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Howard's Australia Home to Roost

Let's make no mistake about who was responsible for the racist violence we saw on the beaches of Sydney on December 9th 2005. It can be sheeted home to the master of dog whistle politics, John Winston Howard. The man who won an election by demonising refugees, who supports the torture gulags across the world run by the 'freedom loving' United States, who advocates the invasion of an Arab nation to support his masters, and who supports draconian laws to deprive people of due process, has set the tone. He can deplore the violence all he likes, but it was his supporters, flying the flag he loves, wallowing in the jingoism he bathes in, who were marching to his drum beat of insinuation and fear.

Howard's form goes back a long way. He was the only member of Prime Minister Fraser's cabinet to oppose the then Government's decision to allow Vietnamese refugees to enter the country thirty years ago, and as we have seen with his long standing hatred of the trade union movement and his recent efforts to outlaw them, this leopard does not change his spots.

Of course Howard will deplore the violence. He will advocate the rule of law. But he will not criticise the dangerous jingoism which sees his supporters waving the Australian flag, which sees them singing Walzing Matilda, and chanting the "Ozzie Ozzie Ozzie - Oi Oi Oi" inanity, because this is his anthem, his jingoism, and his beat. With his infamous "We will decide who comes into this country, and the circumstances in which they come," mantra, Howard decreed that those who may have had reservations about any latent racism they held, could now let it out. His disgraceful incarceration of the Tampa boat refugees, who were rescued from a sinking ship by the captain of an oil tanker, but refused entry into Australia (practically all of whom were shown, in due course, to be genuine refugees) gave a diagonal nod to the the racist supporters of Pauline Hanson, and helped him to win an election. He also, of course, was party to accusations that refugees from another boat had thrown their children overboard during this election campaign, subsequently shown to be a total lie, but precisely the kind of politics which has contributed towards the scenes on Sydney beaches.

The Government recently passed 'anti-terror' laws allowing internment without charge, and laws against even revealing that a family member has been arrested. It instigated the deportation of a peace activist for no discernible reason (the discretion of the Attorney General apparently, being all that was required), and has passed other laws which seem to be the very opposite of the 'freedom' we are supposed to be defending. It is possible that blogs such as these could be termed 'seditious' although I doubt that there will be enough jails to hold us all (perhaps we could be shipped to one of George Bush's torture gulags, under the "extraordinary rendition" euphemism which sees the US sending faceless, nameless people across the globe to be tortured.) What you will not see, is John Howard condemning, in precise terms, the people who waved his flag, sang his song, and marched to his beat on the streets of Cronulla. These are people who put him in power. These are people who love him. These are the people he loves, though he can't say so. They are the people who have taken to heart his inferences that we have been too politically correct in the past, and they will have little to fear from any of his latest legislation. The tactics have served Howard well, but it will be virtually impossible to re-bottle and cork this ugly genie. Howard has done virtually everything he has always wanted to do in politics (although the emasculation of the ABC, and the the granting of carte blanche to the two largest media mongrels cannot be too far away).

The only consolation I can see in all this is that Howard will go down in our history as being the most divisive, manipulative, dishonest and racist Prime Minister this country has ever seen, but that is no consolation at all, and the damage he has wrought in this once tolerant country is unlikely to be ameliorated in my lifetime. What else can one say to end on a positive note? That the passage of a hundred years will (possibly) redress the damage? That the Australian people will put aside their jingoism and greed, and turf the bastard out? That eventually he will grow old and die? I'm afraid there's not much to hang a hat of hope on to in John Howard's Australia, circa 2005.

Posted: Thu - September 21, 2006 at 04:05 PM      
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