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Australian Politics

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Running Head: POLITICS

Politics: Howards Government

[Victoria University]
Table of Contents
Thesis Statement 1
Introduction 1
Discussion 1 Political Culture 3 Economic Rationalism 4 Social Conservatism 7
Conclusion 8
References 9
Annotated Bibliography 11

Politics: Howards Government
Thesis Statement The changes brought by he Howard’s government in social, political, and economical landscape are substantially different from previous regimes and tend to move away from welfare state to free market system.

Introduction This paper discusses the changes that have been brought by the 11 year era of 25th Prime minister of Australia, Mr John Winston Howard. This era saw economic expansion that is characterized as longest in the history of Australia. Howard’s policies, practices, philosophies, and decisions have been widely debated specially over the issue of abolishing welfare system, treatment of asylum seeker after the 9-11, and such. This paper discusses the changes in the era of Howard and its consequences.

Discussion The 25th Prime minister of Australia, Mr John Winston Howard, was born on July 26th; 1939.he is the longest serving prime minister of Australia after Sir Robert Menzies. His era of Prime Ministership started March 11th, 1996 and ended in December the 3rd 2007. After 1980, it was the first Federal victory of coalition of the National Parties and liberals. The first terms was 1996 to 1998, the second term of the Howard was 1998-2001. The third term started in 2001 and ended in 2004. While the last term of Howard as Prime minister started 2004 and ended in 2007. All the four term are marked by severe conflicts in views among critics regarding the policies, agenda and forms of governmental style during Howards 11 year era. The first term of Howard is characterised by partial privatizations of Telstra, tight budgeting, industrial relation changes, Wik debate and persistent ministerial problems. The second term of his government is marked by deal with Australian Democrats which enabled the government to bring tax reform legislation and introduction of tax, Goods and Services Tax. The government faced some bleak electoral situation in the final year of second term, however due to the changes in policy in the year 2011; the government was able to recover some ground. The election of 2001 were flooded with the news of war against terrorism by the US and arrivals of the boatloads of asylum seekers. The success in election with an even higher majority was awarded to him again. The government still did not have enough seats in senate to pass the planned legislations. In the fourth term the Howard’s government saw operating with a rare majority in the Upper House of Parliament, which enabled the long awaited passage of industrial relation and economic agenda of Howard. The Trade Union movement and Labour Party campaigned against the industrial relations reform by Howard’s government and also opposed the involvement of Australia in the war of Iraq. The era of Howard has brought changes in the political, economic and social landscape of Australia. His philosophy of running the government is visible in the events and attempts of his regime. Several views can be found, however, it’s the success and failures that bring the improvement in democratic system. The term globalization was used by the Howard led Liberals in an exploitative way to generate fear stemming from uncertainty. The liberal party stressed the importance of national cohesion in a period characterised by risk and change, and set out to reassure the comfort, relaxation and stability, for “Old Australians”. The victory of Howard over the Keating is considered a symbolic victory of neoconservative worldview which formed the Australian political culture in the 21st century.

Political Culture The political culture as per the view of Dean Jaensch is the collection of beliefs, attitudes, and ideologies about the political process and systems, and relates to both the individuals in the society and the society as a whole (Jaensch, 1997: 19). The eventual victory of Howard-led coalition with its 11 year rule set the direction for national culture evolution and also impacted upon public policies making in all area. Chris Aulich and Roger Wettenhall have commented that the Howard’s government agendas and issue have been defined by two factors: modern conservatism in social policy and liberalism in economic policy (Aulich and Wettenhall, 2005: 5). This can be conceived as the fusion that is characterized by neo-conservative leaders like Ronald Reagan of Us and Margaret Thatcher in Britain, who campaigned for radial economic restructuring along with the tenacious hold on the social order that is established. This can create problem in theoretical sense at least. Since it is based on water tight treatment of economy and society is dealt as two distinctly separate concepts in separate spheres of life and can be dealt with different rules (Rundle, 2001: 15). However, it is to be noted that the philosophical incongruity does not necessarily impair the functioning of a [political discourse. John Hirst points out that the rapid change in the environment during the last 30 years has made the social conservatism a somewhat attractive platform (Hirst Age, 2003). For those Australia who have not been able to find the fruits of globalization, have regulated in grievances and anxieties into the cultural spheres and develop into a thirst of “mythical certain past. This contradiction becomes a political opportunity in the context that pragmatism serves the purpose of glue to bind these together. Howard has admitted this in his biography that during the last two decades, those who has been strongest advocates of liberal economic reforms should reap the political benefits of the sense of social insecurity that has been resulted (Errington and van Onselen, 2007: 223).

