Sunday, November 25, 2007

Farewell, Dear John, Dear Friend of freedom and Good Luck mate!

So Labor's Kevin Rudd did it.
And now John Howard is no longer PM of Australia and probably no longer the member for Bennelong.
Can't say I'd be too upset now if Howard did lose his seat.
After such a dignified speech last night , I feel John Howard can walk straight off the stage with huge amounts of respect and honour and with all our thanks.
He can take a much earned break with his family till he prepares for his next chapter in life.
Despite the scale of the defeat- emphatic but not a landslide- the Great Aussie Battler still has much dignity, or much mana, as we kiwis also say.
John Howard has a record to be proud of and it is indeed that record of economic stewardship that Kevin Rudd appears determined not to destroy.
Howard and Costello have delivered a much richer country, a more secure country, along with better public services.
Of course, Australians expect more from their politicians than we do. They are so easy to complain. And I guess the time for a change factor was strong.
Despite lefty talk of ending discrimination, ageism remains rife, dressed up in talk of the future, fresh starts, and change.
Change will obviously have to be a mantra for National here too in 2008, with a fresh, young and dynamic John Key contrasting against an old, tired and failing Helen Clark.
But even the greatest of leaders can outstay their welcome.
As a Pom, I recall the great service and the good things done to Britain by former UK prime minister Margaret Thatcher, who resigned 17 years ago this week after a simialr 11.5 years in office.
Yet, her previous victories perhaps gave Margaret Thatcher too much courage or confidence to go too far, or at least further than what the people wanted.
This is where the matter of Work Choices will have contributed to Howards defeat.
With freedom comes responsibility. Giving employers the upper hand, more freedom to dictate the workplace, can lead to trouble.
In Australia, earlier this year, I recall one bar charging customers a surcharge for it being open on Anzac Day but the bar staff were not getting paid extra for working the public holiday.
The media hyped up this story for all it is worth and I don't know how common such cases were. But if employers were abusing Work Choices too much to their own advantage, it is inevitable that the 'workers' would get their own back by electing a government that will replace Work Choices with something more akin to the old-style Awards.
I have often argued with unionists that 'market forces work both ways' benefitting the worker too, but if the employer or employers seek to grab all the benefit themselves then it is likely workers will support a more collectivist solution.
Now, how the union dominated Labor Party will respond to Work Changes remains to be seen.
Kevin Rudd has created the image of a moderate, a social conservative even, Howard-Lite maybe, with so many 'me too' polices, such as taxcuts.
I have even heard of some comparisons with an Australian Tony Blair.
The right, upset as we are at Howard's end, can take some comfort.
Extreme leftism, which may well be lurking within Labor from the likes of deputy-PM Julia Gillard and Peter Garrett, has been defeated somewhat.
Rudd has had to slay many Labor dragons to help him gain office. But now he is safely elected PM, will he continue to keep them at bay, or will they rise up and burn him?
This is the challenge Rudd has in the years ahead. Labor has to maintain and enhance the economic success of the Howard and Costello years. He has to show he is worthy of the trust Australia has invested in him.
True, there will be calls from the left for extra state spending- and he has pledged to sign Kyoto- but if Rudd can maintain a moderate stance that allows Austraia to carry on with its correct and prosperous course, he has the makings of a successful and good prime minister.
In Britain, Tony Blair and Gordon Brown managed to maintain a steady, safe and prudent course, until the temptation to spend became too much. We saw something similar happen with Clark and Cullen in New Zealand.
The real radicalism didn't happen until the second term. And this is the prize that awaits Rudd, if he and Labor don't upset the apple cart too much.
For the Coalition, Australia and the world can and should offer the best wishes to the devotion to Australia shown by John Howard.
Let us hope something exciting and of value awaits him in future, something more worthy of Howard's talents than being a mere backbencher. Something on the world stage, perhaps.
Peter Costello, Howard's anointed successor, faces a tough task ahead as he must rebuild a Liberal party, which doesn't even control any states either.
I am sure Costello is up to the task. But judging by the support won by Malcolm Turnbull, it might well be him who leads the Liberals to future victory.
Finally, as we hope for a new and successful chapter for John Howard, let us leave with the concession speech of Dick Tuck who, upon losing a California state senate primary, said simply, "The people have spoken…the bastards."
I can't see John Howard saying anything like that, can you?

UPDATE: Here's an editorial from the Sunday Star-Times noting the 'tweedledee-tweedledum' nature of Rudd and Howard. And here's David Farrar kicking off the debate at kiwiblog.
UPDATE2: Costello says he's not standing for the leadership or deputy leadership, so a new generation can lead. Looks like Turnbull for leader but like some at kiwiblog, I rate Tony Abbott highly too.


