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Howard and history

June 29th, 2007

Inevitably, after 11 years in office, Howard’s dramatic intervention in indigenous communities is going to be judged on his past history. The question is, which history. He has made a couple of moves, like introducing gun control after Port Arthur (over the objections of many of his own, or at least the Nationals’ supporters) and intervening in East Timor (against the will of a significant segment of the foreign policy establishment) that show him at his best, responding to an obvious need. Those are the precedents he’d like to draw on.

Against that, there’s children overboard, the $10 billion water plan earlier this year, the Iraq war and his long history, going back twenty years or more, of playing to racist sentiment when it seemed politically appealing. Until I see evidence that this proposal has serious planning behind it, and, equally importantly, serious money (unmet needs amounting to billions have already been pointed out) I’m putting the latest move in the latter category.

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  1. Peter Evans
    June 29th, 2007 at 21:58 | #1

    The serious planning happened in the office of some lobbyist for the mining industry, because this whole “plan” is all about seizing land access rights from land councils in the NT (they can’t touch the states) and letting in the miners. It’s a PR campaign that’s much more winnable than openly saying, “let’s talk mining with the land councils”. Supremely clever example of business leveraging into government (who happen to need a mighty big headline grabbing diversion and wedge), and so far very well planned. They must be little annoyed at one of the triggers (Sacred Children report writers) coming out against the plan, but that’ll disappear in the noise.

    -peter

  2. Hal9000
    June 29th, 2007 at 23:01 | #2

    I don’t think the Timor thing can be taken as an example of Howard the Bold Leader. He did everything he could to avoid action but was forced into it by the irresistible force of public opinion.

    The gun laws caper is in my view the only solid example, some one month after his election eleven years ago. Howard being Howard, however, there was undoubtedly a political calculus at work even here. You might recall Keating’s failed election slogan was ‘Leadership’, so Howard would have been desperate to find something to prove Keating (and, it must be remembered, many of his own troops who had lingering doubts from the 1980s) wrong.

    Howard is the man who cheerfully retailed defamatory lies about children overboard and then equally cheerfully locked those same traumatised children up for years before grudgingly conceding they were in fact refugees. The notion he now is acting out of compassion is really quite fanciful: since when has he ever demonstrated that emotion?

    Finally, if he’s so disturbed about the NT report, why is he wilfully ignoring most of its findings and recommendations, while implementing a whole raft of authoritarian measures designed to limit Aboriginal autonomy and property rights that nobody has recommended? Trusting John Howard to act in good faith is an act of folly equivalent to investing good money in a scheme marketed by Peter Foster.

  3. June 30th, 2007 at 00:20 | #3

    Despite my deep initial cynicism, it’s only deepened since.

    I can understand, and possibly even forgive, an initial, mostly clueless ‘plan’, but in the week and half since, the Govt has had enough time to talk to a few relevant people and come up with some real policy announcements, eg. addressing the chronic housing shortage, long term economic development, boosting police and teacher numbers in remote areas, on-the-ground alcohol rehab services, etc etc. Let’s face it, there are a zillion options that they could have gone for and would have come out of it smelling of roses.

    Instead, the initial announcement has been steadily eroding. The Health Minister, incredibly, has only made one significant foray into the chaos (that I know of), and that was to shoot down the ‘compulsory health check’ idea. Now we’re left with the army (WTF is that about?), a small contingent of interstate Police tourists and the counterproductive permits/lease ideas.

    Perhaps this was another well-thought out policy that not even the Cabinet was informed of before the press conference, and there is now dissention in the ranks. Peter Costello seems to be staying well out of it for someone who was wanting to display his broader policy credentials just last year. I can imagine his contribution might have been – ‘keep your paws off my budget surplus’. Would certainly explain why Gen Brough is desperate to avoid any talk at the moment of long-term planning or the housing crises (at least before the election).

  4. June 30th, 2007 at 00:38 | #5

    Michael, the Army are only there to provide logistical support – ie accomodation and catering in tents for public servants, etc. Though the image of “sending in the Army” was obviously carefully chosen for the PR value.

  5. June 30th, 2007 at 00:41 | #6

    And Cabinet was informed. Remember Howard claiming the Cabinet meeting was “deeply moving”?

