Thursday, November 22, 2007

Aussie PM's house up for sale

The spectacular harbourside Sydney residence of Australian Prime Minister John Howard was offered for sale on Thursday in a prank ahead of a national election tipped to sweep the veteran conservative from power.

"Impressive waterfront views! Poised on the top of a hill and the envy of many onlookers. This two-storey house is a residence of power," said a spoof advertisement on newspaper real estate Web site

"Breathtaking views of Sydney's beautiful harbour, perfect place to view Sydney's fireworks," it said under a photo of Howard on the steps of Kirribilli House, the prime minister's official residence which looks out on the Opera House and Sydney Harbour Bridge.

On Thursday, Howard, 68 and in power for 11 years, delivered his final national televised speech ahead of the November 24 vote, which successive polls show Labor's Kevin Rudd is likely to win.

"Plans for A$500,000-plus (211,785 pound-plus) renovation of the dining room to re-enact the predicted Last Supper," the ad said. "Current occupant considering a move even if a new lease is signed."

Howard used the Kirribilli residence, built in 1854, to entertain foreign leaders including U.S. President George W. Bush during an Asia-Pacific summit in September.

The ad noted that the house used 28 times more water than the average household at a time when Australia was in a 10-year drought.

Michael McNamara, a spokesman for, owned by one of the nation's biggest newspapers groups, said the ad was posted in-house by an unidentified staff member.

"From our perspective it was a bit of light-hearted fun after the stress of a long election campaign. I don't think we'll be removing it any time soon," he told Reuters.

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