The Howard record – by those who know.

With a federal election looming, it’s time to look at the record of the Howard Government.

“I’ll accept responsibility for what happens under my Government,” the Prime Minister told Laurie Oakes on Sunday. Fine. So that means he accepts responsibility for:

* Politicisation of the public service

* Degradation of the office of Governor-General

* The inappropriate appointment of a churchman as head of state

* Ministerial attempts to intimidate the judiciary

* Bailing out his a company his brother had an interest in while ignoring others

* Accepting inappropriate donations from business

* Defining “core” and “non-core” commitments

* The “never, ever” GST – implemented with a $200 voucher to help small business

* Increased small business red tape

* Introducing then ignoring the Ministerial Code of Conduct

*
Failure to ignore standards of ministerial accountability – Peter Reith
and the Telecard, Wilson Tuckey’s interventions in support of his son

* An unwillingness to stop the concentration of media ownership

* An unwillingness to allow the proliferation of new forms of media

* Tampa

* SIEV X

* Kids overboard

* Detention of children in interment camps

* Indefinite imprisonment of adults ditto

* Permitting the vilification of 43 loyal Australian elders for exercising their right to disagree with his policies

*
Former ministers with potential conflicts of interest – Peter Reith
with Tenix, Richard Alston with Austereo, Michael Wooldridge with the
Royal College of General Practitioners

* Suspension of habeas corpus for David Hicks and Mamdouh Habib

* The possible subornment of testimony by intelligence personnel over Iraq and weapons of mass distractions

* “Another rule” for his son when it comes to working in the United States

* A free trade agreement that may not be in Australia’s best interests

* Supporting God-bothering hypocrites

* More expensive office and official residence arrangements; and

* Displaying an autocratic style – and a vindictive nature to individuals and groups who seek to cross him.

* Abuse of question time

* Use of taxpayer funds for quasi-election campaigning

*Allowing card-carrying members of the Liberal Party and semi-formal
advisers to top Government figures to pose as independent commentators

* Deriding the Senate and its ability to scrutinise the government

* Introducing an American presidential form of executive government
by stealth and trying to graft American traditions onto the Australian
body politic with flags everywhere and the hand on the heart when the
anthem is sung (although that one appears to have been given short
shrift by the majority of Australians, thank God!)

*The rise of religion in politics

* The rise of the “I didn’t know because nobody informed me ” defence

* Truth Overboard as a way of life in government

* The politicisation of the Defence Forces

* The political firewall concept

*The appearance of the “clarifying letter” which is used to whip
honest speaking MP’s and Public Servants into line and to stymie
criticism

*The rise in importance of personality based, character driven, character assassination politics

* The abuse of FOI requests made by the media with “conclusive certificates” so as to prevent the people from getting the true
picture of the Government’s actions and policies

* The doing by Howard and co. of everything they criticised the
Labor Party of from Opposition, such as wasting taxpayers’ money on
lavish overseas junkets taken on a political whim for nothing so much
as a thinly disguised photo opportunity, staying at all the best
hotels, eating at the best restaurants…

* No more Ministerial accountability or resignations. The buck
appears to float from one anonymous Public Servant to another until the
tumult dies down, whereupon said PS gets a promotion. Miles Jordana, anyone?

* Plausible deniability and upside downisms as a tool of government

* The gay marriage wedge

* The events of October 23rd 2003

* The Ralph “reforms”

* Persecution of the ABC

*A refusal to apologise – even symbolically – to Indigenous Australians

This list is not exhaustive. There’s more. We’d like your ideas. Got
any offerings or suggestions on how what’s already there could be
better worded? Great. Send them to [email protected]