    How much notice and whether process was followed in terms of allowing comments on the submission is clearly another question. That might also account for Costello’s reticence. Though, on the other hand, Henry’s speech at Pearson’s conference might suggest Treasury involvement in some of the thinking, if that’s the appropriate word.

  6. Hal9000
    June 30th, 2007 at 08:51 | #7

    Good article by Ramsay in today’s SMH documenting the history of Howard deliberately ignoring and personally burying similar reports about abuse of Aboriginal children in the past. It might also be remembered that one of Howard & co’s concerns with the ABC was that it spent too much air time devoted to Aboriginal issues. The idea of an election eve Damascene conversion of such a deeply cynical and mean man whose career has been built around hostility to people whose dreams aren’t similarly petty-bourgeois is preposterous.

    No, the only thing Howard has ever found ‘deeply moving’ is the thought of becoming a private citizen back in Wollstonecraft. The only vision he’s ever had for Australia is of a country with himself as Prime Minister.

  7. BilB
    June 30th, 2007 at 12:32 | #8

    That’s a bit cutting, Hal9000. Hilarious, but cutting….And very quoteable.
    The “Howard vision”.

  8. Tom N.
    June 30th, 2007 at 13:58 | #9

    THE BOY WHO CRIED WOLF

    Few if any outside Howard himself would know how genuine are his publicly-stated motives. I found his demeanour in the initial Lateline interview to be not unconvincing, but he has too much form to warrant the benefit of any doubt.

    Still, whatever his motives, the question now is whether his plan will ‘work’. Again I have my doubts. However, I also think that the hysterical reaction from the usual suspects, running hot in the media, will probably be bolstering his position out there in the marginal burbs, rather than damaging his electoral chances.

  9. Paulkelly
    June 30th, 2007 at 15:16 | #10

    I’m not sure he “intervened” in East Timor. The Americans twisted the Indonesian govt’s arm to “invite” the UN force in. Howard presumably agitated for such a thing.

    “Intervening” would have meant declaring war on Indonesia.

  10. ange
    June 30th, 2007 at 19:26 | #11

    Warren Mundine published an article today stating that, irrespective of his political differences with Howard, he supports the action.
    Warren is correct..
    I find it troubling, as does Warren and Noel Pearson, to see all the cynics such as Quiggin willing the initiative to fail, seeking to belittle it and portray it as election-driven. The issue here, fellow Australians, is not whether those of particular political persuasion hate Howard, the issue is about making this initiative work. That will require Aboriginal people signing on and participating in the inevitable major generation-changing task ahead.
    And that requires active participation not from the tired leaders of the past (like Lowitja O’Donoghue, now embittered and a malign influence), nor the corrupt ATSIC mob (like Pat Turner the famous ATSIC final CEO hogging the media – what was her shining history in this matter, and that of the ATSIC gang stealing and wasting money), nor the lazy leftist posturers like Larissa Berendt. It requires new generation aboriginal leaders ready to say ‘enough is enough’ and take a leadership role. Like Noel Pearson. Warren Mundine. Pat Dodson.
    So, cynics, I don’t care about your negativity. I don’t care to re-fight Iraq. Frankly my dear I don’t give a damn about Tampa in this context. I am prepared to discuss the nature of the action. I recognise it is risky. But I remember Howard introducing gun control, having a lot of hysterical farmers and shooters being negative, but he prevailed.
    I think there are some significant shifts at work here which have finally seen action:
    1.This is about Mal Brough, and his energetic and legitimate desire for action interacting with Howard’s recognition of the need for action. When the history of this is written, we’ll see that Brough is a major new force in the Australian government aboriginal response, cutting through in his military style all the junk and detritus of many prior Labor and Liberal ministers for aboriginal affairs. So Brough, who we know is energetic, prevailed.
    2.The other major change leading to this change is the end of the history wars. As many have noted, the history wars were in full flight when Howard entered power and any action at all then would have been attacked by the ATSIC corrupt group with their fingers in the till and the lefty black armbandits, the Kevin Reynolds and Robert Manne black armbandits. We now have Australia largely clear-eyed and recognising that black armbandits cannot prevent our need for action. And the Federal government now sees that Australians (as mad as hell and not going to take the aboriginal crimes any more) are ready for action and will deliver it.
    This is about tectonic shifts in the politics of Australia.
    So cynics and small-minded folks, let’s consider this not from a mean-spirited narrow prism and let’s understand what’s really happening.

