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Oh, for a return to the Howard years

  • 28 August 2018
  I never thought I would say this, but as an Aboriginal feminist with hard-left personal politics, last week I almost found myself viewing the Howard years in a favourable light.

Don't get me wrong — I still resolutely believe that John Howard was the most despicable and miserly character to lead this country. I still blame him for the rise of Nationalist sentiments, predicated on his push to white-wash history. I still blame him for the demonisation of asylum seekers thanks to his response to 9-11 and the Tampa Affair.

I definitely blame him for blocking same sex marriages. I often reflect upon his stubborn refusal to apologise to the Stolen Generations. I then get even angrier when I remember how he suddenly pretended to care about the welfare of Aboriginal children in the dying days of his government, thus rolling out the Northern Territory Intervention in a bid to gain votes. I. Still. Blame. Howard.

Yet if there are two things I do miss from the Howard years, it's these: 1. Back then, we knew what a stable government looked like; 2. Back then, the idea that changing the leadership of a government would change anything at all just did not exist.

Though prime ministers were often considered (and mocked) individually, people also seemed to have a greater understanding that they were a part of a broader system. That the way to overcome such leaders lay in getting their party removed from power, or — for those of a more radical bent — dismantling the system so it didn't continue to perpetuate such social ills.

Nowadays, there seems to be this strange view that pushing for change is as simple as removing the current prime minister. I don't understand how things became so individualistic. Did we lose hope that broader change was even possible?

Last week's leadership battle in the Liberal Party was an utter fiasco, orchestrated almost entirely by conservatives looking to increase their power and stroke their egos. Yet I can't honestly say that the prospect of Peter Dutton becoming leader had me quaking in my boots any more than the prospect of Malcolm Turnbull retaining his leadership.


"At the end of the day, all these leadership changes have achieved is to serve as a distraction while the human rights abuses continue and the planet burns."


Additionally, despite believing that, if the Liberal Party were looking for someone to win an election against a Shorten-led ALP,