Aussie prime minister refuses to say “billion”

Faithful and funny Australian communication correspondent Rodney Gray follows Aussie prime minister Kevin Rudd and sends updates across the Pacific.

The latest: Rudd and his treasurer are being forced these days to talk a lot about a national budget deficit projected to be $300 billion.

Except, Gray says and the Australian Associated Press confirms, they won’t say “billion,” because if they say only “300,” their political opponents can’t make ads quoting them as saying “$300 billion.”
Mr. Rudd said debt would peak at “around about 200, our gross debt at about 300” in 2013-14.

Asked to explain 200 or 300 of what, Mr. Rudd responded: “These are billion figures.”

Journalists had to add the “billion” in parentheses.

Australian journalist Annabel Crabb reacted, “I don’t know if I’ve ever seen anything so awfully, skin-crawlingly, knuckle-bitingly embarrassing ….”

Vital Speeches readers, I bet you have. Let’s hear it.

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