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John Howard open thread

December 1st, 2007

This thread is designed to accommodate anyone who wants to write their own retrospective on John Howard. I won’t impose length limits, or do much moderation, but I remind everyone that the rules regarding civilised discussion remain in effect. If you don’t recall them, please read the comments policy, linked at the top of the page.

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  1. December 1st, 2007 at 10:03 | #1

    John who?

  2. Philg
    December 1st, 2007 at 10:22 | #2

    LOL Ken.
    A week later does anyone care? I’m glad I don’t, he’s gone and good riddance.

  3. Jill Rush
    December 1st, 2007 at 10:30 | #3

    The laugh of the week was Lowitja O’Donahue who referred to Mr Howard as “What’s his name?”.

  4. David Allen
    December 1st, 2007 at 10:50 | #4

    Status: Unprosecuted war criminal

  5. Fred Argy
    December 1st, 2007 at 10:52 | #5

    On the kinder side, I found Howard to be a very courteous and naturally friendly person. His ability to remember people’s names and go out of his way to say hello to them was quite heart-warming. He was also extremely intelligent and one of the most able communicators of all our prime ministers (able to speak succinctly and in the Australian vernacular without ever sounding arrogant). I don’t miss him at all because he was leading us down the wrong path (for the reasons JQ mentioned) but he was nonetheless a remarkable man.

  6. December 1st, 2007 at 10:53 | #6

    You are all wrong.

    John Howard is the 2nd longest serving Prime Minister, and if one is a political junkie (ie, most who visit this site) this makes him the 2nd most successful Prime Minister.

    Getting elected & getting votes = the most measurable definition of success in politics.

  7. Katz
    December 1st, 2007 at 11:07 | #7

    Howard fooled most of the people most of the time.

  8. Sir Henry Casingbroke
    December 1st, 2007 at 11:42 | #8

    It depends what you understand as success-as-prime-minister. Getting re-elected rather than achieving something lasting and worthwhile in office.

    If appeal to bigotry, racism and xenophobia are measures of success because they make a leader popular then John Howard is in the same league as Vladimir Putin – if not quite where Milosevich or Hitler were coming from).

  9. December 1st, 2007 at 11:43 | #9

    It is hard to believe that it is only a week since the election. The Howard government seems like it was back in the Stone Age or some dim distant memory. The changes in the political culture of Australia (In the space of a week!) have been impressive. What this week has highlighted was the gap that had grown between the expectations that big business has of the federal government and the praxis (dyspraxia in the end) of the Howard government. The neoconservative project that began with Thatcher and Reagan was about the use of state power to dismantle the political and economic architecture of the long boom. Big businesses tepid response to Workchoices (i.e. they said ‘thanks, that’s nice, but we are profitable enough to live without it and we have other things on our mind’) seemed to signal that that era was at an end. Why? Because big business interests now needs the state for other purposes. I have a hunch that we are in for an era where the state will be expected to play a much larger role in the organization of economy and society. The project of ‘atomising’ working class interests and breaking the organisational capacity of the labour movement no longer has precedence (In any case, organised labour in Australia is a ‘historically exhausted’ force- Ruddism is an expression of that exhaustion). Wedge politics, obsessions with marketising everything that moves has been replaced by a renewed discourse about ‘national unity’, ‘national planning’ and the central role of the state in preparing us for the era of big businesses’ version of the ‘Greenhouse Mode of Regulation’.

  10. Ikonoclast
    December 1st, 2007 at 12:04 | #10

    Joh Bjelke-Peterson didn’t make it to PM but his alter ego did. John Winston Howard was the same kind of politician as Joh; small minded, mean spirited, parochial, populist, jingoistic and a seeker of personal advantage above all else. In terms of international law, a good case could be made that John Howard was also guilty of war crimes and crimes against humanity. Howard’s legacy is that he has damaged Australia so severely and in so many respects that the nation may never recover.

    The damage to Australia’s international reputation may be repairable but it will take some considerable time. We participated in an illegal war, we condoned and conspired in torture and illegal internment of our own and foreign nationals. We treated refugees in the most criminally foul and inhumane manner. The damage to our institutions, our liberal democracy and the national psyche will be much more difficult to repair than our international reputation. We cannot as a people participate in blatantly immoral and cruel actions without being rendered to some degree desensitised and callous. We cannot legislate away democratic, legal and humanitarian protections without threatening such essential principles as the presumption of innocence, the right to natural justice, the right to a speedy and fair trail and above all the right to protection against the arbitrary power of the state.

    Every functionary of the state (public servants) and the public at large ought to realise that if we assist an agenda like that run by Howard and Bush then at some point that self-same arbitrary and tyrannous power which we help to build up will inevitably be turned against us and our families.

    The damage to our economy is no less than all the other damage done by the neo-conservative wreckers. Our current prosperity is superficial and the essential underpinnings of our economy are in a severely weakened and dilapidated state. A quick summary will remind us that $100 billion of public assets were sold for about $50 billion. This is a conservative estimate. This means $50 billion was stolen (legally but immorally) from the common wealth where it had served the common good and transferred to private ownership. Funding of essential infrastructure was choked so that our hospitals, schools and transport infrastructure have been allowed to run down badly.

    The ratification of “Kyoto� and the process of switching to non-carbon and alternative renewable energy sources have been seriously and perhaps disastrously delayed. The economy is distorted by policies and subsidies which suit the moneyed class and do further damage to our efforts to recast our energy posture. The indefensible negative gearing policy remains, along with salary sacrificing (legalised tax minimisation), dubious trust arrangements and subsidies for petrol, diesel, coal and natural gas consumption.

    Above all, Howard demonstrated and encouraged the same get rich now, rip it out, cut it down, burn it up, stuff anyone else and devil take the future attitude that Joh Bjelke did. These are the negative qualities which lie at the heart of the neo-conservative attitude; an attitude which strangely seems to go beyond greed, exulting in the wilful destruction of anything good possessed by those outside their own class and taking the most perverse and sadistic delight in inflicting cruelty as widely as possible. Sadly they and their cohorts may have taken the world beyond the point where basic humanity, the general environment and the world civilization dependent on both can be salvaged.

    The entire cabinet of the previous Australian government should be sent to The Hague for trial. Yes, they do deserve a fair trial, which is more than they gave to those they persecuted.

  11. December 1st, 2007 at 12:15 | #11

    Joh Bjelke-Petersen would have been a far more successful Prime Minister than John Howard.

    Joh was one of the few in politics (probably a handful in total over the past 40 yeasr) with a record of success before politics.

  12. December 1st, 2007 at 12:20 | #12

    Australia’s internation reputation is not damaged in the slightest.

    When you say “refugees” Ikonoclaust, you mean people who “lost” all their paperwork which would prove their refugee status, except for $10,000 for a boat passage. For these illegals, Australia was the 4th, sometimes 5th country of passage after their homeland. And an airfare costs only $1,000 – $2,000. Hmmm…

    I can understand the war in Iraq being unpopular by those with no moral compass. But to say it is “illegal”? And just who is declaring it “illegal”?

  13. Paul Wittwer
    December 1st, 2007 at 12:30 | #13

    Ikonoclast has said it best for me. I will add that being a very successful politician and prime minister, or a nice bloke with good manners mean zip in the face of his mis-deeds and he should be required to take consequences.
    In the absence of any stronger consequences, we should all try to at least forget him.

  14. Xander
    December 1st, 2007 at 12:30 | #14

    John Howard will eventually be remembered as one of our worst Prime Ministers. His treatment of climate change was an appalling disgrace, Iraq was a dreadful fiasco, and he demeaned our standing internationally. Our spiralling national debt will come back to bite us and our lack of an industry policy will be seen as a mistake. It was a perfect demonstration of someone who believes in power for power’s sake – and using that power to try and keep it from anyone else.

  15. December 1st, 2007 at 13:05 | #15

    John Howard will never understand why he lost this federal election. If Tony Abbot is to be believed, Howard really thinks we were all just bored and needed a change or words to that effect!
    However Australia better remember why it wanted him gone and express those reasons loudly or this incoming Labor government may repeat many of Howard’s mistakes. It seems that the only legislation it has committed to rollback is WorkChoices. What about those bloody awful sedition laws etc. It’s time to remind the new Rudd Government that IR was not the only issue which moved voters on 24 November.

  16. chrisl
    December 1st, 2007 at 13:13 | #16

    Xander: ” His treatment of climate change was an appalling disgrace ”

    Let us see what the other side do. There is talking and there is doing.Mr Rudd has to walk the fine line between putting a prohibitive tax on Carbon(to lessen it’s use) and not upsetting the 1 in 15 people who changed their vote at he election.

  17. December 1st, 2007 at 13:31 | #17

    Xander, John Howard will (deservedly or not) be remembered as one of the best prime ministers.

    Climate change is not something in which the rest of the world has shot ahead whilst Australia held back. We are all still under starter’s orders.

    Iraq ain’t over yet. All wars are fiascos of one sort or another.

    Our international standing has got some backbone under Howard. One of the few things he cannot be faulted on.

    Someone who believes in power for powers sake – and using that power to try and keep it from anyone else? And this make him different from Kevin Rudd, Paul Keating, Bob Hawke, Malcom Fraser, Gough Whitlam (& so on) HOW exactly?

    He is a politician fer chrissakes, what did you expect?

  18. John Greenfield
    December 1st, 2007 at 13:36 | #18

    Ikonoclast

    The damage to Australia’s international reputation may be repairable but it will take some considerable time.

    The claim of “damage to international reputation” is a straightforward empirical claim, but where is the evidence?

  19. Ikonoclast
    December 1st, 2007 at 13:51 | #19

    I must take issue with a point made by Steve at the Pub. Please note I am playing the ball not the man. Steve said “When you say “refugeesâ€? Ikonoclaust, you mean people who “lostâ€? all their paperwork which would prove their refugee status, except for $10,000 for a boat passage.”

    Point 1. It is the nature of being a genuine refugee that one is often fleeing from any or all of war, persecution, corruption, poverty, starvation or edidemic. These conditions are scarcely conducive to having all of one’s paperwork in order.

    Point 2 – It is true that not all refugees are as desperate as described in point 1 above. Nevertheless, their situation might well be that after selling up to flee they have some papers and maybe $10,000 to pay / bribe their way to a country of refuge.

    Point 3 – Desperate people do desperate things. Who’s to say that some wisely or unwisely do or don’t selcetively lose or withhold paperwork. People fleeing really dangerous regimes or feeling uncertain about the “welcome” from other countries may do exactly that. I wonder Steve at the Pub if you can imagine what you would do in such circumstances.

    Point 4 – Yes some refugees may be purely economic refugees or merely opportunists. However, you and I and we should not pre-judge it. Remember, the principle of innocent until if and when proven guilty. Take them in, treat them humanely and process their cases properly according to international refugee law.

    Point 5 – Treating people as in point 4 is actually cheaper. Punitive and incarcerating approches are hellishingly expensive. The notion that we will be seen as a soft touch is nonsense. With proper process under international law we can maintain integrity and a population policy whilst serving the cause of humanitarianism.

  20. P
    December 1st, 2007 at 13:59 | #20

    In The Age “Ministers sent report on Habib abuse” http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/ministers-sent-report-on-habib-abuse/2007/11/30/1196394625496.html illustrates John Howard’s approach. If there was an advantage for him then the truth was irrelevant.

  21. zoot
    December 1st, 2007 at 14:03 | #21

    Question for Steve at the Pub to ponder (no need to totally derail this thread Steve, just mull it over) how many of the people rescued by the Tampa were found to be genuine refugees?

  22. Ikonoclast
    December 1st, 2007 at 14:06 | #22

    Hmmm, yes the Age report. One of many smoking guns I think that will now see the light of day and prove the complicity and guilt of the Howard cabinet.

  23. Spiros
    December 1st, 2007 at 14:57 | #23

    Howard will be remembered as a “whatever it takes” politician, in thhe worst tradition of Graham Richardson, who he had a lot in common with, despite being in a different party.

    Example: his shameless trashing of federalism, a fundamental Liberal Party belief if ever there was one, because he thought it would be good politics to attack state Labor governments.

    (The spinelessness of state Liberal leaders who said nothing while this was going on is worthy of a post in its won right.)

  24. jack Strocchi
    December 1st, 2007 at 15:18 | #24

    Ikonoclast Says: December 1st, 2007 at 12:04 pm

    The damage to Australia’s international reputation may be repairable but it will take some considerable time.

    Ha, Ha, Ha, I am splitting my sides laughing. This “damage to our reputation” people are always talking about must have occurred in one of those parallel universes that quantum physicists are always conjecturing.

    One could imagine the alternative history, as breathlessly reported by a Fairfax journo:

    “AUS’s reputation was left in tatters during Howards reign. He encouraged Hanson’s rise to power, especially after he promoted her to deputy PM.

    “Hardly any people came to the Olympics or visited AUS as tourists during this dark period in our history.

    “Also, there were virtually no immigrants esp NESBs allowed in under the New White Australia policy. No coloured people of any complexion could be persuaded to come here and run the gauntlet of “narrow minded bigotry”.

    Howard’s policy compared very unfavourably with the USA and USE, both of whom passed multicultural constitutional amendments during this time. And they never had any more ethnic problems or far-right political movements ever again.

    And so on. In fact this parody is not far from the literal truth reproduced by most cultural commentators over the past decade.

    Aboslute. Reality. Disconnect.

    Most of Howard’s bads were related to style or process. He did very little substantive bad. And much substantive good, esp during times of crisis eg E Timor, Port Arthur, 911-Bali response, Aceh tsunami, indigenous intervention.

    Most of all he repaired our dysfunctional civic culture after a generation of Left wing intellectual garbage and institutional wreckage.

    Howards greatest achievement was the reform of immigration and indigenous pollicy which were an absolute dogs breakfast when he got to power. Rorts and rackets were the order of the day – the head of ATSIC was a serial rapist fer crissake. And a former immigration minister was languising in jail for racketeering!

    The results were predictable: emerging ethnic ghettos, branch-stacking, ethnic crime gangs, massive welfare fraud, rorting of both immigration and refugee programs, rampant anomie and child abuse for broken indigenous communities, even assassinations.

    This alarming situation has largely been reversed due to proper and effective action by politically incorrect ministers, led by Howard. No doubt this led to some indelicacies and noses being put out of joint by oh-so-sensitive expats and frequent flyers. I couldnt care less.

    Do Cultural Leftists think that perhaps these little blemishes might have done our reputation a tad of harm?

  25. alan
    December 1st, 2007 at 15:26 | #25

    A little anecdote.

    An acquaintance of mine used to be the Liberal member for the country town where I live. He told me this story.

    “Back in the mid-70′s I went to an old-style town meeting with xxx. We were both just starting out in politics. John Howard spoke at the meeting. As we driving back, xxx said ‘John Howard is going to go a long way’. I replied “Oh, I don’t know, I couldn’t see that there was anything he actually stood for. And you know, we were both right.’”

  26. Sir Henry Casingbroke
    December 1st, 2007 at 15:40 | #26

    Maxine McKew has this morning claimed to have won John Howard’s seat. I wonder, Jack Strocchi, if she was being presumptuous or do you think it is a fact now?

  27. melanie
    December 1st, 2007 at 16:07 | #27

    Sir Henry, as of yesterday 92.25% of votes were counted and Maxine was on 51.25%. While the last 15% of votes were being counted she lost 0.4% of her margin. I don’t think she can lose it now.

    Since I travel quite a lot in Asia and meet Asians visiting here, I think that it’s fair to say that our international reputation has suffered quite a lot.

  28. jack Strocchi
    December 1st, 2007 at 17:49 | #28

    melanie Says: December 1st, 2007 at 4:07 pm

    Since I travel quite a lot in Asia and meet Asians visiting here, I think that it’s fair to say that our international reputation has suffered quite a lot.

    I daresay these Asians would hail from countries substantially more racist and less democratic than John Howard could ever dream of. Still everyone is entitled to their own opinion, no matter how tendentious and self-serving.

    Also, perhaps you should travel a little bit more in your own country, to get an idea about how our citizens feel about dysfunctional immigrants. A trip to SW Sydney or SE Melbourne would be a real eye-opener.

    What I am interested in is hard fact. In this respect the “damaged reputation” thesis is complete codswobble. Asians have been coming to AUS in their droves over the past decade.

    Lots of investment from Asia flooding the AUS equity markets. Lots of Asian tourists and immigrants esp in Sydney.

    Whats more they love the place, literally in many cases. Caucasian Christian males picking up Asian second wives and I dont mean mail order brides from the Phillipines.

    My mother plays hosts to a den of Asian students. They all adore her, send her post cards and all the rest. More dutiful than me.

    So where is this dreaded reputation-trashing going on? In the minds of academic, diplomatic and mediacrats no doubt there is a lot of hand-wringing, brow-furrowing and finger-wagging about Howard’s latest outrage.

    This tut-tutting is usually done to curry favour amongst Asians on the cocktail party circuit. All part of the relentless battle for social status war waged by upper-middle class, uni-educated, inner-city dwelling, luvvies against lower-middle class, TAFE-educated, outer suburban McMansion dwelling red-necks.

    “If there is hope it lies in the proles.”

    George Orwell

  29. Katz
    December 1st, 2007 at 18:02 | #29

    There aren’t permanent friendships, just permanent interests.

    Howard’s dogwhistling ways on race, while demeaning to all associated with it, changed nothing in terms of international relations or trade relations.

    As Strocchi has pointed out, it didn’t stop tourists from coming to Australia and it didn’t stop any trade deals. Australia’s influence may even have helped Indonesia make the transition to the post-Soeharto era, which isn’t exactly democracy, but is better than what they had.

    Could Howard have achieved this while avoiding being such a narrow little philistine? Probably. But Howard was the philistine we had. In terms of our relations with Asia, he could have done much worse.

    Australian foreign policy is in transition between a declining US and a rising China/India. Howard managed that quite well.

  30. John Greenfield
    December 1st, 2007 at 18:17 | #30

    The above comment is an unfortunate example of the cookie-cutter type of decontextualised analysis of Howard’s prime ministership that elsewhere I predicted future historians will show more sophistication.

    To extract Howard’s responses to cultural matters from the broader geopolitical circumstances is at the minimum naive, but more like calculatedly diingenuous. It is impossible to discuss Howard’s responses without seeing the connections not only within the Anglosphere, but throughout Europe, Africa, the Phillipines, Indonesia, Thailand, India, and even the middle east.

    Fortunately historians tend to make higher demands on evidence than allowed by Luvviesphere Warriors.

  31. Katz
    December 1st, 2007 at 18:31 | #31

    OK, I’ll bite.

    Just how is everything connected to everything else in your imagined map of Howard’s mind, JG?

    If Howard was able to carry this allegedly huge, internally consistent construct around in that enormous brain of his, then exactly how did he lose the election? Seems like a silly misuse of brainpower to me.

    And can you answer these two questions without using the word “luvvie”?

  32. Amy
    December 1st, 2007 at 18:58 | #32

    Those electors who voted Kevin07 should now present themselves to their nearest detox.

  33. pale_ale
    December 1st, 2007 at 19:23 | #33

    John’s longest lasting legacy is probably his least reported on.

    I’m talking about the expansion of the welfare state to the point where almost every Australian family now recieves welfare (family tax benefit B, baby bonus, first home grant etc. etc. etc. etc.).

    And let’s not forget that when faced with the pressures of an ageing population he decided that regardless of how much an old person earns they should pay less tax than the rest of us because well, they’re old.

    These “reforms” will only get more expensive as time goes one are politically impossible to claw back.

    Nice legacy.

  34. Ikonoclast
    December 1st, 2007 at 19:54 | #34

    Spot on pale_ale. The churning that goes on in terms of taxing by bracket creep and then giving it back as middle-class welfare bribes is worse than useless economically speaking.

    Unfortunately, our economy is so distorted by middle-class welfare, corporate welfare and subsidies for uneconomic and polluting activities, it would take ten years with the best political will in the world to wind it all back without causing the patient to go into termial shock through withdrawal of all the financial drugs of dependency. Gee, sorry about the long sentence.

  35. Sir Henry Casingbroke
    December 1st, 2007 at 20:56 | #35

    But Mr Strocchi, some of those “dysfunctional immigrants” were functioning well enough to cast a vote in Bennelong, weren’t they? You will recall that I predicted as much in a blog and even bet you $50 and you accepted. Which reminds me, are you going to honour the wager? Or shall we wait until the John Howard is officially declared as having come second?

    Incidentally, you got a bargain of a lifetime there, at even money, when the price at Centrebet on Maxine at that time, around February, was $4.25 to John Howard’s $1.25.

  36. December 1st, 2007 at 21:17 | #36

    Sir Henry, if the bet was made, in the official and correct manner, Mr Strocchi should pay up.

    In my opinion.

  37. Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer
    December 1st, 2007 at 21:48 | #37

    He kept Australia white and free. For that I shall always love him.

  38. George W. Bush
    December 1st, 2007 at 22:17 | #38

    I’d like to pass on my regards to the man who was a true giant astride the international stage. A colussus in international affairs. Why, I’ll never forget how in 2002 he was the first to promise to join me in Iraq. Here was a politician who was able to stand up to the cheese-eating-surrender-monkeys and fight the good fight there even though 90% of his people didn’t want it. Now that’s a true leader!

    Any time I wanted an honest opinion I knew that I could go to him and that he’d agree with me. That’s a true friend.

    He was the best darn leader Austria has ever had. He really raised the profile of your country like no other President has done before.

    And he really knows how to run an OPEC meeting. Can you imagine, an OPEC meeting without Arabs! The man of steel was a policital genius, and I’m proud to say, my dearest friend.

    Mr Jan Howart, I salute you.

  39. Enemy Combatant
    December 1st, 2007 at 22:18 | #39

    iKonoclast, this excerpt from your comments @10, rigs clarion true with me.

    “We participated in an illegal war, we condoned and conspired in torture and illegal internment of our own and foreign nationals. We treated refugees in the most criminally foul and inhumane manner. The damage to our institutions, our liberal democracy and the national psyche will be much more difficult to repair than our international reputation. We cannot as a people participate in blatantly immoral and cruel actions without being rendered to some degree desensitised and callous. We cannot legislate away democratic, legal and humanitarian protections without threatening such essential principles as the presumption of innocence, the right to natural justice, the right to a speedy and fair trail and above all the right to protection against the arbitrary power of the state.”
    And all the while, the now ex-Member for Bennelong was our helmsman.

    joe2 and Sir Henry, please allow me to reassure you that Mr. Jack Strocchi always conducts himself in a most gentlemanly manner when it comes to matters of honour.

  40. Ian Gould
    December 1st, 2007 at 23:29 | #40

    “Climate change is not something in which the rest of the world has shot ahead whilst Australia held back. We are all still under starter’s orders.”

    Europe’s GHG emissions are lower today than they were in 1990, Australia’s are approximately 8% higher.

  41. December 2nd, 2007 at 06:10 | #41

    this thread was probably a very good idea. ‘catharsis’ as the shrinks put it. as the classical hellene dramatists put it too, with more relevance. but emotional release having been achieved, let’s go back to our common hobby of pretending to be citizens.

    what should the rudd regime do,

    in education?
    in national defense?
    in social services?
    in infrastructure?
    in conservation?
    in environment?

    what will constitute success in these areas?

    it’s not enough to say the wicked witch is dead, the wicked witch never dies, she just does a doctor who. now let’s pass the time by setting standards in ‘print’ as it were, to remind us in a few years time of what credulous fools we were. (well, you were. i didn’t vote for him.)

  42. jack Strocchi
    December 2nd, 2007 at 07:36 | #42

    Sir Henry Casingbroke Says: December 1st, 2007 at 8:56 pm

    But Mr Strocchi, some of those “dysfunctional immigrants� were functioning well enough to cast a vote in Bennelong, weren’t they? You will recall that I predicted as much in a blog and even bet you $50 and you accepted. Which reminds me, are you going to honour the wager?

    The swing against Howard was below the national average, and this in a set whose demographics had substantially shifted away from the LN/P base. North East Asians are the predominant immigrant group in Bennelong. Do I need to spell out to you why they do not, as a rule, produce a relatively large crop of dysfunctional citizens?

    I appreciate your reminder that I I lost the bet on who would win Bennelong. I dont appreciate your graceless hectoring about my propensity to honour my wagers. Not the sort of thing a gentleman does in public.

    YOu will get your $50 after you send me your banking BSB or pay pal email.

  43. jack Strocchi
    December 2nd, 2007 at 07:57 | #43

    Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer Says: December 1st, 2007 at 9:48 pm

    He kept Australia white and free. For that I shall always love him.

    Are all Cultural Leftists deranged from reality when the subject of John Howard comes up? For the umpteenth time Howard massively increased the NESB component of immigration. See this article for proof.

    THe substantive differences b/w Howard and Fraser-Hawke-Keating was that Howard did not use the immigration/refugee program as a corrupt racket to pander to ethnic lobbies or to bolster declining party memberships.

    YOu might have thought that this civic progress (a policy of diverse adoptives/a polity of relaxed and comfortable natives) would garner some praise or at least acknowledgment from the vanishingly small number of commenters who have an impartial concern for the national interest. But I would not hold my breath.

    The stylistic difference b/w Howard and Fraser-Hawke-Keating is that Howard resorted to dog whistles where political correctness reached hysterical proportions. I think he should have called a spade a spade but perhaps blunt speaking is “inappropriate” in these days of cultural sensitivity training.

    Obviously what counts above intellectual veracity and social utility in cultural analysis is stylistic show ie projecting a good image of oneself in the status-conflict between inner-urban, uni-educated apartment-dwelling, black-clads versus sub-urban, tafe-educated, McMansion-building, red-necks.

    Pathetic.

  44. observa
    December 2nd, 2007 at 07:59 | #44

    Personally I think Howard’s greatest strength was as a great manager of people and their diverse interests and this was nowhere better displayed than as a manager of their representatives in his government. The contrast with any manager on the other side of politics should be glaringly obvious to us all and perhaps Rudd has taken up that strong legacy now. Fred Argy noticed the characteristics that a successful diversity manager needed (essentially not being a hater) and although he had his strong beliefs and was not afraid to enunciate them, he allowed his ministers a lot of free rein to get the overall job done, albeit he would make the tough overriding calls (eg on Latham’s polly super stunt) As for our international reputation, it was not long ago he was voted the world’s most popular leader and Oz the world’s most popular place to emigrate to. As Al points out, it remains to be seen if Rudd can mend our international reputation back to the good old days of Keating again, before we all fell under Howard’s evil spell and trashed it.

  45. haiku
    December 2nd, 2007 at 08:15 | #45

    Jack, you might not want to take that comment (37) at face value. Unless you really think it was written by the former foreign minister. In which case, I welcome the President of the United States to the comments as well! (38)

  46. alan
    December 2nd, 2007 at 08:52 | #46

    I agree with one point made by al loomis at 41.

    I suggest that before the new government does anything
    in education
    in national defense
    in social services
    in infrastructure
    in conservation
    in environment

    it should restore the structures and processes of probity and ethics in government. Some starting points might be a ministerial code of conduct, codifying the roles and responsibilities of advisers and departmental heads, cleaning up the use of government money to advertise party policies and repealing the Electoral Integrity Act.

    Human nature being what it is, it will be only a few months, at most, before the new team becomes accustomed to the perks of power and to spending public money. The closer we get to the next election, the less likely they are to restrain themselves.

  47. Katz
    December 2nd, 2007 at 09:22 | #47

    Personally I think Howard’s greatest strength was as a great manager of people and their diverse interests and this was nowhere better displayed than as a manager of their representatives in his government.

    Howard managed the Liberal Party to death.

    Howard’s ascendancy coincided with the collapse of the Liberal Party nationwide as a credible force in state politics. And finally, the disease of Howardism has killed the Liberla Party at the federal level.

    The connection between Howard and the nationwide collapse of the Liberal Party is not hard to see.

    Howard relentlessly purged the party of its liberal wing. His complete victory in this regard was thwarted only by latterday resistance from the few remaining liberals (e.g., Pietro Georgiou) and their thoroughly alarmed supporters.

    Howard did nothing while his own state branch (NSW) was taken over by unelectable religious lunatics.

    None of this had to happen. I am sure that the voices of reason will return to conservative politics. Whether this return will occur inside or outside the current Liberal Party is still a metter for conjecture.

    Howard chose to encourage this cultural revolution inside the Liberal Party for his own purposes.

    The consequences for Liberalism will be dire and long-lasting.

    As Howard said in his concession speech, “I owe the Liberal Party more than it owes me.”

    Liberals are going to pay that price for decades.

  48. George W. Bush
    December 2nd, 2007 at 09:23 | #48

    Jack needs an emergency sense of humour transfusion.

  49. Sir Henry Casingbroke
    December 2nd, 2007 at 09:57 | #49

    Mr Strocchi, I am a little hurt by your assertion that I was hectoring you (gracelessly). My intention was merely to inquire whether you wanted to wait until AEC formally declared the poll in Mr Howard’s seat of Bennelong, or if you were happy with Maxine McKew’s claim. The graceless hectoring came from those notorious luvvie leftist wets Joe2 and EC.

    If you are happy to acknowledge that our ex-prime minister Mr John Winston Howard has now lost his own seat then you may consequently wish to settle the debt by way of a $50 donation to Larvatus Prodeo to help them with a new server – you may not be aware that their previous server fell victim of a vicious denial of service attack by people hostile to freedom of speech. You will find the PayPal gateway via http://larvatusprodeo.wordpress.com/about/

  50. jack Strocchi
    December 2nd, 2007 at 10:01 | #50

    George W. Bush Says: December 2nd, 2007 at 9:23 am

    Jack needs an emergency sense of humour transfusion.

    As if piling onto the “John-Howard-is-a-racist” bandwagon was ever funny. Stale, threadbare and not even remotely close to the mar.

    Cultural Leftists should try to come up with a new political joke for the the next decade. Perhaps even a new political thought, although that would probably asking to much.

  51. jack Strocchi
    December 2nd, 2007 at 10:10 | #51

    Sir Henry Casingbroke Says: December 2nd, 2007 at 9:57 am

    If you are happy to acknowledge that our ex-prime minister Mr John Winston Howard has now lost his own seat then you may consequently wish to settle the debt by way of a $50 donation to Larvatus Prodeo to help them with a new server – you may not be aware that their previous server fell victim of a vicious denial of service attack by people hostile to freedom of speech. You will find the PayPal gateway via http://larvatusprodeo.wordpress.com/about/

    Done. Payment details hereunder.

    Payment Sent (ID No.5G751050YU6289618)
    Business Name: Mark Bahnisch
    Contact details deleted
    Total Amount:-$50.00 AUD
    Date: 1 Dec. 2007
    Time: 16:05:37 PST
    Status: Completed
    Note:
    Sir Henry has asked me to settle my Howard-Bennelong bet with him by making a contribution to LP’s server repair fund. Consider this Howard’s final contribution to LP’s political discourse.

  52. haiku
    December 2nd, 2007 at 10:26 | #52

    Good stuff Jack.

    JQ, you might wish to edit Jack’s post at comment 51 to remove the direct references Mark’s gmail address. No doubt he’s on some spamlists already, but no need to add to the pile.

    Done

  53. George W. Bush
    December 2nd, 2007 at 10:32 | #53

    Dear Jack,

    That is an outrageous allegation. I have nothing but the greatest respect for my friend the ex-Chancellor of Austria. Claims of “racism” are no truer of him than of me.

    In my experience these allegations of “racism” are from people who don’t understand how the “level playing feild” works. People succeed or fail on their own merits, and if some people find themselves at the bottom of the pile, well, they just need to work harder.

    Jon and I know that. That’s why we are such great friends

  54. Sir Henry Casingbroke
    December 2nd, 2007 at 10:34 | #54

    Thank you Mr Strocchi for your prompt and honourable response.

  55. December 2nd, 2007 at 11:13 | #55

    alan, i would be happy to add ethical standards to my list of benchmarks, except i cannot remember the last time that i was moved to applaud ethical behavior in a pollie. setting standards in that area is perhaps too demanding, like expecting hyenas to move down the menu to the ‘vegetarian’ section.

  56. December 2nd, 2007 at 11:25 | #56

    John Howard changed the face of Australian politics by making his conservative vision mainstream. I forget Kim Beazley’s exact words but they were something like ‘the leading force in Australian conservative politics in a generation’.

    Kevin Rudd is the most conservative Labor leader for quite a while and in all major policies is mimicking John Howard. On climate change (after Garrett’s goof) almost exactly mimicking Howard. Education, taxes,…all the same.

    Kevin Rudd owes it all to John Howard.

    After being PM for 11 years the worst that John can come up with was that he was a borderline bigot and that he told fibs. The best that Fred Argy can come up with was that he was a nice man who remembered people’s names. There’s some deluded conceit here.

    And Fred you attack the political biases in others but fail to recognise your own – is your assessment of Howard neutral and fair or a thoroughly biased hack ALP view concealed with some side comments about Howard’s claimed politeness?

    And who, Jill, could forget Lowitja’s name. She is one of those aboriginals claiming to be from the ‘stolen generation’ who was in fact (along with her siblings) abandoned by her father. I remember her almost as well as I recall Charles Perkins. He also had a defective memory.

    Both John and Sir Henry point to Howard’s ‘bigotry’ and ‘xenophobia’. But I think our relationship with Asean countries is pretty good. We now admit significant numbers of immigrants from Africa – under Keating/Hawke almost none and both the immigration intake and the refugee/humanitarian intakes are far higher than they were during the Keating/Hawke years.

    Partly that is because the economy is in a much healthier state than then with record low inflation, unemployment and high economic growth. But even if that is true the evidence is hardly consistent with Howard being a bigot.

    Indeed this is a leftwing myth that most people know is false – repeat it long enough and frequently enough and the myth might be transformed into another myth – that Labor won to save Australia from bigotry.

    By the way Rudd has ruled out increases in African migration. Oh yes but he is from the ALP and there is no way he could ever be viewed as a racist or a bigot.

  57. jack Strocchi
    December 2nd, 2007 at 12:06 | #57

    The meme that Howard promoted bigotry is inconsistent with the policy and polity facts. The AUS govt has never in its history had such a diverse civic intake and the population is right behind the govt.

    “Howard=Bigot” is something that Leftists say to make themselves feel socially superior to people who voted for Howard. Perhaps it is social achievement to cast an vote anti-Howard but its not one that I would be bragging about.

    Perhaps Howard’s politics occasionally “played the race card by dog-whistling specially coded xenophobic messages to the red-necks” or some such. All this tells me is that AUS political culture is so intellectually debased that truthful social pattern recognition is considered unrepeatable in polite company.

  58. December 2nd, 2007 at 12:25 | #58

    I’d be fascinated to know what “truthful social pattern recognition” means in English.

  59. jack Strocchi
    December 2nd, 2007 at 12:49 | #59

    Michael Says: December 2nd, 2007 at 12:25 pm

    I’d be fascinated to know what “truthful social pattern recognition� means in English.

    Well “pattern recognition” is a talent that got our species its name. “Social” is is what blog is about – dealing with contentious current affairs esp the so-called Culture Wars. Perhaps you have a problem understanding “truthful”?

  60. John Greenfield
    December 2nd, 2007 at 12:51 | #60

    As this thread so spectacularly attests, those who claim the Culture Wars are “over” need to be told “they’re dreamin.”

  61. jack Strocchi
    December 2nd, 2007 at 12:51 | #61

    Michael,

    BTW Rudd will continue the indigenous intervention. Thank God someone finally recognised that pattern of abuse.

    More power to him and all who sail against the Lefts discredited and disgraced cultural program.

  62. Ikonoclast
    December 2nd, 2007 at 12:57 | #62

    Fred Argy is too kind to John Howard. He says, “On the kinder side, I found Howard to be a very courteous and naturally friendly person.”

    Apparent kindness and charm one-on-one when working a room might be fine if it is coupled with genuine concern applied in relation to general humanity. The real test for powerful people is how they treat powerless people. John Howard and his cabinet failed that test abysmally.

    What got up my nose was their unprincipled pursuit of powerless people like Dr Hanif, their throwing of the legal and humanitarian book out the window (on Guantamao Bay for instance), their lies and evasions (children overboard), lack of accountability (AWB wheat scandal), mean-spiritedness (Ms Solon), locking up of people indiscriminantly (the Bedrae family, young children and Australian nationals in immigration detention), mis-use and politicisation of the Army, Immigration, Aust Fed Police), mis-management and ad hoc policy (10 billion Murray plan on the back of a napkin, Aboriginal settlements invasion strategy quaintly called an intervention), demonisation of minority groups; all done of course for no other reason than their own petty power. Howard showed that was true at the end when he could not let go even at the death and even at the cost of his own party.

    To attribute any public good to that cabinet or anyone in it is to ignore an absolute mountain of evidence. I have the same revulsion for leftists who act like that or worse. The only brake on Howard was our democratic system. It’s not about left and right. It’s about basic kindness, humanity and rule of law on the one hand versus cruelty, selfishness and arbitrary subversion of the rule of law on the other.

    John Ralston Saul put it well. He quite rightly said it isn’t about having love for humanity. That is an impossible ideal. JRS pointed out that it’s difficult enough for each of us to love our own family at times (or for them to love us).

    It is about holding to the ideals of democracy, rule of law, elightened and moderated self-interest along with an ability to act disinterestly in the public arena. The last means not thinking of your own sectional interests all the time but seeing that some things must be and are done for the general good of others.

    To achieve the above we must, in the politcal arena, totally reject John Howard and all who are like him.

  63. Sir Henry Casingbroke
    December 2nd, 2007 at 13:26 | #63

    Harry, with regard to Howard’s xenophobia and bigotry, two things emerge: one is that he genuinely held those views and two, that after the emergence of Pauline Hanson as a political force, he was advised to take up and with alacrity did take up that political opportunity, while at the same time destroying Hanson and her party as a political force (with the help of Tony Abbott). This was a brilliant strategic move although I doubt that it was of Howard’s own making.

    When it emerged that his seat of Bennelong now contained a large proportion of Asian migrants who would be vital in any borderline swing, the penny dropped for Howard and he lamely tried to explain his views as “being a product of their time� by way of seeking absolution. As if understanding where he was coming from would make the views any less odious! (Especially by people on the receiving end of racist policy.) It was too little, too late and pathetically transparent.

    Howard was now faced with the prospect of losing his own seat even though there was a small chance the Liberals might still prevail in the general election as a whole. Advised now, again, by Grahame Morris (who was forced out the job as John Howard’s chief spin doctor by the travel rorts scandal back in 1997) Howard tried to bluff his way through, even though his position appeared self-contradictory and preposterously unsustainable.

    Howard’s post-election comments about his love for the Liberal Party were meant to convey to those in the know that his was an act of self-sacrifice; he’d tried to win it for the Libs one more time – by coming home in the final stretch by a nose, powered by the bigot vote and he lost his seat in the process. Is there a greater love?

    It would have worked but for one detail. Those very same Howard’s Battlers whose ears pricked up when they heard his dog whistle, ignored it this time because Howard sold them down the river with Work Choices. Replacing the juicy bone with a small can of Pal was just too much to ask. For this he can thank Minchin, Julie Bishop and Costello, all of whom carried in their knapsacks instructions from the big end of town – miners, merchant banks and industrialists. (No wonder that Costello is now oh-so petulantly asking them for a payoff with a job in the boardroom in the sky. I hope they tell him to get stuffed.)

    Howard was always a gambler, and a “loser.� By that I mean something specific. Not a no-hoper but someone who comes into a game of poker and pathologically bluffs his way through the game, always half-expecting to be called and found out. It is inevitable that sooner or later their luck is going to end. Howard knew it, too. His previous comments shed a light on this mentality most clearly.

    After Peacock engineered a leadership coup Howard admitted readily he was just “luckyâ€? to be in the right place at the right time but now his luck had run out. He said famously in answer to a question of coveting again the leadership: “Oh, that’s Lazarus with a triple bypass. I mean, really, break it down…” He then laughed, seeing the proposition of himself as leader again quite preposterous and funny – as in absurd. His cards now on the table showed nothing, not even a pair of twos.

    But luck would again grant him a roomful of mugs.

    To sum up my position in answer to your post Harry; it was Pauline Hanson that changed the face of Australian politics by having her conservative vision mainstream. Howard’s opportunism ensured that.

    As regards our relationship with ASEAN countries, to suggest that Australia’s “good standing” is due to Howard’s policy (what policy?) is uninformed and glib, especially when you remember that Australia’s foreign minister was a buffoon right out of Gilbert and Sullivan and a laughing stock in diplomatic circles everywhere. ASEAN countries have their own agenda and if playing Australia along is part of it then it had nothing to do with Howard. Note also that some ASEAN countries are not above using racism or religious bigotry to further their own political ends so presumably they would understand where Australia is coming from, i.e. political self-interest in playing the race/religion card. Moreover, Paul Keating, who was neither a racist nor a xenophobe, had brought Australia’s relations with ASEAN countries to a nadir.

  64. jack Strocchi
    December 2nd, 2007 at 13:54 | #64

    Sir Henry Casingbroke Says: December 2nd, 2007 at 1:26 pm

    with regard to Howard’s xenophobia and bigotry, two things emerge: one is that he genuinely held those views and two, that after the emergence of Pauline Hanson as a political force, he was advised to take up and with alacrity did take up that political opportunity, while at the same time destroying Hanson and her party as a political force (with the help of Tony Abbott).

    Howard sacked Hanson from the LP for making unsavoury comments about Aboriginals. He then relentlessly pursued her through the courts until she was finally jailed by a politically correct ball-buster of a judge.

    If this is somehow “encouraging Hansonism” one shudders to think what discouragement would mean. Would burning at the stake do?

    Howard’s attitude towards the prospect of more minority diversity is that of a conservative pragmatist: cautious realism. If it works he is prepared to pull out all stops. If not then he rolls up the welcome mat. The (welcome) turnaround of his attitude towards high IQ NE Asians is proof of that.

    This is a sensible attitude to take. The results speak for themselves: AUS’s minority problems are as nothing compared to the USA and USE. Believe me, I have driven my way accross both continents- of the tourist traps – and I know of what I speak.

    Do you really want to turn the suburbs of Melbourne and Sydney into social experiment laboratories, as in London, Paris and LA?

    The New Left’s play towards minorities is a seductive political intoxicant for the Left. But it is poison just the same.

    The Broad Left dodged a bullet when Howard got into power in 1996. It was heading down the Northern Atlantic road of ethnic ghettoes, far-right political parties and a festering politically correct culture based on deceit, rackets and bad-faith.

    Any party that indulges post-modern liberal fantasies in its civic cultural policies would rapidly find out how much the average Australian’s attachment to “bricks and mortar” outweighed nominal ideological positions. “There goes the neighborhood” is not a phrase likely to go down well in a population as over-mortgaged as Australia.

    The ALP, through painful organizational and political experience, knows this. Which is why it is unlikely to tinker too much with Howard’s cultural policy settings, despite wishful thinking about Ended Cultural Wars.

    Howard’s greatest legacy to public life is his sincerely flattering opposite number: Kevin “Mini Me-Too” Rudd.

  65. Katz
    December 2nd, 2007 at 14:01 | #65

    John Howard changed the face of Australian politics by making his conservative vision mainstream. I forget Kim Beazley’s exact words but they were something like ‘the leading force in Australian conservative politics in a generation’.

    Kevin Rudd is the most conservative Labor leader for quite a while and in all major policies is mimicking John Howard. On climate change (after Garrett’s goof) almost exactly mimicking Howard. Education, taxes,…all the same.

    HC,

    This assertion would carry more weight were you to explain, in broad terms, what you mean by Howard’s “conservative” “vision”.

    More precisely, what sort of a conservative:

    1. Increases enormously the role of the state in cross-subsidisation of various political clientes?

    2. At the same time reduces appreciably the legal right of wage earners to organise themselves to negotiate their working conditions with their employers?

    3. Vastly increases the powers of central government by petitioning the High court to extend enormously the corporation powers of the Australian constitution.

    4. Undermines judicial independence by excision of Australian territoriality?

    5. Annuls leasehold title of lands in the Northern Territory, but only those leases deemed to be held by aboriginal persons?

    6. Creates a national security system that operates beyond the purview of the judiciary?

    7. Executes a thoroughgoing purge of the Liberal Party, as a result of which traditional liberals were excluded or made to feel unwelcome and which now fields candidates and policies that have made it unelectable the length and breadth of the country?

    Is this the sort of conservative that you are?

  66. John Greenfield
    December 2nd, 2007 at 14:08 | #66

    While there is no doubt Rudd is conservative I suspect his more defining political attribute will be his authoritarianism. I suspect there will be quite ruthless cuts in bureacracy and services. Perhaps we will see the phoenix of “Razor gangs.”

  67. John Greenfield
    December 2nd, 2007 at 14:15 | #67

    Katz

    While I share your disdain at Howard’s bribes, I wonder how fairly they can be reduced to “middle class welfare?” I don’t have the data at my fingertips (I’m sure JQ will), but I was under the impression that there was actually a substantial redistribution in favour of the bottom twenty percent during the past ten years.

    Also, I am not sure that handing a surplus back to the taxpayers is a repudiation of “conservatism,” especially when those handbacks were aimed at strengthening families. Perhaps if he had pursued these agendas by putting the state into debt he could be so derided.

  68. Katz
    December 2nd, 2007 at 14:23 | #68

    Again JG, I never used the term “middle-class welfare” in the context of Howard. The closest I got (though misspelled!) was “various clienteles”.

    Also, I am not sure that handing a surplus back to the taxpayers is a repudiation of “conservatism,�

    But as you admitted, Howard didn’t give it back. He redistributed it.

    You can’t have it both ways, JG!

  69. Sir Henry Casingbroke
    December 2nd, 2007 at 14:31 | #69

    I never used “encouraging Hansonism”, Jack, so I don’t think you can build your response on such a premise. This is classic straw man argument. Howard and/or his advisers noted that Hanson’s views had resonance among some traditional Labor supporters and by signalling to them that he would adopt some of those ideas and attitudes he hoped to woo them over for political advantage. It was a successful strategem. At the same time, he used the statutory machinery of state, in the way that Vladimir Putin is doing at the moment in Russia, to remove her from competing with him on that ground.

  70. December 2nd, 2007 at 14:38 | #70

    “Well “pattern recognitionâ€? is a talent that got our species its name. “Socialâ€? is is what blog is about – dealing with contentious current affairs esp the so-called Culture Wars. Perhaps you have a problem understanding “truthfulâ€??” – JS

    Is it the sociological version of the 19thC ‘scientific’ defense of racism?

    “BTW Rudd will continue the indigenous intervention. Thank God someone finally recognised that pattern of abuse.
    More power to him and all who sail against the Lefts discredited and disgraced cultural program.” – JS.

    The cultural warriors delusions on this are phenomenal.

    Aboriginal social dysfunction emerged yesterday because they finally bothered to notice. Go back and read Nugget Coombes from 30+ years ago and he was commenting on the same problems and the need for significant government intervention to improve the lot of Indigenous australians.

    It remains to be seen if they can divorce themselves from neo-liberal fantasies in favour of doing what works.

  71. Chris Lloyd
    December 2nd, 2007 at 14:38 | #71

    Steve the (re)publican says: “Iraq ain’t over yet. All wars are fiascos of one sort or another.” Which is why we bleeding hearts are against them unless the case is overwhelming.

    JWH’s legacy is that we were almost sole supporters of the Iraq debacle that costs hundreds of thousands of lives. Howard’s loss means very little to me though, because the war was not an election issue. He can console himself that he was the victim of the silly Kevin07 slogan.

  72. Chris Lloyd
    December 2nd, 2007 at 14:51 | #72

    Harry Clarke: Do you have any evidence for your claim that Lowitja O was not a member of the stolen generation? You seem to suggest that she is not because she was abandoned by her father, which hardly follows since she had an aboriginal mother. Just a link would do fine.

  73. John Greenfield
    December 2nd, 2007 at 14:55 | #73

    Sir Henry

    There is a combination of nastiness and hypocrisy in the line (now a cliche) you have adopted over Hansonism. Nasty in that it does not respect the right of Labor (and other) voters to express their rejection of Keating’s taking them for granted by patronising them via his Culture War; nor does it recognise the responsibility of democratically-elected politicians to listen and respond to the views of the electorate.

    It is all very well for Keating to hiss and fume that he would have responded differently, when it was his Cultural Wars that provided the demand for Hansonism in the first place. A classic statment of Keating’s hubris was his SMH article last Monday morning claiming Howard was wrong to respond to Hanson the way it did because he ‘made it OK for Australians to be racist, blah, blah, blah…’ Wrong Paul. We do not wait for Prime Ministers to tell us what and when can have an opinion.

    The hypocrisy comes from giving a tick to Howard’s Battlers when they express their dissatisfaction at Workchoices, etc. by voting Labor at the ballot box, when Labor has responded to the Battler’s demands. But when The Battlers did the same thing over Keating’s Culture Wars they are abused and derided.

  74. December 2nd, 2007 at 15:21 | #74

    Chris Lloyd, here.

    Sir Henry, At the time of the Hanson/Blainey/ Howard business I was working on immigration research with several people of Asian ethnicity. They told me they believed the pace of Asian immigration (its first derivative) was too high – that it would produce a backlash.

    It turns out they were wrong. In particular the Vietnamese influx has integrated well and has not caused problems even where it has concentrated.

    But I don’t believe it is racist to express such concerns – just cautious and sensible. I agree with Jack – Australia is not a social engineering experiment for left-wingers. Nor is Australia a common property resource of the world’s people. It is the home of Australians and we should be cautious about inviting in migrants who will not fit in.

    There are awful racists in both the Liberal and Labor Party. John Howard isn’t one of them.

    Katz, There is a difference between libertarianism and conservatism as you know. I have repeatedly criticised the handouts so yes I agree on that. It is a disease of modern government. I think 2. is very important and Howard misjudged it. The power of the unions and the leftwing intellectual rabble to limit the possibilities for labour market reform is strong. It is a short-term move designed to save a dying trade union movement but will cost jobs and reduce national productivity.

    Howard needed land rights to stop the grog problem and sexual abuse of children. He guaranteed land would be returned. Kevin Rudd supported this move as did most – not the looney left who see conspiracies everywhere.

    BTW lets cut the crap – lets give freehold title of land to individual aboriginals and forget about leasehold and land that can be lived on but not sold.

    Sir Henry again, Paul Keating sucked up to Suharto. John Howard maintain a dignified diplomacy which has got us further. We are not Asians, we are not part of Asia but we want close links (trading and cultural) with Asian people.

  75. Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer
    December 2nd, 2007 at 15:57 | #75

    I shall never forget how he stood up to the Muslim hordes as they tried to take over our country and circumcise our daughters.

    And when he put the boot into Obama, what? Just like the old days when we could sit on the porch with our gin and tonics.

    All the best,

    Dolls

  76. Sir Henry Casingbroke
    December 2nd, 2007 at 16:09 | #76

    I have not adopted any “line” John. I have come to my conclusion by commonsense reasoning from the available evidence. If others have come to the same conclusion as me in this instance, it does not follow that I agree them in other areas, hence this is a logical flaw in your argument made up by conflating parts of what I said conflated what you believe otehrs have said along similar lines about other things – it is a fallacy of composition. My reference to Paul Keating was to refute that having a non racist and non xenophobic policy at home follows that this would ipso facto obtain plaudits from ASEAN countries and hence the converse, about Howard, which was my point.

    Harry, you are absolutely correct with regard to Keating’s attitude towards the corrupt war criminal and mass murderer Suharto. My sentiments have been expressed brilliantly by Enemy Combatant in this link:
    http://www.roadtosurfdom.com/2007/09/17/the-political-butterfly-effect/

    Further, let me volunteer here that Howard often showed courage, which Bomber Beasley never did – gun laws and intervention in East Timor (albeit the latter under some public pressure and with the agreement of the US Commander for the South Pacific, John Howard’s immediate superior.)

