The Howard’s Legacy
By Ghali Hassan, Dec 8, 2007, 12:35
For a decade, Australians have been living under a right-wing, semi-fascist and racist Liberal government, led by an egomaniac John Winston Howard. In order to win elections, the Howard’s gang manipulated the public, instilled fear and incited hatred against marginalised communities, including the small community of Arab and Muslim Australians. Racism has been the way that elections have been won in Australia since 1996.
In the past four elections, John Howard skilfully employed deception and scapegoating. With insatiable appetite for racism and bigotry, Australians were largely receptive to an agenda of racism and division, though deluged with propaganda and deceit. In the 2007 elections, Howard’s gang tried to use the same recipe of scaremongering and fear tactics, but failed because most Australians found John Howard to be a dishonest and deceptive politician.
First, it was the Indian-born Doctor, Mohamed Haneef who was employed at the Gold Coast Hospital. Dr Haneef was unfairly and viciously accused of supporting “terrorism”. Although, he was found to be innocent and all charges against him were dropped, he was illegally deported from Australia. The aim was to demonise the Muslim community and use Dr Haneef as a pawn to create fear in the community and garner support for the Liberal Party.
Secondly, the Howard’s government thought to use the conflict in Darfur in its elections’ campaign. With Sudan demonised by inherently racist mainstream media, there could be no better scapegoat to manipulate Australians than the Sudanese refugees in Australia. Despite the violent crimes against the Sudanese community, Howard’s Minister of Immigration Kevin Andrews deliberately accused Sudanese youth of crimes and inability to adapt to “Australian values”. Having had enough of Howard’s and his gang of attack dogs, the Queensland Premier, Anna Bligh, protested this form of racism. Premier Bligh rightly called Andrews a “racist” and compared his comments with the Deep South in the U.S. in the 1950s. She provided police statistics that show the opposite of what Andrews alleged. The Queensland Premier said: “It has been a long time since I have heard such a pure form of racism out of the mouth of any Australian politician”, let alone the immigration minister of a country made entirely of immigrants and old stock of convicts.
Finally, just few days before the 2007 elections’ day, the Liberal Party desperately used racism against Muslim Australians to tap into the anti-Muslims sentiment which has become a daily diet, particularly in Sydney’s western and southern suburbs, where the “Howard’s battlers” and many of the State hardcore racists congregated. Pamphlets, allegedly from a fictitious ‘Islamic Australia Organisation’, were printed and distributed in the electorate of Lindsay from the home of the New Zealand-born Liberal MP Jackie Kelly by her husband Gary Clark and two other high profiles senior officials of the Liberal Party, Jeff Egan (New South Wales Liberal executive), and Tony Craig. The aim was not only to discredit the Labor Party, but to spread fear and incite hatred against Muslim and Arab Australians. It is part of the wider fascist-Zionist campaign that plagued the minds of most Western societies today.
On the economy, the Howard’s government often bragged about its legacy of ‘managing’ Australian economy. But, a glance into the Howard’s government ‘achievements’ shows it is a myth. In 1996, the Howard’s government inherited a well-managed economy at an average inflation rate of 2.5 per cent. During the Howard government, the rich got richer and the poor got poorer. The top 20 per cent of Australian household have an average annual income of $225,000 while the bottom 20 per cent average just $22, 000, with over a million “working poor” with some work but not enough to live a decent way of life. A report by the Australian Council of Social Services (ACOSS) reveals that, “the number of Australian living in poverty rose from 7.6 per cent to 9.9 percent between 1994 and 2004”. The report compared Australia with the rest of the developed world on issues, including education, health and housing .
Howard legacy is also marked by the following: 1) the introduction of the GST (Howard pledged that he would “never, ever” introduce); 2) the anti-Muslims “terrorism Law” legalising discrimination and police harassment against Muslim and Arab Australians; 3) the anti-workers law (WorkChoices) and; 4) the introduction of the racially and ideologically motivated National Emergency Response Bill to take-over Aboriginal land in Northern Territory. (See: Axis of Logic, Sep 1, 2007).
During his term of prime minister, Howard developed a hatred for democracy. As media commentator David Marr noted: “Since 1996, Howard has cowed his critics, muffled the press, intimidated the ABC, gagged scientists, silenced non-government organisations, neutered Canberra’s mandarins, curtailed parliamentary scrutiny, censored the arts, banned books, criminalised protest and prosecuted whistleblowers” , is evident of an authoritarian government fuelled by social exclusion and division.
That is said; the 2007 elections were as usual, an all Anglo-Celtic elections affair. The elections ritual and the results provided a glimpse into a shallow “multicultural” Australia. The newly-elected Labor (Right) government is just another group of white Anglo-Celtic elites. They won government because they were able to neutralise Howard’s agenda by identifying the Labor Party agenda with the Liberal Party agenda. The “Me Too” campaign was crucial factor. In addition, Labor capitalised on pledges to ratify the Kyoto Protocol and to abolish the draconian laws known as WorkChoices. Further, the Australian Green Party preferences to Labor were also key factor in Labor’s win.
To suggest the new government of Kevin Rudd will be different from any Liberal government post John Howard is grossly misleading. The Labor Party is a lite Liberal party dominated by the Right faction. Take a look at some of the states Labor governments. For example, the NSW State Government is Labor, but ‘Labor’ is always a misnomer. It is a Liberal right-wing government, with an agenda not dissimilar from that of the Howard’s agenda. The same goes for Western Australia – the country’s cesspool of racism and political corruption. The State Labor government there is an extreme right-wing government. It is also the only state where Liberals outvoted Labor in the 2007 elections. In sum, the Rudd’s Labor Government is void of what a truly Labor government stands for. It remains to be seen whether Prime Minister-elect Kevin Rudd is a Tony Blair or a John Howard or cross between the two in sheep’s clothing.
Kevin Rudd’s pledge to start “stage withdrawal” of some 500 Australian soldiers has nothing to do with Labor’s concern for the mass slaughter of Iraqi civilians. It is political opportunism designed for public consumption. Australia’s complicity in the Iraq’s massacre is opposed by the majority of Australians. Some 1000 soldiers, including navy and air force units will continue supporting the U.S. murderous Occupation. Rudd’s aim is ‘to implement an exit strategy’ for troops who are ‘needed much closer to home’, enforcing Australia’s role as imperialism’s “Deputy Sheriff” in East Timor and the Pacific.
If Rudd is serious, the Labor Government should bring John Howard before an Australian court or the International Court of Justice to face war crimes charges for knowingly misleading the Australian public about Iraq and sending Australian troops to take part in the mass slaughter of innocent Iraqi civilians.
The Howard’s legacy will be remembered as a decade of right-wing, semi-fascist and racist government characterised by one egomaniac leader whose first priority has been his re-election, rather than doing anything for Australia. Under Howard, Australia has become a meaner and more divided country. Howard will be remembered (if ever) by most Australians as a divisive and deceptive prime minister. Good riddance.
Ghali Hassan is an independent writer living in Australia.
 Australia Fair (2007, August). A fair go for all Australians: International comparisons, 2007, 10 essentials. Australian Council of Social Service: Sydney, Australia. PDF