“As a Government, we’ve made decisions in the past 11 years that impact directly on the lives of Australians. No doubt we’ve made our mistakes. All governments do.” – John Winston Howard.
Never were truer words written or uttered.
There’s the ‘never-ever’ GST; expeditionary war on behalf of a foreign power; Workchoices; creation of South Pacific gulags for refugees in response to international human rights obligations; fostering of furore on the waterfronts at the expense of workers, condoning of corruption by a major exporter in its dealings with a power we were at war with. The list is long and distasteful. Yet this man claims to be the best friend workers have ever had, a mate to families and sympathetic to the question of work-life balance. The so-called ‘barbeque-stopper’ which Australia has never seen a resolution to since Howard first broached it five years ago. Rather than attempt to address a social issue – something a conservative mindset simply cannot grasp, let alone address rationally – we’ve embarked upon a process of stripping away workers basic rights and benefits, supposedly in exchange for filthy lucre, which continues to be eroded by a taxation system creaking and groaning under the weight of margin creep and a forty year old basic structure. So much for the work-life balance.
Combine these so-called ‘reforms’ with a constant environment of fear and loathing over ‘terrorists’, muslims, North Korean megalomania, Iranian mediocrity and above all else, wall-to-wall Labor governments unless we voters are gullible enough to re-elect this ageing excuse for a fireside horror story, and you most definitely have a government which has directly impacted Australian lives in the most detrimental manner since Robert Menzies sold scrap metal to Japan over the ire of Australian workers in 1938. The really worrisome aspect of our pint-sized PM being that he actually models himself on Menzies.
Howard claims in his headline speech yesterday, which even has a title no less, that his ideological and political opponent’s brand of politics is one “without hard choices, without trade-offs and without unintended consequences. A politics of gestures and good intentions and little else.” Bannerman says that hard choices are those that have potential to damage your power base, in Rudd’s case, the Union movement and clearly, he hasn’t received garlands of flowers over his IR announcement of last week. In that one announcement alone lie enormous trade-offs. Equally, it is damn nigh impossible to provide substance to any policy when you’re in opposition, without the means and ability to make your plans into reality. That is certainly not to say that those plans and policies aren’t do-able, aren’t economic and aren’t achievable. A national braodband service is very do’able and of great benefit to all Australians. Education also needs some radical reforms and if those reforms put the standards of Federalism to the test, then so be it. No one can claim that Howard hasn’t sorely tested the strength of Federalism over the past 11 years.
Howard’s speech might have appealed to the rusted-on and even has a cutesy title but when it’s read, there’s nothing of substance in it other than one motherhood statement after another and justification, if such a thing can actually be apportioned to this governments failures, of eleven years of mediocrity from a moribund collective of born-to-rule conservatives. Howard even tries to make excuses, in an arse-about-face manner, for his climate change scepticism, while claiming that Rudd et al are merely jumping at shadows when scientific realities are staring him, Howard, right in the face.
It’s time to go, John Howard. You’re tired, your governmental style is tired and we’re tired of you. We’re all grown up now, we voters of Australia. We don’t need your fear and loathing anymore than we want your soft-soap and motherhood speeches. If you’re smart, you’ll get out on top while the getting’s good, but Bannerman is betting that for all your guile, you’re not as smart as some might think.