Sorry mess for Howard over Aussie rate comments

John Howard, the prime minister of Australia, scrambled to clarify what appeared to be an apology for the central bank's decision to hike rates to 6.75%, the first-ever rise during an election campaign.

Howard, who will fight for a fifth term in office on 24 November, said that the media had misconstrued his reaction to the rate rise to imply the prime minister was apologising for the decision, over which he has no control: "I said that I was sorry [the rate hikes] occurred. I don't think I a