Election Wipeout: Comments on Howard’s Downfall

The Federal election in Australia of the weekend saw the political demise of not just the perceptibly unbreakable Liberal party but also of our staunchly pragmatic Prime Minister John Howard in his own electorate. The election has also effectively rendered the Democrats defunct with not a single member being elected to either the House of Representatives or the Senate. The grossly unpopular Pauline Hanson scored more votes than the softly spoken and passionate QLD democrat Andrew Bartlett. Labour had what some commentators have dubbed a ‘Rudd-slide’ (in reference to the new Prime Minister Kevin Rudd) in their victory, and the Greens, traditionally thought of as the party populated by undesirable wafts of dreadlocked stoners and political extremists belonging to the far, far left, is now looking likely to hold the balance of power in the Senate and can safely be referred to as Australia’s third political force.

So what happened? Was this an issue of personality with Australian’s no longer eager to support the curmudgeon Howard, or worse yet, the ever increasingly pompous Costello? Was it a demographic issue with larger numbers of the polity adversely affected by discernibly arrogant Government policy? Or has there been an ideological shift amongst the Australian public gravitating towards traditionally leftist issues with individuals now nostalgic for social reform and at least elementary attention paid to cultural development, the addressing of hauntingly racist and oppressive associations of contemporary Australian identity, and some serious introspection about humanity’s relationship with the environment?

Your views and opinions are welcome and with Comments now open feel free to contribute your perspective.

Posted by Simon Ives.


6 Responses to “Election Wipeout: Comments on Howard’s Downfall”

  1. 1 Nathan November 27, 2007 at 1:51 am

    I think the interesting thing about this election was the Greens. If I remember correctly The Liberals had the majority of the primary votes, so they can’t have been doing too bad. The “political force” lurking in the shadows proved to be the Greens offering preferential votes to the Labour Party.

    As for the curmudgeon Howard: well, his stubborn ideas have lead a country out of financial turmoil left behind by the last two Labour governments and lowered unemployment. The government led by that crusty old Howard had inflation low at around 4%, unemployment at just over 3% and interest rates around 6 or 7% & paid off 96 billion dollars of debt by making the dollar internationally strong. Both
    Labour Governments at there peak had inflation at about 16% ( Whitlam
    even hit 21%!! ), unemployment at around 13% ( Whitlam hit 18 % ), and had 96 billion dollars of debt because of the cost of imports. Borrowing money overseas to prop up the economy, Keating devalued the dollar to try to make it competetive & it was running at about 67c in the mid nineties. Does anyone remember the recession we had to have? No there’s Federal economics at its best!

    Obviously the best economic policies and unemployment figures aren’t the only factors in losing an election, there’s “arrogant Government policy”, though I’m unsure of what they are. What the Australian public are nostalgic for are Union bullying, that great strength in mediocrity. What mediocrity? Isn’t it interesting that the newly elected Labour Government have already painted themselves into the corner by their association with the Unions. We have Greens senator Bob Brown deludingly asserting the newly elected PM supporting a “No Pulp Mill” in Tasmania. It seems as though senator Brown as left politics and entered into the comedic arena. For Kevin Rudd to keep his word to the political force that is the Greens would be an absolute disaster for the heavily union biased Forestry Industry that keeps the state of Tasmania afloat. Does Rudd say yes to a “No Pulp Mill” in Tasmania and risk union jobs, or does he break his first promise of this election momentarily after winning it? Senator Brown want to hope Australians care about their relationship with the environment or else he will be one disappointed senator. Then again we are going to ratify Kyoto[?]

    There is one thing that I will say about the “haunting racist and oppressive associations” with a contemporary Australian identity. There has been a growing feel of National Socialism amongst the [uneducated; ignorant] Australian youth. This, I feel, reached certain prominence with the Bondi riots. Ironically, the racist doctrines embodied by the Southern Cross scarred youth with their superior morality and culture did not include the native and rightful “owners” of this land in their bigotry, nor did they include them amongst those of other cultural minority groups;left behind again, One Nation indeed!

