We all remember Margaret Whitlam’s extensive contributions to Australian public life. There was … well, something. And possibly one or two other things. All of which leaves her entitled to criticise Janette Howard:
Former first lady Margaret Whitlam has criticised Prime Minister John Howard’s wife Janette for not doing enough for the community.
Mrs Whitlam, whose husband Gough was prime minister from 1972 to 1975, says Mrs Howard has no sense of humour and should not still be holding hands with her husband in public.
“For God’s sake, they’ve been married for over 30 years!” Mrs Whitlam says in a new biography to be published next week.
No holding hands? If you say so, Mullah Margaret.
In extracts from the biography, published in The Bulletin magazine today, Mrs Whitlam says Mrs Howard does not do enough charity work or public appearances.
“She is useless in terms of how little she really gives the community,” Mrs Whitlam is quoted as saying.
“She doesn’t even go to the old people’s homes that Howard visits. The only thing she goes to is big public things.
“There’s Howard shaking hands and kissing old ladies in retirement homes. If you’ve got a wife, your wife should be there, too.”
But then they might hold hands. It’s a protocol nightmare for the First Lady.
“You have certain obligations to make the most of the position, to accept invitations, to support charitable causes, to let yourself be known to the people of Australia.
“I mean, people want to see you. What is she hiding?”
Mrs Whitlam questioned what else Mrs Howard had to do.
“What on earth does she do with her time?” she says in the biography, by Susan Mitchell.
According to the article, Mrs Howard’s recent engagements included a fundraiser for a youth charity last Friday, a private lunch in support of cancer research organisation Centenary Institute on Monday, and a dinner hosted by the National Breast Cancer Foundation on Tuesday.
UPDATE: “Prime Minister John Howard says he will continue to hold hands with his wife, Janette, despite criticism by Margaret Whitlam.”
(Via Hal G.P. Colebatch)
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