Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
Disclaimer: The Parliamentary Library does not warrant the accuracy of closed captions. These are derived automatically from the broadcaster's signal.
John Howard: 10 years at the top -

View in ParlViewView other Segments

(generated from captions) A poor public image was John

Howard's downfall. Does Mr Howard

ever think he'll ever have another

crack at the leadership? That's

Lazurus with a triple by-pass. I

mean, really.. Tonight - Lazurus

the long distance run. Everything mean, really.. Tonight - Lazurus and

about John Howard is low profile.

I just happen to be in the right

time at the right place. (Chant) We

want John. He's parlayed an out

ordinariness into a potent want John. He's parlayed an out ward

commodity and now, 10 years at the ordinariness into a potent political

top. That's much harder than you

think. But what's fueled and

success? Do a grinding

or an uncommon gift, a political success? Do a grinding determination

sixth sense? Tonight, under the

microscope the paradoxical decade

PM, John Howard. microscope the paradoxical decade of to Canberra nearly 32 years ago When John Winston Howard first came this Parliament didn't exist. on the planning board. It wasn't even Over the past decade impregnable castle. he's made it his own seemingly Welcome to the program. John Howard won the keys to on March 2, 1996. the most powerful office in the land Since then, this office, parliamentary chamber behind it, and the Cabinet room and of one man's political dominance, have become the focal point one other since Federation. a dominance exceeded by only of a plain man, Remarkably, it's been the triumph an ordinary man, as an "average Australian". who says he's happy to be defined to inspire stronger emotions A man who paradoxically seems in his enemies of his admirers. than in the varied ranks some tough economic moments He's led Australia through and some national tragedies. on office looked shaky. He's had moments when his hold the back of an economic prosperity But he's also won four elections off steady growth, low inflation, whose cornerstones have been standards, low unemployment. low interest rates and, by modern formula for success Tonight we look at the Howard the Prime Minister shortly. and I'll be talking with desperate predicament We also look at Labor's after 10 years in the wilderness. Political Editor Michael Brissenden. First, the Howard years with

It's been going on for weeks

- the quiet sober celebration of a It's been going on for weeks already

rare political achievement. But

today, it's finally arrived - 10

years of the Howard Government.

There have been private parties,

dinners, speechs and last night a

grand dinner in the Great Hall of

the Parliament. All of it has been

marked by a distinct and carefully

managed lack of emotion. John

Howard has learnt many things in

years in politics and one of the Howard has learnt many things in his

most significant lessons that came

from the final years of the Keating

Government was just how dangerous

could be. There have been no Government was just how dangerous it

Evans moments no triumphant victory could be. There have been no Gareth

balls but right from the start

defined the last turn of the

Government John Howard defeated in

1996. One of the things Howard has

election night understood is when you are PM on

election night you leave behind

of the partisan oppositional election night you leave behind some

language of the bat and will talk

for all Australians, not only those

who voted for you. And Howard's

done that by adopting the ordinary

have a knack last year language I

guess of Australian daily life.

Many of Australia's successful

politicians have had ordinary

backgrounds, but few have

that quite so effortlessly. Unlike backgrounds, but few have translated

Mark Latham for instance who turned

his humble origins into the central

plarfg of his political persona,

John Howard's success in politics

built on a mix of the ordinary John Howard's success in politics is

suburban conservatism of his

upbringing and the tough political

battles of more than three decades

in the game. One of the things that

makes John Howard interesting I

think is actually his mix of

ambition and his mundane persona.

He enjoys, he loves his family. He

enjoys spending time with them. He

loves watching cricket and he also

loves running the country. And

this bizarre mix that makes him loves running the country. And it's

a fascinating character. From this bizarre mix that makes him such

frustrated Treasurer to Malcolm

Fraser through 13 years in

Opposition watching Hawke and

Keating open up the economy and his

own side of politics tear itself

apart with misguided ambition. The

seemingly endless rivalry with

Andrew Peacock. All of it has made

John Howard the politician he is

today. For all his success, John

Howard hasn't attracted much

interest so far from the political

intelligentsia. Maybe he likes it

that way.? it's true the man and

his years as PM haven't been

dissected in the same way as Labor

political figures regularly are.

