The PM has got his knickers in a knot about some comments that we make in our chapter on Australian national identity and that both the Weekend Australian and the Sunday Telegraph have extracted. Here’s part of what the PM’s office had to say in today’s Oz
Bradman not the greatest: PM
I WRITE to correct an assertion made by Macgregor Duncan, Andrew Leigh, David Madden and Peter Tynan (Review, 17-18/7).It is wrong to say Prime Minister John Howard nominates Sir Donald Bradman as the greatest ever Australian. Instead, before Sir Donald’s death in 2001, the Prime Minister suggested he was the greatest living Australian. There is a significant difference between the two statements.
Office of the Prime Minister
Unfortunately, the PM’s office is being a bit selective with the historical record. On 21 February 2001, Howard called Bradman “the most remarkable figure that Australia has produced in the last 100 years”. On 26 February 2001, Howard said “No Australian has gathered greater respect, greater reverence and has had a greater impact on this country than Don Bradman”. There is no doubt that Bradman is Australia’s greatest sporting figure. But to elevate him to the greatest Australian goes too far. The Americans, the British, and the Indians, who love their sport, would never think to place the likes of Babe Ruth or George Best or Kapil Dev into their respective national pantheons, which are reserved for the likes of Washington and Lincoln, Disraeli and Churchill, Gandhi and Nehru. For Australia’s part, Alfred Deakin and John Curtin, Howard Florey and Roma Mitchell surely rank ahead of Bradman. We’ve written to the editors to tell them this — have to see now if they’ll publish it…