  11. jquiggin
    June 30th, 2007 at 20:58 | #12

    Thanks for these constructive comments, ange. I appreciate in particular your suggestions to bring a peaceful end to the history wars through the unconditional surrender of all those who disagree with you.

  12. Jill Rush
    June 30th, 2007 at 23:56 | #13

    It is interesting Ange that you note a tectonic shift whilst deriding influential female leaders and hyping up blokes who are so concerned that it is Howard’s way or nothing. I can support that Howard has worked hard to cut women out of positions of influence which could be seen as a tectonic shift.

    Unfortunately the tectonic shift is yet to occur as we have seen lots of sound and fury but at this point they still signify nothing. That the women understand this whilst the men are full of testosterone means that all of the energy in the world is unlikely to achieve the stated outcomes of getting rid of child abuse.It is like those lost in the bush – energetically walking in circles but getting nowhere.

    This is not willing the Howard proposal to fail it is pointing out that significant changes in approach are required to make it work. People want it to work. It is just that those with experience know that the approach of Brough and Howard is all about short term headlines and little about the long term protection of women and children.

    Howard will go down as the Children overboard PM.

    Of course if he is reelected he will go down as a PM who terrorised half of the population.

    There is no doubt that our freedoms have been curtailed and war declared on many in society – war on unionists, war on terror, war on drugs, history wars, culture wars, war on refugees in leaky boats, real wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and now war on child abuse.

    What a shame that so many were premised on false evidence and in hindsight are mistakes. This war offers no hope that children will get the help they need.

  13. June 30th, 2007 at 23:57 | #14

    Your a hoot, Ange dear, surely you mean Henry Reynolds not Kevin.

  14. SJ
    June 30th, 2007 at 23:58 | #15

    ange Says:

    Blah blah blah.

    ange, paid advocates like yourself don’t carry much weight here in the reality based community.

  15. July 1st, 2007 at 00:20 | #16

    Thanks Ange. I hope you’re a fast typer, ’cause that was a whole lot of words to say precious little.

    A reminder of the context of JH’s “national emergency” from Andrew Bartlett, talking 2 days before Howards ill-conceived press conference.

    “One of the aspects I find frustrating about the [media] response is that, as the report itself makes clear, there is not a lot in it that is actually new. I have noted comments from [co-author] Dr Judy Atkinson about a report she wrote in 1989 for the national inquiry on violence, a report she wrote in 1991 for [the Department of] Prime Minister and Cabinet, and a report she and others did on violence, including sexual violence, in communities in Queensland.

    “The situation [the latest report] details is extraordinary, but it is not extraordinary in the sense there is anything particularly new. The big issue here is, why is this still happening? Why has the situation not changed? Why are we having another report with another round of shock-horror headlines, as though this is some brand new discovery? Why are we continuing to fail? Why is it that indigenous communities in the Territory and many other parts of the country are continuing to fail?

    The report emphasises there are no simple fixes, and it estimates it will take at least 15 years to make significant inroads into the crisis. Even though it says it will take 15 years, I would remind you that more than 15 years ago we had reports saying not very much different from what is in this report. So these issues are not new, and acting as though this is some sudden, great exposé does not help …”

  16. mugwump
    July 1st, 2007 at 05:37 | #17

    Hear, hear ange.

    Forget the Howard haters: they know only one tune and know only how to carp. Although they claim to care, almost none of them have put in the hard yards needed to actually influence events.

    Listen to the real leaders: Pearson, Mundine, Dodson, Brough and Howard himself.

  17. zebbidies spring
    July 1st, 2007 at 10:51 | #18

    Both Timor and gun restrictions were supported by overwhelming majorities of the public, so you can’t argue that he went out on limb bravely to do this. He would have suffered politically if he had done nothing.

    Ange and mugwump – obviously what needs to happen is that we sack the Aboriginals we have and employ a new, more flexible lot on AWAs.

    Incidentally, why have all the right-wing commentators suddenly become activist do-gooders? Didn’t they use that as a term of abuse for the entire history of the internet? Is it another instance of that all-to-common modern conservative disease of moral relativism? Is there indeed anything that Howard could do that they wouldn’t strangle their own philosophical children to support?