Andrei said...

Jim Bolger said "bugger the polls" when he lost

Ackers said...

Can't see anyone but Turnbull taking over from here. Costello confirms the loser wimp he always was by his actions today. He seemed deleriously happy last night when claiming victory in his own seat, unfortunately it looked like he was as happy as the rest of us that Howard had lost.

Brendan Nelson, Julie Bishop and Alex Downer have all been put forward as interim prospects for the poisoned chalice that is the Liberal party leadership. All they do is reinforce the notion that it is a party past it's use by date, each and every one of them carrying baggage we are hoping to leave behind.

A wonderful night Adolf. We opened the Moet when Maxine made her appearance at party headquarters in Bennelong. Has there ever been a more joyous moment for us true believers.

Howard travelling from Kirribilli House to the Wentworth Hotel in the city to make his concession speech symbolised perfectly the reason he lost his own seat.

Bennelong Johnnie, that's where you needed to be on the night, not sitting in your harbourside bunker ignoring the very people that elected you!!!

Heine said...

I am interested to see how this will affect the economy. I would measure this as the peak point right now - and wonder if Rudd make it better or worse.

If the unions get their payback from 11 years on the outer, then I know exactly what will happen!

KG said...

ackers, when John Howard wakes up this morning, he'll still be the second-longest serving Australian PM and one who has the respect and affection of people all over the world.
On the other hand, when a lefty scumbag wakes in the morning, he's still just a lefty scumbag....

Ackers said...

KG, I suspect he would rather have the votes of the Australian electorate.....seems like we were waiting with our baseball bats after all.


Ackers is entitled to his gloat and he has been consistent in his predictions.
As for Maxine Mckeown, sorry Ackers but I was almost puking over what seemed like her acceptance speech.
She was talking about the people she had met campaigning from the blind 80yo , to a little lad called Ali.
I thought she was an ABC heavyweight for serious news but it was pure tabloid trash Womans Day from her.
McKeown is entitled to feel proud in her achievement of defetaing one of the most successful Aussie PM's in recent history.
But she seemed to have a certain arrogance in her tone, so i hope she does not let her win go to her head.
Listening to her maudling comments it was more a case of thinking 'pass the sickbag Alice' than thinking here's a fresh face for the future.

KG said...

I don't begrudge ackers his gloat, Adolf :-)
Partly because I think the Libs needed a wake-up call--they'd become complacent and smug, taking the people who elected them for granted, as governments which have been in power for a while tend to do.
No problems with the spring-cleaning, but I expect Australia now to slide into the same trough of mediocrity as NZ under the lefties, frothing at the mouth over non-existent "climate change", charging taxpayers for the ineffectual fix to an imaginary problem while they pat themselves on the back as they ratchet up the PC bullshit that's got this country by the throat.
A high price to pay for rejuvenating a party.

KG said...

aargh! sorry, I mean Fairfacts.
(night shift--it fries the brain)

Ackers said...

Interesting observation Fairfacts. Our wee party on Saturday night were pretty much all political tragics so a cynical lot and none of us thought Maxine lightweight or maudlin but that may have been the Moet! I guess if it was John Winston saying something similar our fingers would have been down our throats, we are I guess all partisan to a core.

It seems like he probably would have held the seat if Jackie Kelly had managed to keep her mouth shut and hubby locked up. According to both Labor and Liberal polling a fair few votes shifted on Thursday night after the shenannigans in Lindsay. Bennelong has one of the highest concentrations of Asians in Sydney so any hint of a racist scandal was always going to be problematic for the Libs.


Yes, that smear letter was pretty despicable and the Libs certainly paid the price.
I think the husband is too.
Didn't I hear that Jackie kelly is on the verge of divorcing her husband because of it.
That asaide, there is a wider issue.
Immigrants voting left.
It obviously happens in Australia and it happens in Europe too.
I have always found 'Asians' , for example, very enterprising so I find that contradictory with their support for left-wing parties.
Other ethnic groups tend to be much into 'family values' so you think Howard might appeal to them.
What can the liberal-right do to appeal to immigrants.
And if countries are to have larger numbers of immigrants or ethnic groups, then the right is doomed if they cannot reach out to them in some way.
I don't like the idea of ethnic groups voting one way or the other en masses, as seems to happen. It should be down to the individual, but what can the liberal-right do to encourage such individuality.
After all, even hoard's most trenchant critics- see Guardian piece above from Psycho Milt- has noted Howard let in record numbers of immigrants.