Sunday, December 16, 2007

Howard's Final Betrayal

Try explaining the meaning of "non core promises" "caretaker period" and "election commitments" to a kid concerned about the fate of endangered orangutans in Sumatra and Borneo.

During the election campaign, Howard promised the kid he would help save the orangutans. Now the kid has been told Howard's bitterly cynical election stunt was meaningless :
The father of a Sydney boy with cerebral palsy claims his son was used for an election stunt by former prime minister John Howard.

Mr Howard paid a visit to the Terrey Hills home of 11-year-old Daniel Clarke on November 5, in the midst of the election campaign, to announce funds to save endangered orang-utans...

Daniel's father, Rodney Clarke, 40, said he has now been informed the $200,000 is no longer going ahead because it was an election promise.

"The prime minister looked into my son's eyes and made him a promise," he said.

"Daniel had worked so hard and faithfully to make a difference and at no time did the prime minister indicate that this commitment would be an election promise.

"My wife and I raise our children on values in which your word is your bond, which made it particularly difficult for us to explain the prime minister's actions to Daniel."

A letter from Malcolm Turnbull, dated November 9, confirms the funding and does not specify it as an election promise. It reads: "I am delighted to advise that the Australian Government has agreed to provide funding of $200,000 in 2007/08 to the Australian Orang-utan Project (AOP) to continue the valuable work of the orang-utan protection units."

Heritage Strategy Branch assistant secretary Greg Terrill withdrew the funding commitment in an email.

Turnbull's names on the letter saying funding had been agreed to, so why shouldn't he and Howard reach into their pockets to keep the promise made to Daniel?

Howard, of course, made sure the media was with him when he went to see Daniel Clarke and made his promise of funding to help save the orangutans. The media pit stop resulted in literally hundreds of newspaper stories, radio and television reports.

The bastards. They didn't even have the guts to send someone to see the kid face to face and explain what had happened.

That's downright cold.