Prime Minister John Howard has denied ordering a sandwich from a Sydney café yesterday afternoon.
While campaigning in the seat of Wentworth, Mr Howard was overheard telling staff at the La Dolce Veleno café that he "would like to order a sandwich". When presented with a ham and salad sandwich and a bill for $6.40, Mr Howard refused to pay, claiming that he hadn't placed an order.
"Look, I don't want to get into a debate over semantics," Mr Howard said today. "Clearly, however, there are those who for political reasons choose to interpret the phrase 'I would like to order a sandwich' as constituting an order for a sandwich. All I intended to express was that ordering a sandwich would – were I to do it, which I didn’t – be something that I would enjoy, or like, if you will. Unfortunately I left my senior citizen discount card at home yesterday and there was no way I was paying six dollars for a sandwich that Janet could make for seventy-five cents.”
Mr Howard then delivered a stinging attack on the media for “misleading the Australian people by accurately reporting my statements”.
“I’m no English teacher, and as previously stated I’d like to avoid a debate over semantics, but it does strike me that if you lot [the media] are going to report what I say as if it actually means what it sounds like it means, then this kind of trouble is inevitable. ‘I would like to order a sandwich’ could mean a lot of things. I might have been expressing a desire to place the ingredients of a sandwich in some kind of order, or to place a sandwich in order with other items on the menu, say from healthiest to least healthy. I might even have been suggesting that I would like to order – that is command – a sandwich to serve its country in the fight against terrorism. In fact, I now recall that that's precisely what I was doing. And Mr Rudd, by criticising me for doing this, is guilty of politicising the troops. By whom I mean the sandwich I was ordering. And for that he should be ashamed."