I approached this week’s Bulletin with due cynicism when I saw it featured The 100 most influential Australians. Oh yes, I thought, wank-time! But I was wrong. Panellists Julie McCrossin, Phillip Knightley and Michael Cathcart have done such a good job I have listed this among my Best Reads of 2006, as you can see. Of course we could all suggest others, and maybe want to scrap some, but what a good introduction it is to our shared past and present, and a great tool for teachers, I would have thought. I’ll certainly be alerting my coachees to it.
Yes, John Howard is of course there, but I loved the positioning that happens on his page: you’ll have to buy the magazine to see what I mean. He is kind of, well, “buried”. This is the content on JH:
John Howard, the most relentless politician in Australian public life, has transformed the way Australians view themselves and the way the international community views Australia in the first decade of the 21st century. A lifelong conservative, he began his prime ministership (now second only to that of Robert Menzies in duration) with a pledge to confront “political correctness”. The result has been the “history wars” that replaced Paul Keating’s big pictures on reconciliation, a republic and Asian engagement with a nationalist agenda. Many young Australians in particular have responded by draping themselves in the flag — complete with Union Jack in the corner — as they tramp the world. Howard redefined Liberalism with his 2001 vow that “we will decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come” underlining a willingness to confront a world awash with asylum-seekers in his quest for domestic votes, particularly those that were traditionally held by Labor. Howard’s defence and foreign policies have relied heavily on cementing the alliance with the United States. He has taken Australian troops to war in Iraq and Afghanistan in coalition with the US while also committing the military to neighbourhood trouble-spots, notably East Timor and the Solomon Islands. Howard has capitalised on a long period of economic prosperity by pursuing tough free-market reforms, introducing a GST, pursuing widespread privatisation of public assets, notably Telstra, and — having won power in both houses of parliament for the first time since the 1970s — moving the industrial relations balance from unions to business.
Very fair, I would have thought.
As you know, where JH sees “political correctness” I see “simple decency”, so naturally we differ. I am happy to see one of the most popular posts here in recent weeks has been PC but with a sense of humour. Go there to see where I stand: I think I am quite moderate, actually, and it is the current zeitgeist which is extreme, thanks to the Pauline Howard factor.
In the same issue, see also, speaking of zeitgeist, Gay but not happy, John.
Of course on the back page we have Tim B being the clown he usually is over those awfully funny “global warming” chappies and gals — funny to him, that is, but not to most reputable scientists, or even to most moderately well-informed general readers; but Tim can’t help himself, can he? It’s his party trick to be like this, after all. The mining and industrial sectors and their political puppets will as ever be well pleased with him, and his fans will wet themselves yet again. (*Stifles a yawn.*)
Excellent issue, nonetheless.