December 23, 2005


On the home stretch (Paul Kelly, December 24, 2005, The Australian)

JOHN Howard began the year being accused of timidity and finished it being accused of ruthlessness. Most professionals believe Howard will remain in office for another election, but Howard's 2005 successes are so comprehensive that they suggest a career near to completion.

This year offered powerful evidence that Howard's image as a conservative is utterly misleading. History will show that Howard is better understood as a change agent, a complex mixture of pragmatism, ideology and utilitarianism. The key to understanding Howard lies in the way he constantly shifts his balancing point between preserving tradition and advancing reformist change. His judgment about this trade-off defines his political success.

Howard's opponents are prisoners of this schism. They decry him as a bone-hard conservative, then brand him as an extremist at decisive moments such as the 1998 GST debate, the 2001 refugee crackdown and this year's industrial shake-out.

The past year has exposed Howardism as a philosophy in a purer form than before. This is because some of the previous constraints on Howard's operations were lifted. What made 2005 different from Howard's previous nine years of power was his Senate control despite the Barnaby Joyce break-outs.

This year Howard converted into laws the potential bequeathed by the 2004 election when the Coalition won control of both houses of federal parliament for the first time since 1981.

Tony Blair is stuck in the Labour Party and W 's never had 60 seats in the Senate, or they'd be doing the same as quickly. Their eventual successors -- David Cameron & John McCain -- are likely not to face those constraints.

Labor's hold on states at risk (Ean Higgins and Sean Parnell, December 24, 2005, The Australian)

THE Liberals and Nationals have moved within striking distance of breaking Labor's stranglehold on state power, with Labor losing its lead in NSW and struggling in Queensland.

Two Newspolls show the ALP's two bastion states are up for grabs at their next elections, due in 2007.

While Queensland's Peter Beattie faces declining personal support and has failed to break a deadlock in party preference, in NSW Labor has lost its lead over the state Coalition for the first time since the departure of former premier Bob Carr in July.

The Newspolls, conducted exclusively for The Weekend Australian over the past two months, show a voter backlash after a series of crises engulfed the two longest-serving Labor administrations in the country.

Posted by Orrin Judd at December 23, 2005 5:23 PM
Comments for this post are closed.