Commentator Bias/predisposition
Rating the PM’s
performance

Verdict
Shaun Carney:
Doing it his way
(The Age)
Economic management: 8
Social cohesion: 7
Honesty & fairness: 5
Political skill: 9
Place in history: 8
“Howard has confounded the doubters in a multi-dimensional way. He
has not only overseen a sustained period of Coalition government, he
has overturned many of the most potent orthodoxies of national
politics.”

Average rating: 7.4

Gerard Henderson:
Sober, but a power walker for reform
(The SMH)
Economic management: 8
Social cohesion: –
Honesty & fairness: –
Political skill: 8
Place in history: 10
“The Prime Minister’s policy agenda makes him the most significant Liberal leader.”

Average rating: 8.6

Christian Kerr: Drifting in stagnant waters
(The Age)
Economic management: 7
Social cohesion: 3
Honesty & fairness: 2
Political skill: 6
Place in history: 4
“He can stay on, untaxed, herding mediocre ministers and leading a
visionless government, watching his rivals exhaust themselves with
frustration. The Prime Minister seems content to coast into history.
Instead, he should be on the alert for atrophy.”

Average rating: 4.4

Mike Steketee:
Richer, harsher decade
(The Australian)
Economic management: 7
Social cohesion: 3
Honesty & fairness: 3
Political skill: 8
Place in history: 6
“We can congratulate his government on its economic successes. We
can acknowledge Howard as a reformer in areas such as industrial
relations, taxation and family policy, even while debating the merits
of the changes. But we should also look at the blots on his record.”

Average rating: 5.4

Tony Stephens:
Our new mean streak
(The SMH)
Economic management: 8
Social cohesion: 3
Honesty & fairness: 4
Political skill: 7
Place in history: 5
“The nation has changed greatly during the Howard years, and John Howard has led much of that change.”

Average rating: 5.4
Hugh Mackay:
Howard: an ordinary bloke who feeds a nation’s prejudices
(The Age)
Economic management: –
Social cohesion: 3
Honesty & fairness: 2
Political skill: 9
Place in history: 5
“Under Howard, we have become less compassionate, less tolerant and
more uninhibited in the expression of ethnic and religious prejudice.”

Average rating: 4.75

Mike Carlton:
All hail the emperor of snake-oil salesmen
(The SMH)
Economic management: 3
Social cohesion: 3
Honesty & fairness: 3
Political skill: 7
Place in history: –
“Invoking threats from without and within, his stunning political
triumph has been to get ordinary Australians to vote for him against
their own best interests.”

Average rating: 4

Malcolm Maiden:
Some guys have all the luck
(The Age)

Economic management: 7
Social cohesion:
Honesty & fairness:
Political skill: 5
Place in history: 7
“The Prime Minister has reigned during one of the greatest periods
of prosperity in Australia’s history but, for all the kudos, the
success is not all of his making.”

Average rating: 6.3

Michael Gordon:
Staying the distance
(The Age)
Economic management: 6
Social cohesion: 6
Honesty & fairness: –
Political skill: 9
Place in history: 6
“Only a very few (political stayers) manage to convey the mix of
home-spun humility and ordinariness and the almost unwavering self
belief that is, and has always been, the mark of John Winston Howard.”

Average rating: 6.8

Michelle Grattan:
He rates – but how high?
(The Age)
Economic management: 7
Social cohesion: 6
Honesty & fairness: –
Political skill: 8
Place in history: 5
“Of postwar PMs, some will be as forgotten in later decades as
George Reid and Joseph Cook are today… Others’ marks will survive…
Menzies, Whitlam, Hawke and Howard will all be seen as contributors in
very different ways. So where should Howard be rated in the list? Sorry
to squib it, but I think we have to wait and see Howard’s end.”

Average rating: 6.5

Max Walsh:
Pilot error
(The Bulletin)
Economic management: 6
Social cohesion: –
Honesty & fairness: –
Political skill: 6
Place in history: 6
“(His) anniversary celebration has been marred by some serious
issues that raise questions about (his) government’s most important
assets – its competence and professionalism.”

Average rating:6

Laurie Oakes:
Humble in the Jungle
(The Bulletin)
Economic management: 7
Social cohesion: –
Honesty & fairness: 5
Political skill: 9
Place in history: 9

“Part of Howard’s genius is to look like a reasonable man even
when he is engaged in the rankest political opportunism …He just
happens to have been the smartest politician of his generation.”

Average rating: 7.5

Judith Brett:
Howard: man of this moment
(The Age)
Economic management: –
Social cohesion: 9
Honesty & fairness: –
Political skill: 8
Place in history: 7
“A key reason for Howard’s political success has been his skill at
reworking the language and symbols of Australian nationalism to give
the Liberal Party a plausible language of unity and social cohesion.”

Average rating: 8

Nick Gruen:
Howard’s economics
(Henry Thornton)
Economic management:6
Social cohesion:
Honesty & fairness:
Political skill:6
Place in history:6
“Despite the commentariat’s confidence in his political ascendancy,
I expect Howard’s more modest view is wiser – that his position is not
impregnable to political or economic misfortune.”

Average rating:6

Paul Kelly:
The sweetest anniversary
(The Australian)
Economic management: 6
Social cohesion: 7
Honesty & fairness: 7
Political skill: 9
Place in history: 9
“Howard has introduced a new operating concept – the prime
minister in a continuous dialogue with the public…. he is Prime
Minister, de facto head of state, a talkback media personality,
economic manager, war leader and cultural commentator. He has taken
this synthesis into new dimensions of prime ministerial influence.”

Average rating: 7.6

Phillip Adams:
The past decade has felt like a century
(The Australian)
Economic management: –
Social cohesion: 3
Honesty & fairness: 2
Political skill: 5
Place in history: 3
“… Now that we’re ten years closer to the end of Howard, let
us acknowledge that it will take another ten to repair the damage, to
restore the spirit we were celebrating at the approach of the centenary
of federation.”

Average rating: 3.25

John Carroll:
A leader with luck on his side
(The Age)
Economic management: 3
Social cohesion: –
Honesty & fairness: –
Political skill: 7
Place in history: 5
“Machiavelli drew on the classical Roman view to assert that
political success depends on a fusion of virtu – the character strength
and virtue of the leader – and fortuna – good fortune. John Howard has
had an extraordinary and sustained run of good fortune.”

Average rating: 5

Brian Toohey:
PM’s Achilles heel revealed (not online)
(The Financial Review)

Economic management: 6
Social cohesion: 4
Honesty & fairness: 5
Political skill: 7
Place in history: –
The Coalition “could easily slide from office if the pleasures of
strong growth are no longer available to distract voters from its
shortcomings – such as failing to stop huge bribes being paid to the
leaders of a country it was preparing to attack…”

Average rating: 5.5

John Durie:
PM’s wasted opportunities (not online)
(The Financial Review)
Economic management: 4
Social cohesion: –
Honesty & fairness: –
Political skill: 5
Place in history: –
“The bottom line remains that little in the way of fundamental reform has come under Howard.”

Average rating: 4.5

Andrew Bolt:
Haters help Howard
(Herald Sun)
Economic management: 7
Social cohesion: 4
Honesty & fairness: 8
Political skill: 7
Place in history: –
“Every politician has enemies. John Howard’s fantastic luck in his
decade as Prime Minister is that these are his. Look at them – shrill
artists, damn-Australia mandarins, group-think academics, stuff-you
activists, sour journalists, gimme-rights ethnic bosses and the other
discords of this cacophony of hate.”

Average rating: 7

Positive about Howard Neutral Howard hater

Peter Fray

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