The Dalai Lama’s visit is nigh and the nation’s pollies are polishing their excuses. But in case anyone has left their excuse-making to the last minute, here are the winning suggestions from Crikey readers:

Sydney winner: Craig Duckmanton

Tony Abbott: “…ahh…umm…no…umm…I…ahhhh…”

Melbourne winner: Margaret Kent

Alexander Downer: “Never heard of her.”

Margaret wins two VIP tickets to the Dalai Lama’s public lecture in Melbourne on Saturday 9 June, and Craig wins tickets to the Sydney public lecture on Saturday 16 June. For more information on the Dalai Lama’s tour, please visit