    Is four rhetorical questions in a row a good look? Probably not, but I’m in IT.

  18. Doug
    July 1st, 2007 at 12:08 | #19

    All the evidence suggests that there has been the same quantum of planning and thoughtful policy development for this exercise that there was in developing the Murray Darling plan.

    Some of the unintended consequences are helpful – particularly the highlighting of NT governments of all political persuasions ripping off funding intended for servicesfor indigenous communities.

    EVidence of the adhoc nature of this exercise?

    Absolute silence from the Minister for Community Services and CLP Senator for the Northern Territory who might on a couple of grounds have been expected to be involved.

    The exercise of sending all these public servants to find out what is happening in the community – why wasn’t this information gathered using the existing government Indigenous Coordination Centrs that wre established acrsoo the country following the dismemberment of ATSIC to insure a coordinated, whole of government approach to indigenous communities?

    Is there duplication here or were the ICC’s another major government initiative in indigenous affairs only a couple of years ago not working?

  19. July 1st, 2007 at 12:13 | #20

    Yeah, those damn Howard haters!! They use to go on and on about the need to address Aboriginal disadvantage, but Howard knew they were just ‘blackarmbandits’. The ABC devoted time to the issue – ‘obsession’ cried the now converts.

    Having stonewalled for 11 years, Howard now wants to play the hero doing the hard hards “to actually influence events”.

    What a crazy world!

  20. mugwump
    July 1st, 2007 at 19:06 | #21

    Incidentally, why have all the right-wing commentators suddenly become activist do-gooders?

    Umm, we’ve always been do-gooders. In fact, you could take that as a defining difference between the right and left: the right does good, the left prefers to discuss how someone else should be doing good.

  21. zebbidies spring
    July 1st, 2007 at 19:38 | #22

    the right does good, the left prefers to discuss how someone else should be doing good.

    Hmmm…my experience is that the right takes credit for anything good that happens, boasts about it immoderately and tries to use it as evidence of their bona fides when they try and launch some scheme which somehow ends up benefiting the usual suspects.

    Leaping to do something about the dreadful situation in the NT, while taking the opportunity to gain control over authorising mining leases on Aboriginal land springs to mind.

    I’d just like to say it’s the right who is trying to micromanage the NT and its people in this case, not some neo-Trotskyist beard (which in no way should be read as having anything to do with PQ)

  22. July 1st, 2007 at 23:01 | #23

    Doug,

    In my work area we call the ICC’s the Indigenous Unco-ordination Centres.

    They make ATSIC look like a bunch of geniuses.

  23. mugwump
    July 2nd, 2007 at 05:58 | #24

    If you’ve ever heard Mal Brough, he is deadly serious about fixing this problem, and is most certainly not hide-bound by ideology. So let’s just wait and see, hey?

  24. Andrew
    July 2nd, 2007 at 09:11 | #25

    Frankly JQ – I think you and many commentators are missing the point if you think that mainstream Australia will judge the Howard years on any of the issues that you’ve raised.

    the Tampa, refugees, Aboriginal affairs, gun control, Iraq etc etc…… all interesting points of debate for the blogosphere but mainstream Australia will probably look back on the Howard years with a warm inner glow as a period of unprecedented economic growth and prosperity – the era when the 42″ plasma screen became affordable to the average household!

  25. jstrocch
    July 2nd, 2007 at 13:14 | #26

    Pr Q says:

    Against that, there’s children overboard, the $10 billion water plan earlier this year, the Iraq war and his long history, going back twenty years or more, of playing to racist sentiment when it seemed politically appealing.

    Until I see evidence that this proposal has serious planning behind it, and, equally importantly, serious money (unmet needs amounting to billions have already been pointed out) I’m putting the latest move in the latter category.

    Howard sometimes plays to conservative authoritarian and nationalist sentiments. Which is not the same as “racist”, at least for professional scholars dealing in plain English.

    Howard is a funny “racist” though, helping to liberate Afghans from the Taliban, E Timorese from the TNI and giving out bucketloads of money for the Aceh tsunami victims. He must really be raking in the racist vote with that work.

    Then there is the anti-people smuggling policy. No more people smuggled, no more people-smuggled people boats foundering and no more coloured people drowning in their hundreds. Racists must love that.

