Howard loves to play little linguistic games. Read some of his transcripts, and you get a feel for how he likes to twist the words of his interviewer, make promises and commitments that sound grand but are completely empty beneath the edifice. He is a master in logic as well as politics, and he uses this to his advantage. It can be infuriating and make him look like he's dodging the question, but it's a game he loves to play.
The latest allegations relate back to what Howard knew and when regarding the children overboard (or not) on Tampa. The evidence appears pretty conclusive tht Howard had been told unambigiously that children had NOT in fact been thrown overboard, but still went on to parrot the disproven claim as if it was fact. Howard's linguistic gymnastics cannot save him from the popular and inescapable conclusion - John Howard Lies.
This disrespect for the truth will hurt Howard much more than previous accussions made against him. The reason? Truth is a value which is not just respected by his political opponents, who wouldn't vote for him anyway, it is also respected by his own side of politics. Previous accusations ("Howard's racist on refugees...", "Howard's a silly old fart...") only reinforced the views of those who already hated the guy, but did nothing to persuade soft-supporters or swingers. Playing fast and loose with the truth, however, and even your friends want to keep their distance.