While the question has not been answered, to his credit, this chap has made an honest attempt as follows:
Your email of 13 July 2008 to the Prime Minister, the Hon Kevin Rudd MP, concerning comments in media interviews has been passed to the Minister for Climate Change and Water, Senator the Hon Penny Wong. The Minister has asked me to thank you for you email and to reply on her behalf. I apologise for the delay in writing to you.
Recent media interviews where the Prime Minister has referred to Australia as the hottest, driest continent have been conducted in the context of discussing the impact of development on water management and climate change. Interpretations of key global temperature datasets by the National Climate Centre show that Australia is the hottest developed continent. Similarly, the National Climate Centre has interpreted data from the Global Precipitation Climatology Centre and this shows that Australia is the driest inhabited continent. The Bureau of Meteorology has also referred me to a separate study which shows Australia to have the lowest continental mean rainfall of all the inhabited continents (Willmott, CJ, Robeson, SM and Feddema JJ 1994. Estimating continental and terrestrial precipitation averages from rain-gauge networks. Int. J. Climatology, 14, 403-414.)
(Some poor bloke from the Department of the Environment)
MM's response to the response
1. This does not answer the question of where Kevin Rudd got his information that Australia is the hottest and driest continent - it is an attempt to justify it after he said it. It was a question to Kevin Rudd, not Penny Wong, or the Department of Environment.
2. It proves he is wrong. Saying Australia is the hottest developed continent, means the Department of the Environment acknowledges that developing continents - Africa, South America and Asia - all may be hotter. This means they acknowledge that Australia is only hotter than the developed continents of North America and Europe - a ridiculous proposition that we come first out of three. It acknowledges Antarctica is drier - thus, Australia is not the hottest, or the driest continent - let alone both.
3. It seems to imply that the context of the lie makes it okay: WTF?
4. Kevin most often said "hottest and driest" not "hottest, driest" - it makes a difference.
5. Kevin Rudd has scarcely ever (only once I've seen) used the words "inhabited continent" and never "developed continent" despite spouting the "Australia is the hottest and driest continent" line in at least five media interviews, including on Sixty Minutes. He lied, he misled, he has not corrected, and he has continued to lie and mislead after I wrote to him. He said to Canberra radio on July 18:
"My job as Prime Minister is to look at these scientific facts, look at the economic facts, and then make a balanced judgment for the country’s long term future. And then when you look at the science facts and the economic facts on climate change, the fact that temperatures are going up and we’re already the world’s hottest and driest continent, and we’ll become, therefore, likely candidates to be the hardest and earliest hit by climate change..."
6. This is his Ministerial Code of Conduct including:
"Ministers are expected to be honest in the conduct of public office and take all reasonable steps to ensure that they do not mislead the public or the Parliament. It is a Minister's personal responsibility to ensure that any error or misconception in relation to such a matter is corrected or clarified, as soon as practicable and in a manner appropriate to the issues and interests involved."