    He has also bumped up the number of NESB immigration rate to record levels. Gittins remarks on the dark tone of Howard’s immigration policy:

    There isn’t a predominance of white faces. In 2001-02, a third of people came from North-East Asia (particularly China and Hong Kong), 17 per cent came from South-East Asia (particularly Malaysia and Indonesia), 8 per cent from South Asia (particularly India) and 5 per cent from the Middle East (particularly Lebanon and Turkey). That’s the best part of two-thirds.

    Obviously canny play of the racist card there, the old devil.

    And now he is stepping in with law and order to stop rock spiders (some of whom are white) from molesting Aboriginal children. I can see how his neo-Nazis support base must love that.

    Back in the real world: Top-end people, excepting those bogged in the fever-swamps of Howard-hatred, who have real world experience of the problems of remote Aboriginals welcome Howard’s conservative authoritarian nationalism.

    People very closely to me, who started out conventional left-liberal on this issue, have been turned into moderate fascists on account of the “war-zone” created by libertarian and self-determination policies.

    Aboriginals are experiencing an acute crisis of anomie brought on as indigeneity gives way to modernity. This is the failure of institutions to bring about the individual internalisation of rules.

    They need law and order to survive. Howard is finally giving it. His policy will do unambiguous good, irrespective of the outlook on money and jobs.

    I think Pr Q has a cheek trying to spin Howard’s new policy as some racist ploy. HC Coomb’s Cultural Leftists has been flailing away at this problem for generations, only making things worse. Comparisons with GW Bush’s Martial Right policies in Iraq are instructive.

    Its way past time for Leftists to fess up and look at the failure of their own policies, rather than go the easy way and blame Howard.

  26. jstrocch
    July 2nd, 2007 at 13:34 | #27

    If we are going to look at Howard’s record we might do well to take off the Howard-hatred prism, and look at it clearly without illusions Left or Right.

    1. “Iraq War”: a national security success. Token presence. very few ADF casualties, US alliance strenghthened.

    2. “Kids Overboard”: a border protection success. The boats have stopped coming, people have stopped drowning. The majority are now relaxed and comfortable about a looser policy towards authenticated refugees.

    3. “Alert not Alarmed”: a cultural identity success. Since Bali the AFP have been cracking down on home-grown terrorist cells that have festered under strong multiculturalism in other countries. No terrorist attacks against the AUS homeland, so far.

    4. “$10 billion water plan earlier this year”: an ecological sustainability success. I am tempted to say “late run and cheap fix, well timed to coincide with the breaking of the drought”!

    Attempts at surveying Howard’s record are going to be falling from the blogosphere as leaves in autumn over the next few months. Can we please check ideology at the door and stick to hard facts?

  27. July 2nd, 2007 at 14:56 | #28

    Isn’t it the case that by 1990 no child would live in poverty? Thats what Hawke promised at the time. Perhaps that was also with one eye on the polls.

    I’m not sure why it is acceptable to exploit a climate of fear to impose gun controls but not acceptable to implement other dumb policies via the same means. Surely the use of emotive circumstances to ram through reform without significant well reasoned debate and well substantiated justification is always an undesirable abuse of democratic process.

  28. Andrew
    July 2nd, 2007 at 15:32 | #29

    But you’re missing the point Terje…. gun control was good policy but zero tolerance law and order for aboriginals is bad….. hmmmm have I got that the right way around? hmmmm…. yes I think so….. so anyway…. the end justifies the means for gun control….. or did I mean the end justifies the means for better law and order in aboriginal townships…. I’m so confused…. what is my idealogy again?

  29. jquiggin
    July 2nd, 2007 at 17:23 | #30

    “Its way past time for Leftists to fess up and look at the failure of their own policies, rather than go the easy way and blame Howard”

    Howard has had 11 years to demonstrate the superior performance of “practical reconciliation”. For the last three years he hasn’t had to worry about ATSIC, and for most of that time he’s had control of the Parliament. What he’s come up with is more of the same – even the stuff about sending in the army is a reheat of policies that have been going ever since 1996.

    Undoubtedly there have been plenty of failures by everyone involved, but it’s a bit OTT for the Howard supporters in this thread to be announcing a new beginning.

    More generally, Jack, I think it’s time you got over Keating. I didn’t like him much either, but I don’t worry about it these days.

