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Howard claims duty free booze ‘pretty much balanced up the cost of Centenary trip’

[Edition 25] CANBERRA, Wednesday: Prime Minister John Howard has launched a scathing attack on critics of his overseas trip celebrating the Centenary of the Federation of Australia. Releasing figures from Treasury Mr Howard has claimed that the trip was ‘pretty much revenue neutral’.

‘We got the top shelf stuff to increase the savings for the Aussie taxpayer’: Mr Howard

[Edition 25] CANBERRA, Wednesday: Prime Minister John Howard has launched a scathing attack on critics of his overseas trip celebrating the Centenary of the Federation of Australia. Releasing figures compiled by Treasury, Mr Howard has claimed that the trip was ‘pretty much revenue neutral’.

Mr Howard pointed to huge savings in the alcohol budget of Federal Cabinet and Kirribilli House, thanks to the duty free purchases.

“People complained when we took so many advisers and half the Australian Army with us,” said an obviously offended Howard. “But an individual can only bring in 2 litres of booze, so the more people we took, the more the savings really shot up when we finally were able to come home.”

While the Treasury figures were not conclusive, Government believes that the savings of A$20 made by each of the party of
hundreds will roughly cancel out the A$2 million spent on the trip. Mr Howard believes that once money saved on the cost of cinema tickets saved by having members of the delegation see the in-flight movies, the trip will be a significant windfall to the Australian budget.

The trip was, in broad terms, a success for Mr Howard, who got a better than expected coverage in the British press.

“Well, obviously the London Daily Telegraph said he was ‘widely held to be remarkably dull’, but overall the UK papers simply weren’t aware that he was there, so it was a huge success,” said an obviously pleased source close to the Prime Minister.

The greatest disappointment of the Prime Ministerial trip was Mr Howard’s failure to appear during Question Time in the House of Commons. “I would have been there but, this big bus of aged people from Manchester got there really early in the morning, so the galleries filled up quicker than expected,” said a disappointed Howard.

The Leader of the Opposition, Kim Beazley, who declined to go on the trip so that he and his staff could ensure that the GST received only the most inept and unsuccessful of criticisms during its introduction, has slammed the Prime Minister for other “fringe benefit” purchases for his family that he made at the duty-free store at London’s Heathrow airport. Howard was today refusing to accept these criticisms, defending his purchases as being “for all of us”. “The public prosecutor insisted that my son Tim not be allowed behind the wheel for several months, so I think it’s in everyone’s interest that I buy him a PlayStation and a copy of Gran Turismo,” said the PM. “And I have no doubt that if Kim Beazley had to live with my daughter Melanie, he would also have bought her those six litres of
perfume.”