Economic Rationalism The era of Howard can be termed as the longest period of economic expansion. This factor can be considered as the single most influential factor in the win for Howard in election term after term. The economic growth is phenomenal during his period, real income of people increased, and unemployment reduced. There was a clear shift from the previous governments. The effects of changed philosophy were evident since the Keating period; however, they became more obvious in the era of Howard. The term Economic Rationalism is Australian which is used in the discussion of microeconomic policy that Industrialized Western governments widely adopted during the period of 190s and 1990s. The popularity gained by the terms was from the publication of work by Michael Pusey Economic Rationalism in Canberra: A Nation-Building State Changes Its Mind (1991). The roots of economic liberalism are derived from classical liberalism which rests on the doctrine of individualism. Andrew Vincet believes that individualism is the moral and political doctrine which extols the value of human being as individuals. It contends that government should have minimum control in the hands. Only those necessary functions which needs supervision on the centralized level, like protection of private property, maintenance of law and order which the government should refrain from interfering with the market functions (Vincent 29, 41-42). The classical liberalism promotes the equal access to the markets which is termed as formal equality. The pursuit of substantive social and economic equality under the classic liberalism is not encouraged since it will lead to undermine the market forces mechanism and in turn will intrude with the individual freedom. The new right movement that built around the idea of classic liberalism in the 1980s, and developed them into public choice that is more sophisticated. According to his theory market is a source of wealth and not source of inequity, and this trickles down to everyone eventually. The public sector is repositioned as the dominated domain by wealthy and powerful individuals and managed by the interest groups as the source of inequity and these groups and individuals use it to capture the ears of government, bureaucrats and politicians for additional resources (Johnson, 2004: 119). This creates a barrage of criticism against the welfare state. The welfare state under this view is presented to be unproductive, inefficient, uneconomic, ineffective, despotic and also impinging on freedom (Pierson, 1991: 48). The form of “user pays” system is given importance over “willed” redistribution is encouraged as claimed to be step toward personal improvement. The founders of the new right movement in Australia belonged to very diverse background and outlook, and it includes businessman, economist, intellectuals, neoconservatives, and libertarians (Errington and van Onselen,2007: 68-69). There were think tanks established to propagate the philosophy of free market systems, such a think tank is Institute of Public Affairs and Centre for Independent Studies. The important avenues of new right movement were journal Quadrant and the Australian Financial Review under Max Walsh and then P.P. McGuinness. There was implementation of watered-down neo-liberalism under the Hake-Keating government. This aimed at reconciling the doctrine of free market with the social democracy (Johnson, Governing Change 26). In this model there were few welfare safety nets and more rationalist policies and the welfare policies were incorporated to ensure the wellbeing of those who are disadvantaged. The conservancy of the social democratic objectives was clearly demonstrated by the increasing level of public expenditures. The coalition era after the 1996 saw a mushroom growth of the economic reform and further erosion of the earlier welfare system. The government privatized the public entities and services, and reduced the expenditures of government on public sector, introduced a new tax with the name of Goods and Services Tax, more conditions on welfares beneficiaries, and work place reforms all are indication of the coalition government towards the rationalist agenda. However, the ascendancy of the market over politics should not be considered as the disappearing of state power, rather it should be seen as the power being utilized to monitor the market model and not the welfare concerns (Carol Johnson). Market becomes the indirect hand of the government that encourages particular forms of self-managing and self-regulating individuals. And this very ide brings an alignment in the economic conduct and political and social objectives (Johnson, 2000: 101-2). The implication of the free market system became obvious as the era of Howard continued. The grant for universities was cut by 5% and the ABC lost10% in just one year (Manne, 2004: 9). The budget was cut by 6% for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission (ATSIC) and also a special auditor was appointed to monitor closely the spending. The spending was cut by 38% for the Office of the Status of Women (OSW) and the grants for women were halved (Errington and van Onselen 249-50). This cutting of expenditure and privatization in combination is responsible for the 10,000 positions of common wealth public service lost in the year 1996 and an additional 16,000 in the year 1997 (Manne , 2004: 9). The bureaucracy was restructured to more centralized style of management. The powers were shifted from public services to offices of ministers. The bureaucracy was dominated by economic rationalists and managerial personnel. The strengthening of control over bureaucracy was visible even in the Haw-Keating era as the government replaced permanent posts by the contract systems. However, the peak of centralization can be considered the Howard Government. All the outcomes of new philosophy of centralizing and free markets were not good. The public was shocked to see the government treatment of the refugees and asylum seekers. Those who were without documentation was put in detention center in remote locations like Woomera, and Port Hedland facing a term of indefinite imprisonment. Even those individuals who were identified as genuine asylum seekers were offered only a temporary protection visa, which rendered them ineligible for many settlement services like tuition of Free English and family reunion. The detention centers became a source of deep mental depression for those seeking asylum and many attempted to commit suicide. This brought the attention of UN which stated that this is the severe case of gross human rights abuse (Manne, 2004: 34).

