It is of course more than likely that the Prime Minister was just being polite. Take as long as you like, Kevin Rudd told John Howard. Don’t rush to leave Kirribilli, move out when you’re good and ready.

The refined social instinct that can infallibly sort the genuine offer from a civilised but rhetorical gesture in these situations is a rare gift. But anyone with a hide fractionally finer than that of a well-tanned rhinoceros would have sensed that the decent thing on losing the election would be to pack up from all official residences with dispatch.

So how is it, two weeks down the track, that the PM and wife are still gazing out across the Kirribilli lawns from the breakfast nook? The pair of them still being kept by the Australian taxpayer in the manner to which they became accustomed over 11 years, 11 years in which their preference for Kirribilli over the Lodge cost the Australian taxpayer something in the order of $17 million?

We wouldn’t normally worry, it’s just that John Howard has form when it comes to not knowing when it’s, ah, time to go. So … could we suggest, Mr Howard, if you can prise your wife’s finger nails from the south drawing room’s axminster, that being there for Christmas would not be a good look?

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey