Home > Oz Politics > John Howard open thread

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. gerard
    December 4th, 2007 at 01:33 | #1

    As a person, Howard is a product of his upbringing, as we all are. He came from a right-wing family. As a small business owner, Howard’s dad would naturally have opposed the militant unionism over the first half of this century. Indeed Howard’s dad was a member of the crypto-fascist New Guard, a thuggish paramility organization, mostly WW1 veterans like himself, who intimidated labor activists and anyone they perceived as disloyal to the British crown. Howard imbibed his dad’s petit-bourgeoise conservative values while working on his petrol station. He knew where he stood at an early age; while other young men his age were being conscripted for the Vietnam war, Howard was fighting the good fight at home; serving as Young Liberal President and standing up against the hippie peacenicks and treasonous Trotskyites that wanted to bring the slaughter to an end. Elected to parliament in 1974 while still living with his mum, Howard vigorously opposed such treasonous and disloyal policies as Medicare, Asian immigration, indigenous Land Rights and free Tertiary Education. He was rewarded with the Ministry of Business and Consumer Affairs after Her Majesty’s dismissal of the bolshevik usurper Gough Whitlam.

    Appointed as Treasurer, Howard, supposedly a devoted Friedmanite, claims to have pushed for the policies of microeconomic reform which Fraser never undertook, many of which were later implemented by the Labor Party. As treasurer during the economic stagnation of the Fraser years he oversaw rampant inflation and high interest rates; Costello describes Howard as “not a reformer” and his ministry as “not a success”. He was, in Costello’s opinon, disinterested in the merits of economic policies with an eye only to short term political advantages. After bequeathing a moribund economy for Labor to clean up in 1983, he spent the years in Opposition fighting the ‘wets’ in his own party and standing up for Political Incorrectness in public life, support for South African apartheid being a notable highlight. After his 1987 election campaign was derailed by the oversized ego of Queensland’s tin-pot autocrat, and after Peacock reclaimed the leadership of a party divided by Howard’s socially illiberal views, it looked like the man was past it. But following the failure of Hewson’s Fightback program and the even more embarrassing failure of Downer’s opposition leadership, Howard made the deal with Costello that was never to be honored and was given one last shot.

    In the 1996 election Howard tacked to the centre, repudiating the Fightback program along with some of his more extreme beliefs regarding public services, immigration and industrial relations. The speed of economic and social reform under Keating, as well as the man’s arrogant character and perceived pandering to minority interests had eroded Labor’s support within its traditional base, and Keating’s legislative backing of the Mabo decision and its possible consequences had freaked out some very powerful business interests. Howard won on a moderate conservative platform which was further moderated by the restraining hand of the Democrat controlled Senate. He nevertheless managed to achieve some far-reaching legislative changes. Government expenditure on education and training was massively cut while university fees were raised. Infrastructure investment and social welfare services were scaled back, public assets were sold off to the investor class at bargain prices. While Howard could not abolish public healthcare as he wished, he did divert public funds to the private sector at its expense, a boon for private healthcare industry profits that came at the expense of accessable bulk billing and public hospital standards. Such policies of middle/upper-class government welfare, also seen in Howard’s education policies only worsened as his time went on.

    The IR changes he managed to get through in the 1996 Workplace Relations act fell well short of his ambitions, but began the trend toward casualization and legal restrictions on collective bargaining that would later be taken to an extreme under WorkChoices. Howard’s anti-labour legislation was less about productivity growth, which did not improve, and more about destroying organized labor as a political force. This ambition was epitomized by his government’s conspiracy with Patrick Corporation to replace the unionized stevedoring workforce with mercenary scabs shipped in from Dubai. He 1998 2PP vote but formed government with a majority of seats, an unhappy example of the shortcomings of Australia’s electoral democracy. His tax reform, centered on a new regressive GST has been along with gun-law reform one of the most important undertakings of his government, which would become one of the highest taxing and highest spending governments Australia ever had. The First Home Buyers grant came in during his second term, the beginning of a profligate flood of welfare payments to the ‘aspirational’ middle-class even as the moralizing screws were tightened on the unemployed, disabled and students.

    One achievement that is often noted is the peacekeeping effort in East Timor, as if it was somehow a terrific success. With some basic commitment to nation building it might have been. When Indonesia’s government and economy collapsed in the wake of the Asian Crash, it suddenly became politically acceptable to raise the subject of East Timor, which Howard had been as willing as Keating to ignore. Australian intelligence knew that Indonesian forces were preparing a massacre after the independence referendum all along, and should have brought this to the attention of the UN. When chaos broke out, the public compelled Howard to intervene, although I doubt he would have if there wasn’t an oil field to be divvied up. The success of Interfet’s early nation building efforts were evident in the political collapse of East Timor a few years after independence. But Howard was never interested in giving the world’s newest and poorest nation a fair go, not so long as Woodside’s shareholders had anything to do with it.

    Howard brought an end to some of the more cultural and symbolic policies of the Keating government, such as the Republic. He resolutely opposed the notion of ‘reconciliation’ with indigenous people, and campaigned against the disloyal historians who tried to sling mud on the Christianization of this sparesly inhabited continent. Claiming to put practical measures above ‘symbolism’, he introduced a ten point plan to protect mining and pastoral interests from Native Title, while cutting funding to services for indigenous communities, replacing the body of elected representatives with one of appointed political loyalists and steadfastly ignoring the epidemics of violence, disease, alcoholism and extreme poverty for eleven years.

    ‘Multiculturalism’ was another Keating shibboleth cut down by this loyal royalist. When Pauline Hanson popped up sprouting the same racist agenda that Howard had earlier espoused, he refused to criticize her, gave preferences to her Party, and would later cite his defense of Political Incorrectness as one of his most important achievements in office. However while he believed that bigotry had an acceptable role to play in society at large, he never undertook any policy to actually curb immigration from Asian countries – such policies would have been too damaging to the country’s international reputation and at any rate, the reduction of funding to higher education and training had left the country with a skills shortage that required increasing numbers of educated immigrants (not to mention the foreign students that universities came to rely on for money after their funding cutbacks).

    Of course, asylum seekers were another story. After all, what right-wing government, trailing in the polls,would pass up an opportunity to stage a military victory over a foreign enemy threatening our shores? The enemy in this case being some four hundred sick and malnourished Afghan refugees, dehydrating on the deck of the Norwegian freighter that rescued them from a sinking fishing vessel. For this humanitarian act, the captain of the Tampa was threatened with prosecution as a people trafficker, while Navy commandos were deployed to prevent the ship from entering Australian waters where the wretches could apply for asylum under international refugee law. One Nation’s brief period of success had inspired Howard to take full electoral advantage of the country’s sizable number of racist voters, and the propaganda effect of Howard’s ‘victory’ over the Invasion of Illegals was perfect. The appeal to the electorate’s fear and hate hit all the right buttons, especially when some lies about children being thrown overboard were thrown into the mix. September 11th added to the hysteria – now every refugee was a potential terrorist too! An unconstitutional Border Protection Act was submitted to Parliament with the sole purpose of wedging the opposition, and the billion dollar Pacific Solution monstrosity was born. As a ‘deterrent’, refugees of all ages were imprisoned within a network of prison camps inside and outside Australia, a policy of deliberate cruelty, all overseen by DIMIA’s appallingly inefficient and scandal ridden bureaucracy.

    The ‘Children Overboard’ lie was a low point in Howard government ethics. Although the standards outlined in Howard’s Ministerial Code of Conduct cost the jobs of much of his first-term cabinet, standards dropped precipitously over the course of his time in office – probably something common to most governments. We’re spoilt for choice, but probably the worst lies were those surrounding the invasion of Iraq. As party to this mass-murdering campaign of ruinous aggression Howard committed the same crime for which the Nuremburg defendants were hung. He knew as well as Blair did that the entire Weapons of Mass Destruction crisis was bogus from the outset; that the intelligence was being fixed around the policy. He knew that Australia’s participation in this invasion violated international law and that it would vastly increase the likelihood of a terrorist attack in Australia. But that means and meant nothing to him. In fact, the increasing threat of terrorism was just another issue to be used for political advantage. Civil liberties were curtailed, freedom of information was restricted and the intelligence services manipulated for political advantage, shadowing developments in the United States. Critics of his policies, even a frontrunner for the Democratic candidacy, were dismissed as abetters of terrorism.

    Declaring himself America’s “deputy sherrif”, Howard asserted Australia’s right to military intervene without legal permission in any of its neighbours should it ever perceieve a security threat (the thought of our neighbours asserting the same right against us being impossibly outlandish). Howard’s main foreign policy object was not just to slavishly tie Australia to the imperial ambitions of the US, but to tie it to the neoconservative insanity of ultra-Right Republican Party torturers. Further to this objective Australia was signed on to America’s unworkable Missile Defense white elephant, and the Kyoto protocol was rejected in deference to Bush, despite all of the concessions that Australia had wrung out of the rest of the world during negotiatons. The world’s highest per capita emissions increased unabated, and as the country’s parched, salty soils continued to dry out, ‘climate change’ was dismissed as yet another latte-leftist bogeyman, at least until it became an excuse to set up a nuclear industry for Coalition cronies.

    But we can forgive him for all the deciet, because he was ‘good for the economy’. Although he can hardly take credit for fiscal restraint or productivity growth, or any substational reform beyond taxation and individual contracts. Howard and ‘best treasurer ever’ Costello enjoyed lying in a hammock for eleven years, with Labor having done the hard yards of floating the dollar, reducing tariffs, setting up superannuation and ending centralized wage fixing, and with a commodity price boom picking up the slack for a services economy with a shrinking manufacturing sector. Of course Howard did see a role for the State to play in the economy; a massively expanded welfare system to subsidize middle and upper-class consumption, and of course agrarian socialism for the benefit of environmentally unsustainable farming lifestyles. Telstra was sold off creating a private monopoly in communications and high-speed internet access was created, resulting in some of the worst and most expensive services in the developed world. The pro-government media oligopoly was protected, the ABC stacked with ideological warriors, banks given free reign to rip-off customers any way they could, corporate criminals like James Hardie were defended. Meanwhile public services, benefits for the disadvantaged and investments in infrastructure and human capital were neglected. Taxes flowed into corporate coffers and election-eve marginal seat bribes, while Commonwealth funding to the States decreased over time, stretching State budgets, making public health, education and childcare deliberately inadequate for the competitive advantage of private providers.

    The current account deficit ballooned and private debt exploded to record levels. This enormous debt exposure was encouraged by low interest rates and fueled rampant, uncontrolled inflation in the housing market, which increased the net worth of many home-owners but punished first-home buyers. In 2004, with Rates at their nadir, Howard cannily played the national debt crisis for full political advantage, threatening catastrophic rate rises if Labor came to power, even as he trumpeted his own massive porkathon. The scare-campaign was effective enough to give him control of both houses of Parliament for the first time – now the muzzle came off and he showed his true colors.

    I think that in the end it was winning the Senate that was the Coalitions undoing. They overreached, thinking that now was the chance to crush organized labour for good. WorkChoices represented Howard at his most venal – a draconian attack on the fundamental human right of free association in the workplace, a piece of nineteenth century class warfare vomited up by the Corporatist extremists of the HR Nicholls society. In this petty effort to empower bosses and whittle down the working conditions of ordinary people Howard showed the ‘Battlers’ whose side he was really on. Meanwhile Interests Rates were going up in spite of his bogus, patronizing campaign promise to keep them low. Housing affordability was at an all time low, the prospect of home-ownership ever more remote for those younger Australians whose parents could not afford to provide them with a spare investment home, cleaving open a class divide. His assertion that working families had never been better off rang hollow. A grass-roots campaign for workplace rights had taken off, and not even hundreds of millions of dollars in taxpayer funded advertisements could sell his government’s unpopular policies. The accumulated impression of a decade of lies, pettiness and arrogance from an aging, power-addicted Prime Minister, his bitter deputy Costello, the clowns Abbot and Downer (not to mention yokel in charge of the National Party) were starting to weigh on the camel’s back. The government with its politicized public service shielded itself from any investigation over ministerial incompetance and corruption, but enough evidence was there – it was a government that had pretty much rotted to the core.

    To save itself from tanking polls, Howard tried some of his old tricks to wedge the opposition. Karl Rove’s gay bashing tactic was employed, although absent American levels of bigotry it fell flat. A massive military takeover of indigenous communities was suddenly declared, but no poll bounce resulted. But surely some Battlers would come back to the fold if they just started bashing-up on Sudanese migrants, banning the hijab at airports, or cutting welfare payments to drug addicts. After all, they had nothing positive to offer except a multi-billion cut on bracket creep taxes and another splurge of marginal seat pork-barrelling. Ultimately their re-election platform came down to hysterics that Labor’s “extremists” and “fanatics” would “stuff the economy” with their thuggish “70% union bosses”. When a Big Lie is repeated enough times it does sink in, and it did this time as well, but not enough. He not only lost big but was Brucified. And now that the man and his Big Lie have been dispatched, what is left for the Liberal Party? What happens to a personality cult when its leader is vanquished? Loyalty to Howard was all that held the Party together; by the end, most of the members that held genuinely liberal beliefs were long gone. What remained were some religious nutters, union-bashing fanatics of the HR Nicholls variety, and the type of racist troglodytes that put together the Lindsay pamphlett. A ideologically divided bunch of sycophantic freaks and misfits, out of power in every state, now federally as well. Howard has ended up with the Party he deserves. It will recover, but not before Howard’s stench has faded from memory.

    Of course, I’m sure he will be remembered with some affection by some people. He did manage to cast himself as an elder statesman quite well, and people were prepared to trust him with the management of the country. To his credit, he was more moderate and reasoned than some of the crazies in his government. As a person he wasn’t as anywhere near as demented and psychotic as Bush, although I know that’s not saying much. Of course everything is relative. He brought out some of the worst in Australia, but it always remained a comparatively wonderful place to live, just less than it could have been. I’m glad to see him go, but I will be much, much gladder to see the end of his mainstream-media cheerleading good squad of right-wing pundit morons. The damage that they’ve done to the country’s intellectual and moral fibre can now be addressed as they follow their fallen hero into history.

  2. Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer
    December 4th, 2007 at 11:00 | #2

    Gerard makes Jack S. look succinct.

  3. December 4th, 2007 at 12:03 | #3

    I’m afraid I went to sleep about halfway through Gerad’s first chapter………..ZZzzzzz

  4. Peter Kemp
    December 4th, 2007 at 19:55 | #4

    Extremely well said Gerard. I don’t often save blog posts in html (or other format) but that summary was tops and is now in my docs file.

  5. Muskiemp
    December 4th, 2007 at 20:16 | #5

    Brilliant summary Gerard. Just shows what a fake Howard was.

  6. zoot
    December 4th, 2007 at 21:50 | #6

    while other young men his age were being conscripted for the Vietnam war, Howard was fighting the good fight at home

    I know it’s nitpicking but Ratty was about six years too old to be conscripted – which probably explains his enthusiasm for the Indochinese adventure.

  7. Andrew
    December 5th, 2007 at 07:58 | #7

    Wow Gerard… you must really hate him! Part of me admires your passion but another large part of me is repelled by it. I’ve never really understood why Howard instilled such hate.

    I agree with you that the end came when he won control of the senate to push through WorkChoices which at the end of the day was the reason he lost this election. I know some people would like to think it was Climate Change or Iraq – but my sense is that these were not defining issues for the swinging voters.

    You say he will be remembered with affection by some people – that’s a quaint term. He’s a politician, I doubt that many people view politicians with affection! However, it is worth remembering that almost half the country voted for him – despite your litany of sins.

    The King is dead, long live the King. Rudd/Howard/Rudd/Howard/Rudd/Howard – say it fast enough and they blend into one. Rudd got elected becuase he successfully claimed the middle ground that Howard drifted away from in his last term.

    I suspect that in the fullness of time, Howard will be remembered as one of Australia’s most successfull PMs – presiding over a period of immense prosperity and growth in wealth for most Australians.

    We are all more ‘relaxed and comfortable’. Howard’s lasting legacy is that Australia has become an even more prosperous nation that is now far more sure of its place in the world. We’ve lost that inferiority complex that characterised much of our past – the ‘British’ outpost stuck at the South end of Asia.

  8. Chris Lloyd
    December 5th, 2007 at 18:59 | #8

    Harry, Your claim about LO goes completely against the conventional wisdom. So giving a source is not some favour you are doing me and other readers. It is required mate. An academic should know that.

    I did read your Andrew Bolt link. The links on his post are to…other comments by Andrew Bolt. It is about as convincing as a David Irving link on the Holocaust. The man has very little credibility when it comes to culture war issues.

    So as I understand it, your claim is that Andrew Bolt said that LO’s nephew said that she is not technically stolen. Hopefully other future reader of this blog and your will keep this little exchange in mind when they judge the authority of your commentary.

    Hopefully other commenters who read this blog will keep this exchange in mind when they are judging the credibility of your comments.

  9. Chris Lloyd
    December 5th, 2007 at 19:03 | #9

    JQ: Can you get wordpress to place a word limit on comments? 2860 words! Gerard needs to start his own blog.

  10. Jill Rush
    December 5th, 2007 at 20:47 | #10

    HC,
    You state you prefer truth to lies and yet you misrepresent what I have said. You have put me in mind of Howard’s legacy where allegations and personal denigration were substituted for evidence and honesty. The other thing was that if there was an important matter that there would be a complete distraction so that the topic at hand was ignored.

    You raised the straw man of the stolen generations. I merely stated that they existed. Howard also liked to pretend that this significant action was insignificant too.

    Your decision to believe a “nephew” who
    a) could not have been there when decisions were made
    b) is a male
    c)may or may not have been related
    is symptomatic of Howard’s legacy where anyone who said anything inconvenient was subjected to personal ridicule. In this case prompted by Lowitja O’Donahue’s forgetfulness of Howard’s name. In turn you have decided to state your belief about her history – as if it is your right to appropriate someone else’s history. This is the saddest part of Howard’s legacy – the belief that personal denigration is debate.

  11. jack Strocchi
    December 5th, 2007 at 21:17 | #11

    Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer Says : December 4th, 2007 at 11:00 am

    Gerard makes Jack S. look succinct.

    Gerard makes Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer look witty.

  12. December 6th, 2007 at 04:45 | #12

    I didn’t vilify you Jill, I suggested you were wrong.

    Lowitja now does not decribes herself as a member of the ‘stolen generations’. She is ‘separated’. I would prefer ‘rescued’.

    It is interesting to me that you believe the truthfulness of someone’s claim re the stolen generations depends on their gender. Even Lowitja’s nephew is suspect – so I guess your views as a female intrinsically carry more weight.

    While I didn’t vilify you that’s what you did to me:

    ‘You have put me in mind of Howard’s legacy where allegations and personal denigration were substituted for evidence and honesty’.

    But I did put up evidence – you put up none just some diversion.

    I can see this discussion going nowhere. I don’t think you have a commitment to the truth – only to defending your prejudices.

    Chris Lloyd, You have not refuted anything that Andrew Bolt claims with alternative evidence – a bit difficult anyway since Lowitja agrees with his claim that she is not ‘stolen’.

    Also, Godwin’s Law yet once again plus asides on climate change that have zero to do with the point regarding Lowitja.

  13. Don Wigan
    December 6th, 2007 at 08:13 | #13

    It can get a bit lengthy going over all the things of concern about Howard. I’ll confine myself to one: the politicalisation of the public service. As a former state and commonwealth bureaucrat, I feel this one quite a lot.

    It seems pretty clear that Halton and others were elevated as a reward for their part in the Border Protection/War on The Boat People/ Pacific Solution or some other part in that charade. Political advisers then or just after managed to sneak into the permanent or career-based public service.

    In all public services you will always get a few cowboys tsking the main chance to promotion by earning flavour-of-the-month brownie points. But in Immigration they seemed to have plunged new depths.

    This was spectacularly shown in the treatment of Solon. It almost seemed like there was a stampede to giver her the bum’s rush to deportation.

    No adequate checking or verifying of her details; over-ruling of medical advice that she was unfit to travel; ignoring submissions from the Philippine Embassy that she should not travel; and then discovering the stuff-up a year or so later, but doing nothing. I assume this was on the basis that if nobody discovered it, then nobody’s arse would be affected. The settlement is bound to cost us millions.

    The Comrie report will probably ensure that that culture is killed off, but what a wreck.

  14. 2 tanners
    December 6th, 2007 at 10:10 | #14

    Don,

    Although I agree with your central point, I disagree with citing the Solon case as an illustration. Your facts are right, IMHO, but that culture long predated Howard. They have always been cowboys there and Solon, Rau and other disasters are predicatable consequences of a culture that is decades old. Labor failed to fix it over a 13 year period.

    In that portfolio, a better illustration is Haneef – selective leaking to the press, AFP/Immigration strategies to lock him up if he won his freedom and persecution of the defending lawyer.

    But it’s all over the place. I was frankly surprised that there has been so little disruption to business as usual. I’ll be interested to see if a few of the high profile Howard appointees (Shergold not included) quietly resign over the next few months.

  15. Andrew
    December 6th, 2007 at 11:20 | #15

    2 Tanners,

    I agree that handling of the Haneef case was a stuff-up, but I’m hardly ready to crucify the government over it.

    I would have thought that any ‘reasonable’ person would have viewed Haneef’s behaviour as suspicious. He was linked (albeit tenuously as it turned out) with a terrorist action in the UK, he was intercepted on the internet chatting with a relative in India about getting home ASAP and to ‘tell them nothing’, and within 24 hours of the UK incident was picked up at the airport with a one-way ticket home.

    Hmmm… sounds pretty suspicious to me. As it turned out – it was probably all innocent, he probably was just trying to get home to see hi baby and it was all just an unfortunate coincidence.

    But nonetheless – if you were in Andrews shoes when it was all happening with the info available at the time… you may wel have come to the same conclusions.

  16. Chris Lloyd
    December 6th, 2007 at 12:01 | #16

    “Chris Lloyd, You have not refuted anything that Andrew Bolt claims with alternative evidence.” What evidence? It is just Andrew Bolt making claims. And it is not my job to refute them. John Howard is gay Harry. His ALP voting brother told me so. Refute it.

    I really have no opinion on LO’s background. It may turn out that LO agrees that she is not a fully paid up emmebr of the stolen generations. If that were so, it should be easy to provide plenty of links to believable sources. This whole exchange is pathetic and I think I have made my point clearly enough now that readers will make their own judgement.

  17. Jill Rush
    December 6th, 2007 at 16:48 | #17

    HC,
    I said that I was misrepresented by you. I also said that arguing the person through denigration was a feature of the Howard years. However you started by vilifying LO for no good reason, including refuting LO’s membership of the Stolen Generation which you now say that she doesn’t make this claim, and lastly you claim that you have evidence for all of your claims because Andrew Bolt said so.

    Andrew Bolt himself has a similar idea that you put words into others mouths and then argue that they are mistaken. Howard himself was a master of it. It is a sad legacy.

  18. sdfc
    December 6th, 2007 at 19:52 | #18

    Haneef was bailed by a magistrate, yet the government took an executive decision to incarcerate him anyway.

    It’s funny how silent many of the most vocal of the self proclaimed libertarians have been on this issue.

    Too busy whinging about tax I suppose.

  19. Chris O’Neill
    December 7th, 2007 at 02:01 | #19

    “I would have thought that any ‘reasonable’ person would have viewed Haneef’s behaviour as suspicious.”

    Or just unsurprising.

    “He was linked (albeit tenuously as it turned out) with a terrorist action in the UK,”

    Just not true. He had nothing to do with the action.

    “he was intercepted on the internet chatting with a relative in India about getting home ASAP and to ‘tell them nothing’,”

    Maybe his relative didn’t trust the Federal Police to treat him reasonably. Quite prescient as it turned out.

    “and within 24 hours of the UK incident was picked up at the airport with a one-way ticket home.”

    Hmmm, would you want to hang around if you knew the Federal Police were going to treat you the way they treated Haneef.

    “I agree that handling of the Haneef case was a stuff-up, but I’m hardly ready to crucify the government over it.”

    Well the Opposition decided to crucify Andrews for something, he’s now just a backbencher.

  20. December 11th, 2007 at 05:34 | #20

    I hate John Howard.

    Over the last 11 years I have watched with horror as, with the wider community’s support, Mr. Howard has knocked down and ground mercilessly into the dirt our poorest and most vulnerable.

    I’m not sure which is most disconcerting; the fact he had a genuine mandate to do the things he did in Government, or the fact the community can turn inwards upon itself as it did so under his reign.

    Howard will not be remembered with any fondness or nostalgia, he ran this country like an accountant. Our books may be balanced but at what cost?

    I am looking forward to The Greens and Labor ripping up the last 11 years of your vile ‘social reforms’ Mr Howard.

    I hate you.

  21. Simmo
    December 11th, 2007 at 07:36 | #21

    steve at the pub says: “I can understand the war in Iraq being unpopular by those with no moral compass. But to say it is “illegalâ€?? And just who is declaring it “illegalâ€??”

    steve, just about every country apart from the US, Britain and Australia declared it illegal and were opposed to the war. It’s a clear violation of international law… Furthermore there was absolutely no justification for it (they have changed the pretext for war on three ocassions – from WMDs that were never there, to expanding democracy to removing Saddam. They have never officially revealed their true motivation for going to war tho, OIL). Cast your mind back to Colin Powell’s disgraceful presentation at the UN, which has now been proved to be pure fiction. Also think of how just about everyone connected with the war have now lost their jobs (George Dubya and the whole republican party pending). No one in the international community (and most ppl within Oz and the US) think this war is legitimate. Steve if you think that going to war (and this one has destroyed millions of people and an entire country)on clearly false pretenses is ok, it is you that has completely lost your moral compass.

  22. Andrew
    December 11th, 2007 at 08:48 | #22

    Chris #119,

    What a strange piece of circular logic…. Haneef’s suspicious behaviour is not suspicious because of the way that the AFP treated Haneef?

    Run that by me again?

    Stuart #120,

    Mate – you need to relax. You need to become more ‘relaxed and comfortable’. Howard has gone – he’s been voted out by the marvellous thing called Western Liberal Democracy. What a wonderful country we live in. Happy retirement John. Best wishes for a long PMship Kevin.

  23. Chris O’Neill
    December 11th, 2007 at 21:42 | #23

    “and within 24 hours of the UK incident was picked up at the airport with a one-way ticket home.�

    Hmmm, would you want to hang around if you thought the Federal Police might treat you badly such as, for example, the way they treated Haneef. That doesn’t mean you are clairvoyant about how they are going to treat you, it just means you expect they might treat you badly based on their past behaviour. I’m sure the way they treated Haneef was nothing out of the ordinary. If Haneef knew anything about the anti-terroism laws, he would have a good idea of how outrageously he would be treated.

    Kevin Andrews, backbencher.

    Just wanted to say that again.

  24. Chris O’Neill
    December 11th, 2007 at 22:38 | #24

    steve at the pub says: “I can understand the war in Iraq being unpopular by those with no moral compass.”

    What sort of moral compass does it take to start a war based on a reckless disregard for fact-checking? “moral compass”. Incredible.

  25. Chris O’Neill
    December 11th, 2007 at 22:40 | #25

    “You need to become more ‘relaxed and comfortable’.”

    Been there, done that.

  26. James Retel
    January 1st, 2008 at 15:39 | #26

    Well said Stuart.

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