Having gained unchallenged control of Parliament John Howard is displaying the same kind of arrogance that helped to doom Paul Keating after 1993. The huge expenditure on IR ads is one example, as is the general tendency to ram legislation through with no significant scrutiny or debate.
An even more striking instance was on display in Brisbane over the weekend. Howard has long been under pressure to upgrade the Ipswich Motorway, and has now decided that only a partial upgrade will be offered. Nothing surprising in that, and there may be a defensible rationale, though none was offered.
What is surprising is that Howard decided to make the announcement in Brisbane at the Liberal party state conference, with no advance warning for the local Libs, who are, not surprisingly furious. Then, when the Liberal Lord Mayor of Brisbane protested, he apparently got a threatening dressing down from one of Howard’s minders. These stories dominated the local TV news over the weekend.
I can only assume Howard believed that he could pull the local Libs into line in supporting his views, and ignore the inevitable attacks from the State government. If so, he appears to have miscalculated.
I’m surprised by this. Howard warned his colleagues against this kind of thing after the 2004 election victory, but he doesn’t seem to have learned his own lesson.