PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd has apologised after his comments describing himself as a 'survivor of the Kokoda Track' were labelled stupid by veterans.
Mr Rudd on Monday acknowledged that more than 3000 Australians a year followed in the footsteps of the 30,000 diggers who fought a pitched campaign along the Track in 1942 under appalling conditions.
Mr Rudd walked the Track in 2006 with Liberal heavyweight Joe Hockey as part of a TV stunt.
"I was one of them way back then and I am a survivor of the Kokoda Track," Mr Rudd said at his Moresby press conference, conducted with a portrait of himself in the background.
News.com.au reported that Mr Rudd on Tuesday apologised for "any misinterpretation" that followed his claim.
"I think, in my speech I said that 3000 Australians walked the Kokoda Track every year and that I had done the same and had survived," he said as he left for a walk in Townsville shortly after 6am.
"That's actually what I meant. If people have taken that a different way, then of course I'm sorry about any misinterpretation."
Bede Tongs, 93, was awarded the Military Medal for single-handedly taking out a Japanese machine gun post at Templeton's Crossing in September 1942.
He told News: "It was a stupid thing to say, he wasn't there. Instead of saying stupid things he should spend more money on health and education for our friends in PNG.''
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