Social Conservatism Conservatism is fiercely contested like the liberalism and is considered a chameleon like term which is employed in a highly contextualized and fragmentary fashion. It encompasses many school ideas simultaneously but yet subvert with each other with respect to specific socio historical contexts. Robert Manne put forward the deep mistrust in the social reform typical in conservatives in this work The New Conservatives in Australia, in which he says that the thought which has most important conservative social thought whose consequences of social reforms tend to be usually those which are usually unintended by their sponsors (Manne,1982: xi). In the age of globalization the social conservatism has its own appeal. The reason is that it serves to infuse the sense of security and equilibrium for those feels lost in the era characterized and marked by rapid changes. As catch-cry “relaxed and comfortable” of John Howard suggests. The themes of uncertainty and change are often underlying the Australian’s public discussions. Paul Kelly Describes that, the direction of Australia can be described as the shaped by the battle in between two major forces. Change is the irreversible consequences of globalization and the other is the cry of people who want it to be halted, in order to gain control over their lives (Kelly, 1992: 4). The components central to the conservative ideology include the fortification of “imagined national economy”, anti-elitism, sanctification of Anglo-Celtic tradition and the condemnation of ‘political corrections”. The result of this criticism on new social movements led the nation away from the progressive course toward the direction that is conservative.

Conclusion The ultimate judges of any political regime are its people. The power of vote is the decision that public announces. In the year 2007 the era of Howard come down in favour of Kevin Rudd. The issues which were raised by the Rudd portray the points which were mishandled in the regime of Howard, the issue like, challenges of water, climate change, rise of China and India, fixing the Hospitals of Australia, and to transform the education system of Australia. The polices of Howard regarding the industrial relations changes, and the intention to retire in favour of his treasurer Costello, marked his defeat. The philosophy controlling the change might have benefited politically in the short run, but Australian now feel that they have missed the train of getting along with the world and this is the defeat of Howard’s era.

