John Howard is gone. A mean-spirited little toady and lickspittle to the Monster Bush, Howard’s end when it came was more like watching a blood sport,than an election result.
Picture the scene.
In Australia’s capital, Canberra, a huge crowd had gathered on Saturday night in the National Tally Room to see the posting on an electronic scoreboard of the results for the all important 150 House of Representative seats.
When the votes began to flood in after 7.00 pm on Saturday it was soon apparent that not only was there a gathering swing across Australia against Howard conservative coalition,but in Howard’s own Sydney seat of Bennelong,he was in desperate trouble.
His Labor opponent, a charismatic journalist, Maxine McHugh, urged the voters to reject Howard’s reactionary policies, and to make that emphatic by throwing him out of the seat he had held since 1974.
As Howard,in the Sydney residence of the Prime Minister.watched his Ministers and others being swept away, he himself was gathered up in the flood and swept away too.
Not since 1929 had an Australia Prime Minister lost his own seat at an election.
When Maxine McHugh made an appearance on the Tally Room screens the audience erupted,many shouting “Howard Out, Howard Out”
In the Tally Room the clamour grew so marked was it that the panel of journalists broadcasting the results were silenced by the tumult!
Howard was seen to be losing his own seat,just as the results showed his colleagues being decimated,with some Ministers among the fallen.
It soon became apparent that Labor had won the 75 seats needed for a Majority in the 150-member chamber. The swing continued and Labor will have a majority of about 20 in the new House,and in the Senate with it’s allies .the Greens (.who will have 5 seats in the new Senate, )it will have a majority too.
The new Labor Prime Minister ,Kevin Rudd,is an impressive intellectual,who amongst other talents is a fluent speaker of Mandarin Chinese,a rare talent amongst Australian politicians,but a talent that clearly won many votes for Labor amongst the burgeoning Asian communities in Melbourne and Sydney.
Top of the list for the new Australian Government will be striking down Howard’s anti-union laws which contributed to his defeat.
Labor also had made the problems of climate change a major issue,aided by their Green party allies. Howard a long time sceptic on that issue had a deathbed conversion,but too late.
Polls showed that amongst young voters,his party secured only about 30% of the vote.
Another key issue was a promise by Labor to withdraw the Australian force from Iraq. George Bush had no more slavish adherent on the issue of the war in Iraq than Howard , His closeness to Bush had become a matter of national embarrassment,and must have helped in generating the mood which has swept him away.
Some time ago an American friend suggested that there was some sort of curse on those allied to Bush in his criminal endeavours in the Middle East. and elsehere.
We have seen Aznar in Spain, Berlusconi in Italy. Blair in the U.K, and now today John Howard. all toppled from power by angry electorates….The Curse of the House of Bush. indeed!…..like something by Edgar Allen Poe.
In their public and private meetings Bush and Howard always engaged in a mutual love fest,pouring compliments on to each other.
Bush even once called Howard, “The Man of Steel”.
One is reminded of the final unmasking of the Wizard of Oz,in which see the Wizard as a rather sad little man,once the curtain is pulled away.
The Australian people have finally pulled away the curtain from Bush’s Deputy Sheriff. The game is over,and one of the last warriors of the Coalition of the Willing has fallen!
BRIAN McKINLAY is a former Teacher and a Historian of the Australian Labor Movement, and has written a number of books on Australian History and Politics.