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John Howard's emotional interview

Former Prime Minister John Howard strayed from the usual straight laced political agenda to give Channel 7’s Sunday Night viewers a glimpse of his softer side on a few emotional topics.

Former Prime Minister John Howard on Sunday Night. PHOTO: Sunday Night.
Mr Howard sat down with guest reporter Janet Albrechtsen for a wide ranging interview during which he tenderly discussed the sudden loss of his father as a teenager growing up in Sydney’s inner south-west.
"He was very laconic, he didn't say a lot," Mr Howard said of his father. "He was quiet but very honourable and very committed and dedicated."
But one afternoon while playing cricket at Canterbury's Blick Oval, the future leader's world would suddenly change forever.
"He died of a stroke," he explained.
Mr Howard said his eldest brother broke the news to him.
"When we got in the car he put his arm around me and said he'd died and so that was a big moment in my life, it changed."
Mr Howard says the loss of his father, Lyall came at a time when he was just getting to know his dad as an adult.
"I was 16 but I did miss him, my dad, because we'd gotten to a point in my life where I was spending more time with him and he was getting to a point where he was going to be at home a lot more and it was probable that over the next the next few years we would have spent even more time with each other and we would have almost certainly spent an enormous amount of time talking about politics," said Mr Howard.
Lyall Howard was a small business owner and along with John's mother, Mona raised John and his three older brothers in the middle class suburb of Earlwood.
Australia's second-longest-serving prime minster credited his parents for his political interests.
"My parents talked politics, they encouraged us to talk politics, they talked issues, so from a very early age I had a very lively in interest in issues that affected our community,” Mr Howard said.
During the hour-long interview, the 75-year-old recalled the first time he met his wife Janette on Valentine’s Day in 1970.
Mr Howard said he was "smitten" at the first encounter.
"She was an intelligent and vibrant person, looked gorgeous and we started chatting and then we started going out," explains Mr Howard.
"I thought I got the best end of the arrangement."
However, Mr Howard opened up about one of the darker periods in his 43-year marriage when the mother of his three children was diagnosed with cancer in 1996.
"She told me in my office she’d had a test and revealed that she'd very likely had cervical cancer," Mr Howard said.
The news of Janette's illness came when Mr Howard was the PM and leading Australians through a national period of mourning just one month after the tragic Port Arthur massacre.
"So the next couple of weeks were just tumultuous in an emotional sense because I feared for her and she obviously feared for her future and we worried about the possible impact of a prolonged illness or something even worse on our children," said Mr Howard.
Although Janette made a full recovery, Mr Howard said at the time he was fraught with fear about what could have happened.
"It really did affect me quite badly," Mr Howard said.
"I was thinking that I might lose my wife. I was frightened it would be the worst possible outcome and it might claim her life."
Mr Howard also had some kind words for former Labor Party leader Paul Keating who "graciously" phoned him to wish his wife well.
"He rang me and said he'd heard about it and he said I am very sorry to hear it and it's tough," Mr Howard said.
"I thought it was a very decent gracious thing for him to do."

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