janette but it costs plenty to keep her happy, in fact millions of dollars.  Her decision to live at Kirribilli using their kids education as the reason was never queried by the compliant Gallery and the disinterested opposition – it is a national scandal.  And like the Buckets, the Howards in the main have only each other. Guess in life there has to be some compensation.

Peter Fray

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