Has Australia lost it’s moral compass, as postulated by Paul Keating?
Frankly, I don’t believe so. Australia is as moral a nation as she has ever been. It’s political leadership which has become misguided and misled by a sharply defined un-Australian political ideology and the examples put forth by Keating and others over recent times to describe the often offensive and reprehensible actions of the Howard government over 11.5 years, most in direct contravention of general opinion of a majority of Australians, are clear evidence of that movement away from what the Australian ethic stands for. Children Overboard, the Pacific Solution, Iraq Expeditionary Adventures, lies over WMD, AWB, Ethanol gladhanding, Uranium pushes, David Hicks, Vivian Solon, Rau, Haneef and the list goes on. All of these issues were either denied by Howard and his disciples, ignored or dismissed as non-events despite media pressures for honesty and responsibility. Therein lies the real concern for moral rectitude, or lack thereof. It’s not that the issues occurred, but that they occurred in direct opposition to popular opinion and in the main, were accompanied by a plethora of lies and misdirection from government sources.
That a majority of Australians found these issues of sufficient concern to openly and physically protest, as in the case of the Iraq War adventure, David Hick’s treatment at the hands of American politics, the refugee issues, speaks volumes for the fact that that majority retains its moral compass in the face of decidedly unethical and immoral behaviour from the Howard government. Many will claim that it wasn’t immorality but a simple case of political ideology. My response to that claim would be that the ideology itself is immoral, and it’s to this point which Keating writes.
What I find so terribly sad about anything Paul Keating has to say on the subject of conservative politics, and in particular John Howard’s brand of conservatism, is his (Keatings) undying, burning personal hatred of the little man. Keating lost any real credibility on matters of political commentary when he lost the 1996 election and failed to retire gracefully from the field of battle. Malcolm Fraser managed the feat following his own resounding defeat by Bob Hawke in the early eighties. Consequently, anything Fraser has to say today carries some weight, especially when he criticises his own party. Keating, while colourful and pointed in his rhetoric, simply cannot let go of the angst he personally holds for John Howard.
He’s perfectly right when he describes the moral failings of the Howard era, but who’s going to read the real context unless he drops the personal affront?