November 25, 2007


Felled by the young and the religious (David Barnett, November 26, 2007, The Australian)

He made Australia a staunch ally of the US in the war against terrorism, sending forces to Iraq and Afghanistan made up of servicemen who want to fight, are proud to serve their country, and who have covered themselves with distinction.

He put Australia at the head of a world league table of economic performers, always as one the top three or four best run economies, for most of his near 12 years as prime minister.

Australia baled out three neighbours during the Asian financial meltdown. Yet 20 years earlier we were being mocked as the poor white trash of Asia.

He kept interest rates low. The Reserve Bank's successive increases were each of 25 basis points. His undertaking to keep interest rates lower than an ALP government could manage stands up.

He took Australia to a new level of prosperity. Real wages went up 20 per cent. Inflation stayed low and unemployment just kept on falling until it was down to 4 per cent. When full employment was last discussed as an issue of national policy before Gough Whitlam was elected in 1972, two per cent was regarded as constituting full employment, given that there would always be people in transition between jobs.

With the great social dislocations of today, 4 per cent must be close to being as low as can be achieved.

So Howard's legacy to Kevin Rudd is a prosperous country where people who want work can find it, a country that is respected for its contributions when international recessions or terrorism threatens, and a country that moves with outstanding speed when natural disasters overwhelm neighbours.

But every year he grew older, and more voters came on to the rolls who had never lived under federal Labor governments. Today there are 3.4 million of them, one quarter of the electorate.

By last Saturday there were two electorates. Older voters who could not contemplate putting the gains of the past decade at risk, and the young who were bored with a leader from the generation of their parents, and were in the mood for change not for any good reason, it was change for change's sake.

Consider the parallel danger here, where we haven't had a government of the Left in nearly three decades.

Posted by Orrin Judd at November 25, 2007 3:56 PM

How 'bout making a bunch of movies about the Carter years and the Johnson years and tell the truth about the Kennedy years. The kids have no idea that peace and prosperity aren't the norm.

They won't like it when the change they get turns out to be violence and poverty. Let's raise the voting age to 65 and make everyone take a civics test before they can vote.

Posted by: erp at November 25, 2007 6:59 PM

The opening minutes of Miracle are terrifying.

Posted by: oj at November 25, 2007 8:36 PM

It was the previous Labor government of Hawke that deregulated Australia's economy during the 80s as Reagan and Thatcher did. Rudd's a Third-Wayer like Blair, Brown and Clinton.

Posted by: Ali Choudhury at November 26, 2007 10:06 AM

And Bush, Harper, Cameron.

Posted by: oj at November 26, 2007 12:14 PM