Foul language just fine with Australians

Sydney  - Some Australians are wondering what has happened to public decency after their prime minister laughed off criticism of his repeated use of the F-word. Kevin Rudd refused to say sorry for coming out with foul language during a heated meeting with colleagues in Parliament House in Canberra.

"I make no apology for either the content of my conversation or the robustness with which I expressed my views," he said. And his underlings rallied round, defending their boss for being no different to other Australians.

"There's as much chance of the prime minister swearing as you and I have sworn from time to time in the past," Foreign Minister Stephen Smith said. "All of us engage regrettably in that sort of language from time to time."

Something has changed. It's as if Rudd believes that swearing will make him more popular rather than less popular.

Before him, others have denied bad language or apologised for it - in the case of former top politician Peter Beattie, he did both. Beattie insisted he would never swear in public - until he learned his oaths had been taped.

Smith and other colleagues have argued that foul language is a minor infringement. But the opposite view has been put: That Rudd's bad language was effectively bullying, because those on the receiving end of his tirade were his subordinates.

"The prime minister is a nasty bully and his flippant justification shows he doesn't get it," the Sun Herald said in an editorial. "His bullying won't stop until he is made to stop. It's time to remind the prime minister that his behaviour wouldn't be accepted in any other workplace in the country." (dpa)