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ABC TV show described house at Wollstonecraft on Sydney’s north shore as ‘very ordinary’

A house in an upscale suburb near Sydney Harbor has been described as ‘quite ordinary’ despite its proximity to the city in a fascinating look into John Howard’s rise using ABC’s archival footage.

The house was used in a 1978 feature on the ABC current affairs program, This Day Tonight.

The Wollstonecraft house, on the town’s lower north coast, described as ‘common’, is now said to be worth millions of dollars.

The profile piece described then 38-year-old Federal Liberal treasurer John Howard, who went on to become Australia’s second longest serving Prime Minister.

Everything about John Howard is nondescript: he lives in a very ordinary three-bedroom house in a suburb on the north coast of Sydney,” it reads.

“It’s functional, convenient, but hardly a status symbol.”

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A house in an upscale suburb near Sydney Harbor was described as 'very ordinary' despite its proximity to the city in an ABC TV segment

A house in an upscale suburb near Sydney Harbor was described as ‘very ordinary’ despite its proximity to the city in an ABC TV segment

The old ABC footage then goes to Mr. Howard in the kitchen with his wife Janette, as the microphone catches the then treasurer and says the words, “Sorry about that.”

The voiceover continues, “There’s also nothing flamboyant about the inside or the Howard lifestyle when it comes down to it.”

The journalist also noted that in a late 1960s England-designed Austin 1800, Mr Howard ran over footage of him backing out of his driveway.

“No flashy cars for the Howards either,” the voiceover said.

“He’s had this rusty, rattling device for seven years and it’s doubtful whether it’s been near a car wash or a panel knocker since he first entered Parliament.”

The clip was played on the ABC Of special with actor David Wenham interviewing Mr Howard, 83, to commemorate the national broadcaster’s 90th anniversary.

In 2022, some 44 years later, Wollstonecraft is far from ‘common’.

The suburb has its own train station and is just 6 km from Sydney city center via a train or car journey across the Sydney Harbor Bridge.

The zip code it falls under, 2065, has a median home price of $4.3 million, which is more than three times higher than Sydney’s median home price of $1.346 million.

Wollstonecraft is far from 'ordinary', but with its own train station it is an upmarket suburb just 4 miles from Sydney city center via a train or car journey across the Sydney Harbor Bridge.  The zip code it falls under, 2065, has a median home price of $4.3 million, which is more than three times higher than Sydney's median home price of $1.346 million.

Wollstonecraft is far from ‘ordinary’, but with its own train station it is an upmarket suburb just 4 miles from Sydney city center via a train or car journey across the Sydney Harbor Bridge. The zip code it falls under, 2065, has a median home price of $4.3 million, which is more than three times higher than Sydney’s median home price of $1.346 million.

Mr Howard’s ordinariness proved to be a political asset as the Wollstonecraft native led the coalition to a landslide victory in 1996 and won a suburban electorate like Lindsay, covering Penrith in western Sydney, which was previously only a Labor seat.

He was re-elected in 1998, 2001 and 2004, retaining voters such as Longman in the far north of Brisbane, Robertson on the NSW Central Coast, Eden-Monaro on the south coast, Herbert in Townsville and Leichhardt in Cairns.

But as Prime Minister from 1996 to 2007, the Howards lived at Kirribilli House in Sydney Harbour, just 2 miles away.

That was in stark contrast to Malcolm Turnbull, one of his Liberal successors, who chose to live in his flashy Point Piper mansion on the other side of Sydney Harbor rather than move to Kirribilli House.

Howard, a former lawyer, married his wife Janette, who was also a member of the Liberal Party, in 1971, and they are parents to daughter Melanie and sons Tim and Richard.

The clip was played on the ABC Of special with actor David Wenham interviewing John Howard as an 83-year-old former prime minister, who won four elections, to commemorate the national broadcaster's 90th anniversary (the former prime minister is pictured in 2019 wearing the then NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian)

The clip was played on the ABC Of special with actor David Wenham interviewing John Howard as an 83-year-old former prime minister, who won four elections, to commemorate the national broadcaster’s 90th anniversary (the former prime minister is pictured in 2019 wearing the then NSW Prime Minister Gladys Berejiklian)

They lived in their home in Wollstonecraft when Mr Howard became the Liberal member of Bennelong in 1974.

The electorate then covered Sydney’s lower north coast before subsequent redistributions moved the seat further west.

When Malcolm Fraser came to power as Prime Minister in 1975, Howard became Minister of Consumer Affairs before becoming Australia’s Younger Treasurer in November 1977.

In the interview with Wenham, Mr Howard admitted that after he lost his seat to Labor’s Maxine McKew in 2007 when the coalition was ousted from office, he and his wife accidentally sat in the back seat of a car and forgot that she is no longer a driver.

“It happened once, yes,” he said.

“We used to sit in the back a bit together, forgetting, because I was entitled to a driver for a long time.

“But we’ve adapted quite well.”

John Howard, a former lawyer, married his wife Janette, who was also a member of the Liberal Party, in 1971, and they are parents to daughter Melanie, and sons Tim and Richard.

John Howard, a former lawyer, married his wife Janette, who was also a member of the Liberal Party, in 1971, and they are parents to daughter Melanie, and sons Tim and Richard

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