  30. Jill Rush
    July 2nd, 2007 at 17:24 | #31

    Terje,
    There is no doubt that the wording of Hawke’s “no child shall live in poverty was clumsy and ill considered”.

    On the positive side – he did try and put in real policies which had a lot of success. He increased the amount non resident parents paid towards the support of their children having identified the sole parent family as the most in poverty and with minimal support at that time from the non resident parent.

    The other policy for sole parents was the JET program which gave the sole parents who entered into it excellent starts into the work force. A forerunner of many employment programs.

    The other main efforts were to increase child care and to put into place family benefits which were paid fortnightly to allow budgetting on a manageable basis for food shelter etc rather than leave it all til the end of the financial year which benefitted the rich not the poor.

    Bob Hawke took a lot of flak for the statement but he didn’t go around grandstanding on his achievements. There is no doubt that he improved the life situation of many poor children because of his announcements and policies and deserves more credit for trying as he certainly didn’t try to steal land under the disguise of welfare for children.

  31. wilful
    July 2nd, 2007 at 17:57 | #32

    Oh jack (at #28), thanks for the advice about facts. I noted how you used them so effectively. Really swept us away with the objective clarity there.

  32. Andrew
    July 3rd, 2007 at 07:50 | #33

    Jill,

    11 years of economic prosperity under Howard/Costello has done more to alleviate poverty amongst children than any of the minor initiatives that Hawke introduced.

    Yes there are still pockets of under-achievers or severly disadvantaged (e.g. aboriginals) who have been left behind, and yes the gap between rich and poor has probably widened – leftys gnash teeth over that but the reality is that most Australians are financially better off today than 11 years ago and less children live in poverty (on any sensible definition of poverty – not some relative measure).

  33. July 3rd, 2007 at 09:01 | #34

    One of the new (back then) Howard Govt’s favourite attacks on Labors record re: Indigenous affairs was that after 13 years in office and spending bilions, there was a 17 yr gap in life expectancy. After 11 yrs of Howard “practical reconciliation”, it’s still 17 years.

    Andrew I just love the “leftys gnash teeth over that but the reality is that most Australians are financially better off today than 11 years ago”.

    Yes the irrational “leftys” (whatever they are) wanting everyone to live in poverty. Aren’t you just a bit embarrassed to write this garbage??

  34. Andrew
    July 3rd, 2007 at 09:13 | #35

    No Michael – that wasn’t what I said. I said the “leftys” gnash their teeth about unequal distribution of economic prosperity – of course no-one wants everyone to live in poverty – why would you claim that?

  35. wilful
    July 3rd, 2007 at 09:28 | #36

    11 years of economic prosperity under Howard/Costello

    Funny, most people consider our long boom to have started in 1991-2. Good on Treasurer Costello for that one!

  36. mugwump
    July 4th, 2007 at 02:13 | #37

    Its way past time for Leftists to fess up and look at the failure of their own policies, rather than go the easy way and blame Howard.

    I don’t believe I have ever seen a lefty admit failure. I suppose that makes sense: the right is generally interested in outcomes, and is therefore interested in learning from mistakes.
    For the left it is the intent that matters, not the result. Hence lefties cannot admit failure because they wrongly think such failure is a failure of intent, rather than merely a failure of outcome. (Failures of intent are very rare in democratic public policy. Even Iraq is not a failure of intent).

  37. wilful
    July 4th, 2007 at 10:59 | #38

    I don’t believe I have ever seen a lefty admit failure.

    Well I’ll admit it: the war on Iraq has been a total cock-up.

  38. Stephen L
    July 4th, 2007 at 14:14 | #39

    Jack you left out 18 years of staunch defence of Apartheid. So strong was his support that he was willing to denounce his beloved Australian Cricket Board when they banned the rebel tourists.

    At the time he covered this up with the figleaf that sport was somehow “above politics”. The credibility of this was low at the time, but has become lower now that he has (quite rightly in my view) opposed the cricket tour of Zimbabwe.

    Throw in putting non-white children behind razor wire, mid-80s description of Asian immigrants as “divisive”, refusal to even visit an Indigenous community for the first two years of his government and the pattern is pretty clear.

  39. jstrocch
    July 4th, 2007 at 20:23 | #40

    Stephen L Says: July 4th, 2007 at 2:14 pm

    Throw in putting non-white children behind razor wire, mid-80s description of Asian immigrants as “divisive�, refusal to even visit an Indigenous community for the first two years of his government and the pattern is pretty clear.