Jaensch D, (1997) The Politics of Australia. 2nd ed. Melbourne: Macmillan Education Australia
Pty Ltd. pp.19.
Aulich C., and Roger W., (2005). Howard’s Second and Third Governments: Australian Commonwealth Administration 1998-2004. Sydney: UNSW Press, pp. 5.
Rundle G., (2001). The Opportunist: John Howard and the Triumph of Reaction. Melbourne: Black Inc, pp. 15.
Hirst J., (2003). “Why I Vote for John Howard.” The Age.
Errington W., and Peter O. (2007). John Winston Howard. Victoria: Melbourne University Publishing, pp. 68-69, 223
Pusey M., (1991). Economic rationalism in Canberra: a nation-building state changes its mind.
Johnson C. (2004). “Anti-Elitist Discourse in Australia: International Influences and Comparisons.” Us and Them: Anti-Elitism in Australia. Ed. Marian Sawer and Barry Hindess. WA: API Network Australia Research Institute, 117-35.
Pierson C., (1991). Beyond the Welfare State? The New Political Economy of Welfare. Cambridge: Polity Press. pp. 48
Johnson C., (2000). Governing Change: From Keating to Howard. Queensland: University of Queensland Press, pp. 26,119.
Manne R., (2004). “The Howard Years: A Political Interpretation.” The Howard Years. Ed. Robert Manne. Victoria: Black Inc, 3-53.
Manne, R., (1982). “Intellectuals and Their Cultural Consequences.” The New Conservatism in Australia. Ed. Robert Manne. Melbourne: Oxford University Press, xi-xii.
Kelly P., (1992). The End of Uncertainty: The Story of the 1980s. NSW: Allen and Unwin. pp. 4.
Annotated Bibliography

Jaensch D, (1997) The Politics of Australia. 2nd ed. Melbourne: Macmillan Education Australia
Pty Ltd. This paper discusses the politics of Australia and several regimes during the history. This will allow us to compare the Howard’ era with the history.

Aulich C., and Roger W., (2005). Howard’s Second and Third Governments: Australian Commonwealth Administration 1998-2004. Sydney: UNSW Press, This provides a critical view of the Howard’s second and the third term of the government. Tit provides discussion on the policies after 9-11 and the asylum seekers.

Rundle G., (2001). The Opportunist: John Howard and the Triumph of Reaction. Melbourne: Black Inc, This paper introduces the opportunistic behavior of the Howard. He is a man who has been interpreted by several authors in different way; this paper will enrich the discussion.

Hirst J., (2003). “Why I Vote for John Howard.” The Age. This paper scrutiny the factors that have contributed to the second longest government era of a single Prime Minister.

Johnson C. (2004). “Anti-Elitist Discourse in Australia: International Influences and Comparisons.” Us and Them: Anti-Elitism in Australia. Ed. Marian Sawer and Barry Hindess. WA: API Network Australia Research Institute, 117-35. This source discusses the Anti-Elitism side of the political and social philosophy that has marked the Howard’s regime. This provides a comparative assessment of Australia and other nations.

Johnson C., (2000). Governing Change: From Keating to Howard. Queensland: University of Queensland Press, This paper discusses the change of government regime from Keating to Howard. Our discussion will gain much of the material form this source as it directly relates to our topic.

Manne R., (2004). “The Howard Years: A Political Interpretation.” The Howard Years. Ed. Robert Manne. Victoria: Black Inc, 3-53. This is perhaps one of the most conclusive reviews of the political history of Howard. This provides the interpretation of the policies and practices of the Howard and highlights the merits and demerits.

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Aboriginal Rights heart is broken as I am reminded that in the eyes of many, I am not welcome on my own land.” —Nakkiah Lui, Aboriginal woman “We won't stop, we won't go away / We won't celebrate Invasion Day!”—Chant during protests on Australia Day 2012 “January 26th marked the beginning of the murders, the rapes and the dispossession. It is no date to celebrate”—Michael Mansell, National Aboriginal The Day of Mourning Speech. The Aboriginal perspective of Australia day was that is was not a celebration Aboriginal people but in fact a commemoration of a deep loss. The issues outlined in the Day of Mourning speeches in 1937 led by three Aboriginal men were for the Aboriginal people to be able to access the same citizenship rights as those of white-Australians. This included their land being returned, equal employment opportunity, improvement in standards of health, housing and education. They also requested that Aboriginal children should no longer be taken from their families and a return of the loss of the right to practice their culture. In 1897 the ‘Chief Protector’ to remove local Aboriginal people onto and between reserves and hold children in dormitories. Whether or not the...

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