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Howard criticises Libs for rewriting history -

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Howard criticises Libs for rewriting history since he left office

Broadcast: 14/04/2008

Reporter: Tom Iggulden

John Howard has made his first public remarks on home soil since losing the election four months
ago.

Transcript

LEIGH SALES: John Howard has made his first public remarks on home soil since losing the election
five months ago, taking aim at what he called the rewriting of history since he left office. In a
speech in Brisbane tonight, the former prime minister also encouraged the federal Opposition to
strengthen its defence of the legacy of his government's term in office. Tom Iggulden reports.

TOM IGGULDEN: The Liberal Party's most powerful publicly elected incumbent, Brisbane's Lord Mayor,
introduced the former prime minister and set the tone for Mr Howard's remarks.

CAMPBELL NEWMAN, BRISBANE LORD MAYOR: There's a bit of an exercise in rewriting history going on in
Canberra at the moment.

TOM IGGULDEN: Mr Howard seems almost coy at the applause he got from his old friends.

JOHN HOWARD: Thank you, thank you very much.

TOM IGGULDEN: After listing his government's achievements, Mr Howard acknowledged the party's lack
of recent electoral success but exhorted his colleagues not to lose heart, reminding them of the
party's 64 years of political history.

JOHN HOWARD: For 42 of those 62 years the Liberal Party has formed the national government of this
country.

TOM IGGULDEN: Mr Howard offered little insight into his regrets over the recent loss, other than
this remark:

JOHN HOWARD: I continue to grieve for some of my colleagues who lost their seats at the last
election.

TOM IGGULDEN: He also offered home-spun advice from the prospective of the nation's second
longest-serving prime minister and also the second serving prime minister to lose his own seat in
an election.

JOHN HOWARD: Sure I had ups and downs, but everybody who gets anywhere in politics has ups and
downs. Anybody out there who thinks that it's all going to be beer and skittles in politics, forget
it.

TOM IGGULDEN: Mr Howard's recently returned from an extended trip to the United States visiting his
son in Texas and catching up with Republican Party friends. He also met with some of the country's
financial leaders.

JOHN HOWARD: The regard for the economic strength of our country in the United States is enormous.
And it hasn't grown up in the last four and a half months.

TOM IGGULDEN: The former prime minister was just warming up. He's apparently not happy at the way
his successor has blamed his government for rising interest rates and slowing growth. After 12
years of almost unbroken economic growth, Mr Howard says Mr Rudd should be grateful at the Liberal
economic legacy.

JOHN HOWARD: Not as a result from any effort from those who occupy the Treasury benches. Nobody
should forget that almost every single measure that we undertook in government, either in any of
Peter Costello's 12 budgets or other measures that we undertook, that was designed to reduce debt
or to strengthen the Australian economy, was opposed root and branch by Mr Rudd and his colleagues.

TOM IGGULDEN: On the subject of the lot of Opposition parties, Mr Howard also had advice for Mr
Nelson and his colleagues.

JOHN HOWARD: And the job of an Opposition is to balance the need to adjust with the new
circumstances and the new reality, with a proper respect and regard and a willingness to defend the
legacy of the previous government.

TOM IGGULDEN: When Mr Howard left office, he promised not to provide a running commentary on
politics. Tonight he offered himself to his party as a provider of quiet advice. Tom Iggulden.
Lateline.