    The pattern is a fabrication of fever-swamped minds, unhinged by Howard-hatred.

    The claim that Howard is a “racist” is another example of the delusional thinking that has deformed Leftism over the past generation.

    Arabs are Caucasian. He described high rates of Asian immigration as divisive. Which has turned out to be right in a way, although not quite the way he expected.

    HOward and North East Asians get on just fine, nowadays. And Howard has encouraged more non-European immigrants and non-European guest workers than any other prime minister in history.

    Howard-hatred needs to be on the PBS as an illness requiring prescription drugs.

  40. Jill Rush
    July 4th, 2007 at 21:10 | #41

    Andrew,
    There are huge levels of childhood poverty in Australia today – so bad that the Howard government is considering a policy to take away welfare benefits from parents who drink and gamble. It won’t solve the problems. Poverty hasn’t been alleviated it has become more widespread and uglier for children.

    The real evidence is that as the Howard years started, homeless people weren’t dying in parks as there have been this winter and beggars were unknown to the streets of the main cities – a common sight today. Children are among the homeless.

    It is not a good thing to have extremes of wealth. The United States is a miserable model to be following. Howard’s legacy is a less tolerant, more selfish, nastier Australia.

  41. mugwump
    July 4th, 2007 at 21:46 | #42

    beggars were unknown to the streets of the main cities

    Rubbish. Bludging panhandlers have been on the streets as long as I can remember (25+ years).

    It is not a good thing to have extremes of wealth.

    Since the bludgers/druggies/drifters will never make themselves valuable enough to society to earn a substantial living, the only way to outlaw extremes of wealth is to outlaw wealth itself. That worked out really well for the communists.

    The United States is a miserable model to be following.

    You ever lived in the US Jill? In my experience Americans (of nearly all stripes) are far happier and more optimistic than your average inner-city Aussie Lefty.

    Howard’s legacy is a less tolerant, more selfish, nastier Australia.

    Howard has presided over a massive increase in handouts for those with children who do work. But, as usual, facts are irrelevant to a hardened Howard-hater.

  42. July 5th, 2007 at 00:18 | #43

    The beggers on the streets of Sydney seem a lot more pleasant and no more numereous than they did when I first came here 19 years ago. They are still predominantly male.

  43. wilful
    July 5th, 2007 at 11:21 | #44

    In my experience Americans (of nearly all stripes) are far happier and more optimistic than your average inner-city Aussie Lefty.

    Isn’t anecdotal evidence wonderful? While teh following measurements certainly have problems, they sure beat your observations: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Satisfaction_with_Life_Index

    USA at 23, Australia at 26. But look who’s taking out top place: damn socialist Danes!

  44. Andrew
    July 5th, 2007 at 15:52 | #45

    Jill,

    I’d be interested to see some stats on that. Do you have any data on the rate of homelessness/deaths on the streets? Any stats on the number of children living in poverty (a proper measure of poverty – not some relative measure)?

  45. July 5th, 2007 at 20:00 | #46

    Yesterday I shared a positive experience of living in a remote aboriginal community in my new plog “Labor View from Broome” http://laborview.blogspot.com/
    I have decided not to get angry any more. Just to enjoy sinking John Howard’s crew.

  46. Stephen L
    July 5th, 2007 at 21:07 | #47

    Wow, Jack. Your case against Howard’s racism is that technically speaking Arabs are Caucasian. Of course many scientists argue that race is a concept that has no meaning for humans – we’re too interbred to have meaningful races. By that logic the KKK aren’t racists.

    The fact is that Howard has at least 30 times in his careers acted in ways which clearly disadvantaged “non-whites” relative to the population of European descent. Certainly some of these could be attributed to other factors – national security, penny pinching etc. In a lifetime of decisions its inevitable that a few such cases will come up.

    However, the sheer number of cases, and the lack of alternative motives for some (specifically the way he carried water for most brutal aspects of the South African regime) makes the pattern pretty clear.

    Sometimes other factors take precedence – he changed his mind on immigration from eastern Asia for a whole variety of factors, but if he’d had his way Mandela and not one of the limited advances Aboriginal Australians have achieved over the last 40 years would have occurred.