  77. Katz
    December 2nd, 2007 at 16:14 | #77

    John Howard changed the face of Australian politics by making his conservative vision mainstream.

    So to reiterate, HC,

    The one policy of Howard’s I mentioned as being a candidate for being described as conservative with which you have stated agreement is his WorkChoices.

    And you agree that it was WorkChoices which brought Howard down.

    How, then, can you assert that Howard made “his conservative vision mainstream”?

    On the contrary, it would appear to me that either Howard has not been conservative or he has not be successful when he enacted conservative policy.

    This conclusion appear to contradict your quoted assertion.

  78. Jill Rush
    December 2nd, 2007 at 18:41 | #78

    HC,
    A lack of understanding about another’s circumstances is usually accompanied by ignorance.

    Lowitja O’Donahue is a strong woman – however she has a sense of humour and honours her people. These are excellent qualities but it must be understood that she is exceptional.

    Your denigration of her circumstances is dishonourable and attacks the concept of the stolen generations. It happened and the effects are still evident in Aboriginal communities today. Howard might have in his political desperation started the Intervention – however it is better that Rudd take it from here if we are not to repeat history.

  79. MH
    December 2nd, 2007 at 20:45 | #79

    John Winston Howard 25th Prime Minister of Australia. An obtuse and complicated character who managed to blend the worst of the British Torie Party with an antipodean version of US Republicanism covered in a veneer of Sydney parochialism and middle class Presbyterianism.

    A willing ambassador and agent provocoteur for the HR Nicholls society, the Mining Industry and predatory capitalism. A blend of mercantilist, Riccardian frenzy, a skewed Friedmanite and aparthied activist. A clever and wily debater who always disputed the meaning and argued over words, relied on factoidal anecdote and never let the truth get in the way of a good story. A true illiberal who destroyed himself and his party both.

    He will be remembered for failing his nation by ignoring; global warming and climate change, the end of the petroleum era, making education a province of the wealthy, handouts to the upper middle class and being unable to recognise the pain and suffering of Australia’s indigenous peoples. For hindering true nationhood and a republican constitution. For engaging the nation in wars of ill-repute for disengenious reasons and making our nation a target for extremist assassins. A PM who shunned the Pacific Nations and the indigenous nations of the world. A PM who with sought to undo four hundred years of hard won legal freedoms and rights at law, reintroduced sedition, trampled on habeus corpus, removed the right to silence, a fair trial and finally built concentration camps to house the stateless and desperate and who eagerly allowed children to be incarcerated in offshore gulags. And finally who repudiated a centuries of seafaring tradition to abandon those in peril at sea.

  80. Tony G
    December 2nd, 2007 at 21:04 | #80

    “It happened and the effects are still evident in Aboriginal communities today. ”

    Yes, a lucky few got to leave those glue sniffing communities many years ago.

  81. Spiros
    December 2nd, 2007 at 21:11 | #81

    Before the myth gets set in concrete, what is the evidence that Labor’s loss in 1996 was due to rejection of Keating’s cultural agenda.

    A more plausible explanation is that the battlers took out their revenge on Keating for the recession we had to have, having been denied the pleasure three years earlier by their inability to swallow Hewson.

    John Greenfield, if you’ve got some data that shows that the battlers voted Liberal in 1996 because they were really upset by Keating’s Redfern Park speech, or his flirtation with the arts community, can you point to a link?

  82. jack Strocchi
    December 2nd, 2007 at 21:15 | #82

    Sir Henry Casingbroke Says: December 2nd, 2007 at 2:31 pm

    Howard and/or his advisers noted that Hanson’s views had resonance among some traditional Labor supporters and by signalling to them that he would adopt some of those ideas and attitudes he hoped to woo them over for political advantage. It was a successful strategem.

    Whoa, John Howard guilty of pandering to the populus preferences. What kind of crazy political system lets this happen? I know, a democratic one.

    I guess that liberal-Leftists will just have to get used to the idea that people with a different take on matters have the vote to, you know. Some of them are workers who have families in whose well-being, on the streets and in schools, they take a keen interest. Rotten bigots one and all, we can agree.

    Sir Henry Casingbroke Says:

    At the same time, he used the statutory machinery of state, in the way that Vladimir Putin is doing at the moment in Russia, to remove her from competing with him on that ground.

    No. It was the adjudicative, rather than legislative, arm that got Hanson in the end. The situation got out of hand when a nasty and nosy liberal-Left judge let her political prejudices get the better of her professions notional committment to civil liberty.

    It makes you think how seriously some so-called liberals take the idea of “liberty”.

  83. Spiros
    December 2nd, 2007 at 21:18 | #83

    Harry, we’re all agreed, Keating’s sucking up to Suharto was disgusting. But it was realpolitik, exactly like Howard’s judgment that we had to support the US in Iraq, aside from his personal preference for doing so.

    The problem with realpolitik is that it looks so shabby such a short time later, whether it’s Keating-Suharto or Howard-Bush.

  84. jack Strocchi
    December 2nd, 2007 at 21:26 | #84

    Ikonoclast et al Says:

    Howard…Australia’s reputation…trashed in Asia [Blah x 3]

    I have heard this so many times over the past decade it is has practically become embedded in my DNA. Yet I have seen no evidence for it and plenty against it.

    The one, and perhaps only, thing that really brings us down in the eyes of decent Asian society is sex tourism by paunchy, middle-aged Aussies. They really gross me out when you see them strolling along Bali beaches or Bangkok streets slobbering all over slightly built Asian girls barely out of their teens.

    And then there are the pedophile rings in DFAT. Charming.

    But this is kind of sexual commerce is considered legal and above board by most liberals. Free trade and tourism, global economy, cultural exchanges etc.

    Liberalism in its post-modern phase is pretty much exhausted and definitely on the nose.

  85. jack Strocchi
    December 2nd, 2007 at 21:27 | #85

    Webmaster could you fix the blockquote tags in the above comment.

    Thanks.

  86. Spiros
    December 2nd, 2007 at 21:35 | #86

    “It was the adjudicative, rather than legislative, arm that got Hanson in the end”

    After a plot hatched by Tony Abbott, Peter Costello’s father-in-law Peter Coleman and Whitlam minister turned Tory, John Wheeldon.

  87. December 2nd, 2007 at 21:55 | #87

    Sir Henry, On Suharto, I am criticising Australia’s fawning attitude towards Suharto not necessarily Suharto. He had a complex role in Indonesia doing many good things while dipping his finger in the public purse. One thing he did was get most Indonesian kids to school. Its an enormous achievement.

    But I much prefer Howard’s attitudes to Asian leaders which respects them without the cringe that Australia is a dirty white imperialist country with everything to apologise for and ready to absorb all the great culture of Asia on the blank sheet that represents the culture of Australia. A Howard contribution.

    Its like the attitude of the left to immigration generally – come here anyone and fill up our void with your glorious culture – not only to you have a right to come here but because our own culture is null/illegitimate we must by definition benefit from the infusion. I don’t believe this.

    Jill, I provided a link to references which suggest Lowitja was not a member of the so-called ‘stolen generations’. I quote from it:

    Dr O’Donoghue’s nephew, Professor Paul Hughes of Flinders University, confirmed that to say Dr O’Donoghue was stolen would not “be technically right in a pedantic way�.

    “In a technical sense, if someone’s being brought in (to a children’s home by their parents) you can’t say they were stolen,� he said.

    She was dumped by her parents and brought up by two extremely decent nuns who raised her to be the woman she is.

    BTW wasn’t it much the same for Charles Perkins? He wasn’t ‘stolen’ either.

    I prefer the truth to lies Jill. It is not denying aboriginal disadvantage but simply taking away that measure of unwarranted guilt that the left feel so necessary to impose out of their own miserable self-hatred.

    I don’t believe in feeling guilty but in doing things to advance the prospects of indigenous Australians. As Howard would put it I am a convert to ‘practical reconciliation’.

  88. Katz
    December 2nd, 2007 at 22:02 | #88

    After a plot hatched by Tony Abbott, Peter Costello’s father-in-law Peter Coleman and Whitlam minister turned Tory, John Wheeldon.

    A jury found Hanson guilty in the first case.

    Sometimes juries’ decisions are quite inexplicable, like the one that acquitted Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen of fraud.

  89. Katz
    December 2nd, 2007 at 22:26 | #89

    Its like the attitude of the left to immigration generally – come here anyone and fill up our void with your glorious culture – not only to you have a right to come here but because our own culture is null/illegitimate we must by definition benefit from the infusion. I don’t believe this.

    I’d be fascinated to read any citation from any leftist of any public standing who expressed these sentiments.

    If you can’t produce such a citation, HC, you are in danger of being accused of hyperbole.

  90. Alphonse
    December 2nd, 2007 at 22:30 | #90

    Howard, on John Laws’ talkback radio, 24 Oct 96:

    I sympathise fundamentally with those Australians who are insulted when told we have a racist and bigoted past.

