John Howard, for the very reason that he was one of our best and longest serving prime ministers, remains the bête noire of the hard left. To prove he is duplicitous, they constantly use an all-purpose myth, that he rigged the 1999 republican referendum.
So it was predictable that once Sydney University decided to award him an honorary doctorate, there would be hysterical protests culminating with an unruly and violent demonstration outside the Great Hall, ruining the day for the congregation of young graduates, their families and friends. This recalled an earlier violent protest during a talk on military ethics by a retired British military officer. What appalled him was the anti-Semitism on display there.
The hard left constantly claim John Howard is a racist. As the only Eurasian in his year at law school, when Asians were a small minority, I can say this is completely baseless. His closest friends there included two young Jewish men.
But two academics, tellingly announcing their strong support for the Marxist founder of the push to introduce gender fluidity and confusion into the nation’s schools, claimed in a Fairfax newspaper that the award celebrated not only racism but also bigotry and militarism.
They were especially outraged that John Howard dares to challenge academic opinion, referring to his advice in London that politicians should not be ”browbeaten by the alleged views of climate scientists”.
Given that so many of their predictions about continuing drought, rising seas and skyrocketing temperatures have been shown to be so completely wrong, this advice was timely.
Too many politicians from both sides have been gullibly and stupidly surrendered our priceless asset of having very low priced energy while encouraging its transfer to Asia. Along with the determination of some union bosses that their members commit economic suicide, this has delivered the deindustrialisation of Australia, just as their forbears betrayed our soldiers in sabotaging our war effort. Our skyrocketing electricity prices and the recent massive blackout in South Australia surely demonstrate that Howard is right.
Fortunately for the nation, there is now one politician − Senator Malcolm Roberts − who has both the courage and the credibility to challenge the twin global warming dogmas.
The first is that man-made CO2 emissions are having a drastic effect on the climate. The second is that politicians, federal, state and even, believe it or not, local politicians can, at ruinous cost, unilaterally change the climate. This just doesn’t pass the pub test.
After the South Australian disaster, one of the hitherto strongest supporters of these global warming dogmas, Malcolm Turnbull, seems to be having second thoughts.
The academics were also stroppy about John Howard daring to point out that professional historians have been wrong about the past. This was superbly demonstrated by Keith Windschuttle in his magisterial work, The Fabrication of Aboriginal History. By going to the original sources as a professional should, he reveals that much of what had been written about aboriginal history − the black armband view − was often highly questionable.
The Sydney University staff were above all critical of Howard’s role in international affairs, suggesting the liberation of East Timor was all about Timor’s gas reserves. They were especially critical of his role in the invasion of Iraq which they, an anthropologist and a linguist, judged to be illegal. The fact is that Saddam Hussein was consistently in serious breach of the ceasefire agreement following Desert Storm and accordingly the invasion was authorised under the earlier UN Security Council Resolution 678.
Academics are of course entitled to express political views, but surely no one is entitled to disrupt university functions, especially a graduation, with demonstrations which are not only unruly but also violent.
Howard’s far left critics, especially in the commentariat, constantly fling out that he is duplicitous using the myth that he rigged the 1999 republican referendum.
It was different when he announced to the 1998 constitutional convention that although the ARM Turnbull-Keating republican model had not obtained an absolute majority, it was the republicans’ preferred model and should therefore be put to the people. He was cheered then by the republicans and congratulated in the media.
But when the people voted “No”, the republican commentariat accused him of duplicitously rigging the referendum. Although a fabrication, the claim never stops.
The latest example was by Fairfax journalist Andrew P Street. Writing recently about the votes on same-sex marriages and indigenous recognition, he accused Tony Abbott of learning from Howard’s ”roaring success” in framing the republican referendum question so that ”even advocates … can’t agree to support it.”
The most minimal fact check would demonstrate this is untrue.
The draft referendum question was the subject of proposed changes submitted by both Australians for Constitutional Monarchy and the Australian Republican Movement.
After widespread ridicule even in the republican press about their extraordinary proposal to remove the words ”president” and even ”republic” from the question, Malcolm Turnbull withdrew the ARM’s submission and agreed with the question.
ACM’s objections were fundamental and related to the fact that under a key provision, this would be the only republic in the world where the prime minister could remove the president without grounds, without notice and without appeal. Just think of that when the president must exercise one of the reserve powers. ACM never withdrew this and did not agree that the question adequately and fairly summarised the proposal.
But a joint parliamentary committee approved the question, with the support of the ARM, and then by the parliament, which, unlike the general public, was overwhelmingly republican.
Mr Howard had nothing to do with it.
It is also frequently claimed Howard rigged the convention. Made up 76 elected and 40 ex-officio delegates with 36 nominated by the government, Howard chose the 36 from the eminent, the young and the indigenous. Only 10 out of the 36 delegates he nominated actually voted in favour of the constitutional monarchy. There was no rigging there.
Then it is said that Howard imposed the Keating-Turnbull model on the Convention. Professor George Williams argues that the presence of the non-elected nominated delegates ensured this by skewing the result. The plain fact is that a majority of republican elected delegates (26 to 22) voted for the Turnbull-Keating model, the one the people rejected. Again there was no rigging.
Howard’s behaviour throughout was impeccable. He in no way favoured the monarchist cause. The commentariat should just stop rewriting history.