Friday, 16 November 2007

John Howard: Slimy since 1955.

John Howard is the most loathsome Prime Minister in Australian history. This dubious honour was once unassailably held by Sir Robert “Pig-Iron” Menzies*; the “Queen & Country” jingoist who resigned his commission at the start of the First World War to avoid the horrors of the Front.

As is all too often the case with his type, Menzies' cowardice didn't prevent him enthusiastically supporting Australia's participation in the carnage of WWI, and as a student he actively (but unsuccessfully, thank God) campaigned for the introduction of conscription. Not that Menzies ever forgot the issue: fifty years later he was able to bypass the messy democratic niceties observed in the years before he seized power. Instead of holding a public referendum, as occurred in 1916 & 17, Pig-iron Bob simply rammed the National Service Act (1964) through parliament and conscripted young Australian men to their deaths in Vietnam.

No, Menzies takes some beating when it comes to the prize for worst Australian PM, but John Winston Howard more than meets the challenge. Viewed on their own, the Children Overboard Affair; the Australian Wheat Board scandal, in which bribes of around $AUD290 million ($US258 million) were paid to Saddam Hussein’s regime in blatant contravention of UN sanctions; or ignoring expert advice on weapons of mass destruction in order to drag Australia into war as George W. Bush’s “deputy sheriff” (we were later magnanimously promoted to the rank of fully fledged sheriff) - are each enough to at least earn Howard the prize as runner-up, but when combined, and then added to his appalling mismanagement of the environment, human rights, the economy (why have interest rates risen six times since he promised his government’s economic prowess would ensure no further increases?) and workplace relations… I won’t go on, but I could. Howard is the worst. Indisputably.

Fortunately all the polls indicate he’ll be gone after Saturday 24 November. If only the damage he’s caused could go with him, but instead we’ll be paying the price of that for decades to come. Yet the writing was on the wall concerning Howard years ago: in 1955 he appeared as a 16 year old contestant on Jack Davey's top-rating radio show "Give it a Go". Here’s a brief excerpt:

All the tell-traits of the man known to his fellow party members as “the Rodent” (and to one former PM as “the unflushable turd”) are there; the smarmy arrogance, the smirking ignorance, and the cock-sure disregard for others. In little Johnny’s world not much has changed since 1955: his religion has shifted from Methodism to Sydney Anglicanism (yep – he’s also one of them), but that’s about it.

John Howard won 100 bars of soap for his efforts on radio that day. Obviously none of it was ever used to wash his mouth out for lying. Pity; we all might have been spared a lot of heartache and bloodshed if someone had just taught him that telling the truth does matter.

*Menzies is Howard's hero. Google and see for yourself.


Brian R said...

I agree totally. Where did you get that radio excerpt? To think such an ignoramus became leader of this country. The day he sent troops to Iraq, I buried the Aussie flag in a drawer. When he was re-elected, I decided I did not want to be an Aussie anymore if Australians could continue to vote for a war criminal. Hopefully the flag will come out of the drawer next Sunday but I fear some disaster will happen. Whatever happens, I hope to be a Kiwi before too long.

Alcibiades said...

The sound clip tok a fair bit of hunting down - I remembered hearing it on radio a couple of years ago and so it just became a case of pestering enough people with access to the right archives.

Whatever happens in the election can't change the fact that Howard has made many Australians so ashamed of our own country that we can never feel the same way about it again.