    Selling truth down the river for votes – and the nation’s soul in the process. Impossible to explain away.

    An articulate PM who refused to articulate that guilt is the antonym of credit, regret the opposite of satisfaction, and shame the flip-side of pride; who instead deliberately muddled those simple concepts; whose pride/shame balance was 100% out of whack (no hyberbole at all in that quantification); whose absolute limit was “of course one regrets some (unnominated) things, but … ‘guilt industry’ … ‘political correctness’ … ‘elites’ … ‘cultural dieticians’ … ‘move on’ … ‘practical reconciliation’ … “.

    Objectively indefensible, despite all the pathetic attempts at defence above. No, not defence – just playing down, excusing, and extending the label of political correctness to embrace simple concern for truth and decency and suggesting that, so defined, political correctness was worse.

    Lleyton Hewitt. Nothing against a little aussie battler in the big bad world of tennis. I give him credit for his success. I got satisfaction from his grand slam tournament victories. I’m even kinda proud of him, though at times a little ashamed of some of his rough edges (maybe embarrassed is the better word). But Australian of the Year? Come on! (as they say). Was there nothing better of Australia to celebrate? To aspire to? To inspire with? Not in Howard’s impoverished vision cum electoral calculation.

    Howard didn’t make “cultural dieticians” disappear. He was one, with knobs on, and his new diet was way worse than the one that he so avidly and incessantly scorned. He appealed to the worst in us. Which made us worse. Better he had left out any appeal to national spirit – if the jaundiced notion be true that any appeal to the best in us would have been counter-productive.

  91. 2 tanners
    December 2nd, 2007 at 22:40 | #91

    hc@74: Howard needed land rights to stop the grog problem and sexual abuse of children. He guaranteed land would be returned. Kevin Rudd supported this move as did most – not the looney left who see conspiracies everywhere.

    And the reason that it was only done in the NT was that the Government would have to pay millions in compensation to do the same land grab in States. It’s not like anyone argued that abuse stopped at the border – just the measure.

    One Nat MP accused the NSW Govt of gutlessness for not replicating the national legislation in NSW, since the need was just as bad.

    But to do it would have radically damaged the warchest in an election year.

  92. silkworm
    December 3rd, 2007 at 00:05 | #92

    An objective view of Howard can now be gleaned from Wikipedia now that the PM’s Department no longer edits his page.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_howard

    On Howard’s participation in the invasion of Iraq (and I note that in his address to the National Press Gallery in the last week of the campaign, Howard indeed referred to the invasion as “invasion”, and no one to my knowledge picked up on this) the article pointedly refers to the opinion of John Valder, a former president of the Liberal Party, who thought that Howard should be tried and punished as a war criminal. When people in your own party refer to you as a war criminal, there must be something to it.

  93. rog
    December 3rd, 2007 at 05:42 | #93

    I expect editing of Wikipedia entries etc to fall under the domain of T. Gartrell, 161 London Circuit, Canberra City, ACT 2600l eg

    http://www.howardfacts.com/
    http://www.nelsonfacts.com/

  94. Hal9000
    December 3rd, 2007 at 08:10 | #94

    “Sometimes juries’ decisions are quite inexplicable, like the one that acquitted Sir Joh Bjelke Petersen of fraud.”

    No, no, no, Katz. Not fraud, perjury. And not inexplicable – fraud is the right word in regard to that jury’s failure to arrive at a unanimous decision.

    And while we’re on the subject of Queensland Legal, Jack is also wrong, sadly, to blame JWH for ‘relentlessly pursu[ing] her through the courts until she was finally jailed by a politically correct ball-buster of a judge.’ Hanson was pursued not by Howard, but by the Queensland Electoral Commissioner, one Jack Longland, and by the Queensland DPP. BTW, you might have made out a case for persecution against the Queensland DPP given her track record of high profile dud cases – Di Fingleton being another – but you haven’t made out any such case so this is a red herring… Just don’t hang the garland of Hanson-persecution around Howard’s neck, cos he didn’t win it on merit.

    As an epitaph on the soon-to-be-forgotten premiership of John Howard…

    He was a man of average stature yet strangely perceived by all as shorter than average, who pursued obsessively and in wanton disregard of every ethical or political principle his vision for Australia: a country with himself as Prime Minister.

  95. Katz
    December 3rd, 2007 at 08:17 | #95

    Yes, perjury. Forgetfulness. Passage of time. Sorry.

    My use of the word “inexplicable” was, however, deliberately disingenuous.

  96. Hal9000
    December 3rd, 2007 at 08:36 | #96

    An easy mistake, Katz, since both offences involve dishonesty. Mere fraud does not involve breaking an oath on the Bible, however, and given the late and unlamented old mongrel’s predilection for bashing what he would have called the Good Book, it’s that exposure of religious hypocrisy we can all find delicious on reflection.

  97. Chris Lloyd
    December 3rd, 2007 at 12:16 | #97

    Really Harry. A link to Andrew Bolt’s blog where he gets to summarise a conversation of LO from years before? I am not saying you are wrong Harry. But you need a better source than that if you are going to start throwing things around carelessly as fact. Bolt still thinks climate change is a liberal myth.

  98. rog
    December 3rd, 2007 at 14:41 | #98

    There are plenty of out-of-wack jury decisions, like the one that acquitted Dean Waters of murder but convicted his co accused; Dean Waters pulled the trigger.

    Many times it is better to not go for a jury as you are increasing the risk of a wrongful decision.

  99. December 3rd, 2007 at 15:51 | #99

    Chris really. You asked for a source and I (with no obligation on my part) gave you one. The claim that she was not a member of the stolen generations came from her nephew – a professor at Flinders University.

    You obviously didn’t read the post and I get an ungracious response.

  100. Ros
    December 3rd, 2007 at 16:48 | #100

    My judgement of Howard is that he is entitled to be acknowledged as one of Australia’s great leaders. Fred Argy damns him with faint praise, I consider that the man’s courtesy and compassion are important in the consideration of what makes a great leader. Credentials established I will continue.

    That which I would most thank him for is the abolition of the permit system. Having the misfortune to have friends who have worked in organisations, gov and non, that work in the field of Aboriginal affairs, I just cannot understand the argument that the permit system was a help to Aborigines. To know what has been the lot of Aboriginal women and children and that their oppressors are protected by the intellectuals, and lawyers of this country, is very depressing. The notion that the abolition of the permit system allows the paedophiles to enter when the paedophiles are already there and protected by the permit system is bizarre. I have no doubt that it is the same voices clamouring for detention centres to be open to all who demand entry are those that demand the closing of Aboriginal communities to the presence and scrutiny of any Australian who may visit, the same as any of the communities elsewhere in Australia.

    While Rann with his usual panache has managed to ensure South Australia stays invisible in the tragedy of rural Aboriginal communities, I say to my fellow South Australians, what do you know of the Aboriginal ghettos within your state. Do you know that while there is a program for Aboriginal kids to attend high school in Adelaide from the Pitjinjarra lands but many do not return for year 9, and usually it is because they are pregnant, and far too often because the old boys have insisted on their marital rights. That these girls are forced is considered to be “a custom� by those Aboriginals in positions to protect them, rather they protect the perps. I am told that the welfare payments for any children of these polygamous men go to the men. Maybe others know that this is incorrect. No one could think that it is right. But as the reality of rural Aboriginal life and affairs is hidden behind a wall of permits and political correctness it is very difficult to know the truth of life within those communities, and how the Australian state maintains the horrors that are inflicted on these powerless women and children. There is worse, but I am unsure how safe it is for this blog, or the blood pressure of others here to speak of them.

    It seems that for us civilised white folk an open free society where the rules, behaviour and actions of community members and powerbrokers must be open to scrutiny, without warning, by the community within which they reside, is fundamental to our rights and freedom. Not so for Aboriginal women and children. Instead their men must be protected at all times from the spotlight of a democratic society.

    So Howard, he made one of his last acts a very determined attempt to rescue these fellow Australian women and children. There is much more that I approve of in this man, but that might be the one of the most important of his acts for me.

    Please Mr Rudd, do not reinstate the permits.

    BTW lets cut the crap – lets give freehold title of land to individual aboriginals and forget about leasehold and land that can be lived on but not sold.

    It is not as if this critical failing of the Mabo ruling was not understood at the time, by some. The lived on should be expanded to but not make a living on. What was in the heads of the voices, and the judges choosing to make Australian law, which made them inflict Mabo on Aboriginal Australians?

    There are plenty of examples. “Professor Lowitja O’Donoghue, whose white father took her and her sisters and brother from her aboriginal mother when she was two years old, and placed them in a mission, said recently that she considered herself ‘removed’ rather than ‘stolen’.â€?
    Lingua Franca 2001, as just one example.

    Thank You Mr Howard. As for Mr Rudd, I think I am going to be proud of you too as you step onto the world stage.

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