  47. Jill Rush
    July 5th, 2007 at 21:28 | #48

    Mugwump – the term panhandlers is American – are you sure that you haven’t confused the Australian experience with the American? In my part of Australia beggars were unknown ten years ago and yet now are appearing in new areas where they have never been before. As for the American experience I am sure there are many who are not enjoying the American dream. It is a country with great divides between the wealthy and the poor.

    Andrew – your qualifier shows that there is no evidence you would accept about children in poverty – despite the Howard government finding that its policies have not helped many citizens and their children.

    The outraged right are a sure sign that the country has less civility now than 11 years ago.
    Another of Howard’s legacies – a country divided.

  48. mugwump
    July 6th, 2007 at 01:05 | #49

    Wilful: as the US ranks ahead of Oz in that study, it would seem to support my observations. Particularly given that I am comparing Americans as a whole with the average “inner-city Aussie lefty” – a particularly miserable representative of an otherwise sunny and optimistic nation.

    Jill: whatever you want to call them, in Australia most of them beg because they don’t want to work. That’s fine – their choice. But I don’t give them any money; I prefer to save that for more worthy causes.

  49. wilful
    July 6th, 2007 at 10:03 | #50

    My god your use of facts is dazzling.

    Can I ask what exactly defines an ‘inner city lefty? From Melbourne experience, is Footscray inner? How about Thurnbury? I mean, I would just like a bit more precision here. And how left do you have to be to left in your classification?

    As for miserableness, well I’ll accept that you’re talking pure crap there, since it’s difficult to measure.

    As for beggars, in inner Melbourne 15 years ago all the deros were old men with mental illnesses and alcohol problems, the number of street kids asking for money was insignificant. The situation now is very different – a lot more of them and they’re a lot lot younger. Of course, the heroin problems of the late 90s didn’t help, but it is still much higher than 15 years ago. Something has happened to make this change, and the Federal and State governments have to cop some of the blame. Unless it’s just the fact that kids these days are lazy bastards who wouldn’t know an honest days work if it hit them (a caricature of your beliefs).

  50. mugwump
    July 7th, 2007 at 01:37 | #51

    Ah yes, the guv’n'mint must be to blame.

    As for miserable lefties: look all around you wilful. Look in the mirror. Are you happy? Optimistic? If not, I suggest your anti-humanity, anti-progress, anti-wealth-creation, anti-capitalist politics have a lot to do with it.

  51. wilful
    July 7th, 2007 at 16:09 | #52

    Are you happy? Optimistic? If not, I suggest your anti-humanity, anti-progress, anti-wealth-creation, anti-capitalist politics have a lot to do with it.

    And if I am happy? And my friends, which you would describe as ‘lefties’, if they’re happy, what then? It’s such utter bulls**t that you’re spouting, I can’t believe you take yourself seriously.

  52. mugwump
    July 8th, 2007 at 00:17 | #53

    wilful, if you and your lefty friends are so happy and optimistic, why do you complain so much about the state of the world?

    I can accept that you may be an exception, but the vast majority of lefties I encounter actually believe the world is in a miserable state, and that capitalism is largely to blame.

    Of course on both counts they couldn’t be more wrong: the human race is better off than it has ever been, largely due to the wealth-creating effects of free trade and capitalism.

  53. jquiggin
    July 8th, 2007 at 18:44 | #54

    I can’t say, visiting the average RWDB site, or even reading rightwing commenters on this blog, that the general tone could be described as one of contentment. Even with their side in government in both Australia and the US, they seem to find an awful lot to whinge about.

  54. mugwump
    July 11th, 2007 at 23:36 | #55

    Maybe we’re not so far apart as it seems, since on your own “failure to criticize constitutes endorsement” theory of public discourse, you apparently agree that

    the human race is better off than it has ever been, largely due to the wealth-creating effects of free trade and capitalism.

    Acknowledgment of that fact from prominent lefties such as your self is real progress.

  55. jquiggin
    July 12th, 2007 at 08:24 | #56

    Enough with the snark, mugwump. It just makes you look silly.

  56. Andrew
    July 12th, 2007 at 11:31 | #57

    Jill,

    No – I’m very open to facts. As the saying goes, “when the facts change….. ”

    Can you show me some stats about child poverty that show more kids are in poverty today than 11 years ago?

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