    I will be the first to admit that the Liberal Party of Australia are far from infallible, though perhaps if the Liberal Party were to keep in touch with the youth of Australia’s ever growing fascination with celebretism, they may just have retained Government.

    [This post was brought to you by our new, ever faster, Broadband services. Thanks Prime Minister Rudd, were would we be without it?]

    P.s. I wonder how he plans to pay for this great service that is faster Broadband, would it be out of the $61 billion savings that reside in the Future’s fund? I certainly hope not.

  2. 2 twisty November 28, 2007 at 8:15 pm


    Nathan, thanks for a great read!! I think Howard beat himself (so to speak). After all this time he thought the super cape was his for good and voting Australia snatched it from him like a jealous sibling.

    Interesting times ahead.

    the “hoi polloi”

    btw Did you vote green?


  3. 3 Nathan November 28, 2007 at 11:28 pm

    Hey Twisty,

    Personally, I think that Howard was in there a little too long. Having said that, however, the only way one can make a “proper” judgement on Labor’s ability to govern is to look at the phenomena. At this point we have all state and territory Labor Governments in debt and at a Federal level, well… I think I made a case for that despite my thereabout ad hoc statistics.

    Obviously there are other factors in voting for a Government: people can argue about “Children Overboard” or “Work Choices”, for example, though if you don’t have a strong economic foundation your country isn’t going to have a future to debate about. (Just as a side note, it is no more fallacious to argue that everyone will be going on strike now we have a Federal Labor Government than it is to suggest that everyone is going to get the sack over Work Choices).

    As for voting for the Greens, I didn’t. I thought my ‘sore loser’ post may have been evidence that I voted Liberal? I just think that Bob Brown may be a little misguided. Tasmania thrives on the Forestry industry, for better or worse; the question that needs to be asked of Senator Brown is, does he have a employment strategy for those who will lose their jobs, and if not, is he willing to negotiate for an “ethically” sustainable pulp mill (whatever that may be)? Rudd has a choice to make over the matter. Either way, I feel as though it will have adverse affects for him.

    You are right, Twisty, interesting times are ahead. I just hope that the newly elected Labor Government won’t repeat the mistakes of the party’s predecessors.

  4. 4 Simon December 15, 2007 at 11:29 am

    Great comment Nath, and I apologise for my delay in replying (seems I’m just as busy in my holidays as any other time during the semester!)

    I disagree with you (but you know that already, hehe) as I’m a Social Democrat. I profoundly disagree with Howard’s Liberal and neo-liberal treatment of the economy. Howard’s admiration for Thatcher, Bush, and that particular, and publicly anonymous, political Philosopher late from the University of Chicago, has driven not just ‘our’ international reputation but our emerging National culture into disrepute.

    I do agree with you re: the Labour Party however. While I did vote for Rudd, just ’cause I thought it the most pragmatic method to have Howard removed, the Labour Party is far, far from perfect. I do think it unfair to present such a cursory glance, though, at National economics under Labour Governments as the Dollar wasn’t even floated against the US under Whitlam, and even though while under Howard interest rates were lower, the average household now has substantially more debt and spends more of their income paying it off than under any Labour Government. What’s better: interest rates at 16% with a mortgage of $100,000 or interest rates at 7% and a mortgage of $500,000? The housing boom, and subsequent crisis, is undoubtedly on of the reasons for Howard’s downfall.

    Anyhow, this is getting a little off track for a philosophical discussion. I’ve outlined above that I’m a Social Democrat, does anyone else want to elaborate upon their political persuasion and how it may benefit Australia?

  5. 5 Alvinld March 19, 2008 at 6:42 pm

    Brilliant text.., brother

  1. 1 Politics « MQPhil Trackback on December 19, 2007 at 10:30 am

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