Subject: Ramos-Horta's shooting was worst day of Rudd's term so far

AAP Newsfeed

March 3, 2008 Monday 11:15 AM AEST

Ramos-Horta's shooting was worst day of PM's term so far

Maria Hawthorne, Chief Political Correspondent


Prime Minister Kevin Rudd says the assassination attempt on East Timor's president and prime minister was the worst day of his first 100 days in office.

Today marks 100 days since Labor turfed the coalition out of office at the November 24 election.

Mr Rudd is marking the occasion with a cabinet meeting, a speech to a business lunch in his home town of Brisbane and a series of media appearances.

Asked to nominate his worst day, Mr Rudd said it was February 11, when East Timor's president Jose Ramos-Horta was shot and gunmen attempted to ambush Prime Minister Xanana Gusmao in Dili.

"To be blunt, when I got the phone call to say that in our near neighbour to the north, East Timor, there'd been an attempt to decapitate the entire democratically-elected leadership of that small democracy," Mr Rudd told ABC radio in Brisbane.

"That involved difficult decisions. We turned it around within 24 hours by having troops on the ground and further police on the ground within the day."

Mr Rudd said the job of prime minister was the most challenging thing he'd done, but also very satisfying.

"You can think and plan and hope that you might be able to make some changes to the nation's long-term good," he said.

"But actually being elected to do something about it, well that's something else."

The biggest change was the lack of time.

"I think there are less hours in the day. There used to be 24 - I'm not sure any more," he said.

Mr Rudd would not be drawn on how much sleep he got, only to say it was "not enough".

But he said he was not the only one working hard.

"What I find with most people across the country is that people are working harder and longer to make ends meet," he said.

"Talk to families about how they manage to hang it together for weekends these days - it's not just looking after the kids but doing some part time work on weekends as well."

Mr Rudd moved his family from Brisbane to the official Canberra residence The Lodge before Christmas.

He returned to his electorate last month to work in his mobile office for a day to talk to his constituents and held a community cabinet meeting north of Brisbane yesterday.

"(It was a) challenging experience but I think it's really important for any government to remain in touch," he said.

"I think people in my local community will understand I've got a few other things on my plate at the moment.

"But I'll be back in Brissie as often as I can and when I get a chance, there talking to people."

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