All that is beginning to change.

Peter Van Onselen has been

chronicling the Howard years for a

biography due to be published once

John Howard moves on. John Howard's

strongest political qualities are

his discipline and his political

learning. That's not to say he

doesn't make mistakes, he still

does. There's no doubt about that.

But he learns from his mistakes.

Judith Brett is another of those

rare academics who've taken a keen

interest in what has become a

significant political period.

I think he's kept learning, but I

think one of the things about

is that Howard understands think one of the things about Howard

power. He understands - the second is that Howard understands political

electoral victory was a slight one

but he got that political power and

he used it. And Howard has

time and again, why would you be a he used it. And Howard has stressed

politician, go through the election

campaigns, win election victory if

you weren't going to use political

power? And right from the start he

began using it with zeal. His

few years in office were began using it with zeal. His first

characterised by fiscal discipline

and a massive clawback in

spending. There were dogs and and a massive clawback in Government

balaclavas on the walls and

political drift within. In 1998

political drift within. In 1998 the man who once said never, ever took

the GST to the polls and won - just.

The Government that you have

The Government that you have elected tonight will lead this country into

the 21st krrn. He built on the

economic Liberalism built by the

Labour Government before him. He

reigned in interest rates, reduced

unemployment, it was an

unprecedented run of economic

security. But it was national

security, ordinary fears in

extraordinary times that really

strengthened his hand. As I speak

strengthened his hand. As I speak to you tonight, 2,000 young

you tonight, 2,000 young Australians are preparing to go to East Timor.

East Timor the Bali bombings and

September 11 produced a strong and

determined political response. But

the legacy has also been tarnished.

Questions of probity still hang

Questions of probity still hang over the children overboard affair and

the justification for the Iraq war.

The Australian Government knows

The Australian Government knows that Iraq still has chemical and

biological weapons. But over time,

Australians have grown to respect

him and the majority vote for him,

even if they don't always believe

him. I think one of the ironies

about John Howard is that what has

made him a successful Conservative

PM, and by that I mean successful

PM, and by that I mean successful at winning elections, the irony what

has made him that is also what has

upset so many people with him being

loose with the truth. His ability

to avoid questions, his ability to

provide answers that could

ultimately be taken one way or

another depending on how the

circumstances thereafter unfold,

circumstances thereafter unfold, has allowed him not to get pigeonholed

in the way he did in his first

couple of years as prp. Above all

else, John Howard believes he has a

genuine connection with ordinary

suburban Australians. At times

suburban Australians. At times it's carefully crafted but it's not manufactured. It's this

ordinariness, this appeal to common

fears and aspirations that's been

the foundation of his prime

ministership. Some have called

aspects of this a culture war. He

has vigorously attacked elites and

political correctness. There's no

doubt he's shaped and public debate,

but has he fundamentally changed

but has he fundamentally changed and nation? Many of his critics and

supporters alike say he has.

supporters alike say he has. Others believe his impact in this area at

least will prove to be temporary.

I don't think his legacy will be

I don't think his legacy will be one of having dramatically changed the

country, but there is no doubt that

during his term the country has

during his term the country has been very different and he has taken it

in a different direction, I think,

to the direction Paul Keating took

it. But I don't think it's a

lasting change. It's not a lasting

fork in the road. Political leaders

give if you like a sort of

give if you like a sort of temporary shape to public debate while

shape to public debate while they're in power. Whether or not they

permanently eclipse other

possibilities I doubt. 20 years ago

John Howard declared the times

John Howard declared the times would suit him. In the last 10 years

suit him. In the last 10 years they have. But anniversaries aside, one

thing history has taught him is

thing history has taught him is that the future can still be

unpredictable and politics is

unpredictable and politics is always a work in progress. It's been a

wonderful journey over the last 10

years. But as Benjamin, the