PRIME Minister Kevin Rudd made his best impersonation of a funeral director in Lismore yesterday complete with a black tie, sombre tones and talks of a day of mourning.
Luckily, he wasn't talking about the national health care system that he had come to town to discuss, but the diagnosis of Australian sport after a demoralising weekend which saw defeats in the Bledisloe Cup to New Zealand and the Ashes to England.
The loss to the Kiwis meant the Prime Minister was forced to wear an All Blacks tie after a bet with New Zealand Prime Minister John Key prior to the Bledisloe Cup rugby union match on Saturday.
“Yes, this is an All Blacks tie,” Mr Rudd told assembled medical professionals at the Lismore forum.
“Yes, I'm not having fun wearing it. Yes, I had a bet with the New Zealand Prime Minister that if we lost I'd wear an All Blacks tie and we lost so I'm wearing an All Blacks tie.
“We are Australians and we honour our bets. It's a black tie and that's appropriate because of course it is a day of general mourning for Australian sport.
“We lost to the Kiwis in rugby and we lost to the Poms in cricket but I will say to both the Kiwis and the Poms that we may have lost this time but we will be back with a vengeance and we have a long memory. But congratulations to both of them.”
The woes of the Wallabies became a running theme through the forum with a number of keen rugby followers happy to play along with the Prime Minister.
One senior dental officer was quick to put the Wallabies' loss in perspective.
“Speaking as a Welsh-born Australian we haven't beaten the All Blacks for 30 years so one loss is nothing,” he chuckled.
Later, an Alstonville practitioner, who was wearing a Wallabies tie, offered to swap Mr Rudd so the Australian leader could avoid the continued embarrassment.
“It makes us very sad to see you wearing that tie today so feel free to swap with me at any time,” the Alstonville doctor said.
Before the forum at the University Department of Rural Health, the Prime Minister made a brief tour of the Lismore Base Hospital and happily chatted with staff and patients in the cafeteria where the tie again became the centre of attention.
Mr Rudd told hospital staff that he didn't welch on bets while he also said the haka reminded him of a form of New Zealand ballroom dancing, which is sure to impress our cousins across the Tasman.
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