John Howard..non-core to the core…

With much deference to Tim Dunlop, it would be remiss of us not to observe EX PM John Howard’s latest running commentary on all things political after he promised not to do so.

Mr Howard, who addressed students at the Gold Coast’s Bond University today, said the Coalition had struggled with public perception.

“Any government that’s been in power for as long as we were inevitably develops a problem with longevity,” Mr Howard told the crowded auditorium.

“We were the second-longest serving government since federation, (so) I think longevity played a part in it.”

He said Australians had become accustomed to their wealth, and faced with an alternative leader who differed from the government on only a few “symbolic” principles, deferred to the new guy.

“Prosperity in Australia had continued for so long that people rather took it for granted,” Mr Howard said.

This was a speech delivered by the ex-PM delivered today.

Anyone suspect that he might be somewhat basking in his own inherited perceptions of his own brilliance of the past, rather than focusing on the issues that confront Australians today?

Or is that just me…?


21 Responses

  1. In other words, he retired to cruise control long before he was kicked out. It reminds me of the old ‘Mission Accomplished’ celebrations that Bush held when Bagdad fell.

    Lets examine some facts about the old bugger’s leadership and his government’s mastery of all things economic

    On ‘All points West’ today’s question is: Is Australia’s economic miracle a mirage?

    My answer is simple yet my explanation more detailed.

    Mirage! was my answer and to quote Michael West:

    “The shape of the world economy has changed in the last 18 years. China has boomed.

    Although Australia’s GDP growth has historically tracked the US, this time we are in a particularly fortunate position of having a mining boom (although commodity prices have begun to come off sharply). And Government debt is not an issue.

    That said, Australia like the US is a current account deficit country (currently 6.2% of GDP) which means our banking system borrows from the rest of the world to support our lavish lifestyle.

    No longer can this country rely on a debt-funded spending spree to fuel a recovery. This is bad news for both the banks [business] and the consumer.”

    I know Howard and Costello laid claim to being the masters of the economy and interest rates but that is simply no longer a viable claim, and it never really was. They were simply riding a favourable economic wind.

    They were also front and center when it came to cheering Australian who took advantage of artificially low interest rates by taking on boatloads of debt. Nor did they monitor the lending practices of the financial sector, in spite, in spite of the obvious lending lunacy that was going on.

    Our banks assure us that we are in a stronger position than the US to cope with any fallout, I tend to be more skeptical. Our banks have surely been aided in earning record profits off the back of complex and risky debt arrangements with other lending institutions, businesses, and individuals in recent years? This has been a global issue, not just one relating to the US alone.

    Rewind back twelve months and I can still hear Howard repeating the same dangerous mantra “interest rates are lower and people can borrow more.”

    Howard said the heavier debt burden reflected rising affluence.

    “It is the case that people are buying ever more expensive houses, and they are doing that because of a number of factors,” the Prime Minister said. “One of them is that interest rates are lower and people can borrow more.”

    Yes, our hero was pushing a dangerous mantra indeed. In his opinion, it seemed as though a new era had arrived under his leadership.

    He then went on to say: “Debt levels are rising, but we are choosing to use the debt more productively to buy assets that traditionally rise in value, like shares and property.”

    At around the same time the Reserve Bank’s figures on household finances showed that assets were rising faster than debt (in spite of many Australian’s carrying record levels of debt). Households, they claimed had assets, including housing, superannuation and other investments, that are equal to eight times their annual income.

    Mark Davis, author of The Land of Plenty writes:

    “Australia’s ‘age of prosperity’, as Peter Costello calls it in his memoirs, has been underwritten by the mining boom (even as manufactured exports stagnated during his tenure) and massive increases in household debt (now more than $1 trillion – about the same as the annual national output), even as the government has wound down its own debt. The national debt has in effect been privatised while, at the same time, risk has been shifted away from government and business onto the shoulders of ordinary people, in the shape of long working hours, casualisation, and the sort of uncertainty that is written in the fact that Australians take the least holidays of any western nation.”

    It just doesn’t get anymore succinct and to the point than that. And it was the Howard Government that have left us in this precarious position.

    In fact it was reported just recently that our “economy is even more vulnerable to an economic downturn than the struggling US, leaving us facing the spectre of soaring unemployment, falling house prices and a long-drawn out economic slump.

    Experts say the only way to head off a crisis is to quickly cut interest rates and improve household finances decisively.

    The bleak picture is painted by economists who point to a series of data showing how we compare to the US.

    Australia has some of the most expensive property in the world, relative to incomes, according to the Demographia International Housing Affordability Survey.

    It says the median Australian house price is 6.3 times median household income, higher than the US, Canada, New Zealand, Ireland and Britain. A median Sydney property will cost nine times the average Sydney income.

    Australia also has more debt per household than the US, with Australians owing 177 per cent of household income in mortgage and other debts compared to 138 per cent in the US.

    This is coupled with the fact Australians save an average of 0.5 per cent of their income compared to 2.6 per cent in the US.”

  2. Bring back happy feet.

  3. Howard & The Private School Bullies not only destroyed the economy, allowed the national infrastructure to mould and deteriorate, lumbered individuals with government debt, sold our assets but they also destroyed our lifestyle with greed and corruption (read Workchoices) and simply falling asleep at the wheel…

    …but they were not alone – there were other incompetents in bed with them (and with this present government too!):

    Lawmakers (ie politicians from ALL sides!)

    Regulators (APRA, ASIC, AUSTRAC, RBA, Treasury)

    Courts (way too soft on recalcitrants!)

    Financial advisors (GMAB – leeches no better than tarot card readers)

    Propery Managers

    Real Estate agents

    Superannuation Managers

    …and the list goes on (difficult to “brainstorm” by yersel’)

    These “professionals” (LOL) are either incompetent, incorrigible or simply thieves (take your pick)

    Either way the Robber Barons have never gone away and we serfs are still being fleeced…

    …and John Howard and Peter Costello are “proud” of what they did – to 20 million people – lay back open wide and just enjoy the ride…FFS!

    Imagine if compulsory superannuation had been increased to 15% as Paul Keating always advocated (the ammount of capital available would have “really” buffered us) – easy to do in boom times – how long will we have to wait for another opportunity.

    …and JMc didn’t I say those of us who were a bit more prudent would not be immune? Now the markets are dangerous and the cash returns are down – let’s hope that mortgagees will not reduce their payments for “consumables” but continue “overpaying” their mortgage. (Have they been “frightened” enough? Somehow I doubt it.)


    …and the Yanks (Heinz) now own Golden Circle – Bugger me!

  4. What’s happening to my posts?

  5. All said before Mac but still they will have none of it and commentators like Milne, Ackerman and those wingnut bloggers that haunted Tim’s Blogocracy, and those even more radical ones that haunt Bolt and Blair will have you believe, as Howard tries to now trumpet and the opposition now follows, the economic downturn, the financial collapse and the hard times all started the moment the second hand ticked over as the Governor General swore Kevin Rudd in as Prime Minister, and not one second earlier.

    Before that dark moment bought on by a stupid and gullible electorate being aided and abetted by a biased and compliant media, everything was wine and roses, huge prosperity for all and so much wealth the people didn’t even know just how well off they were. After that tick of the clock dark clouds of economic doom gathered, all the wealth magically disappeared, the economy died and falling interest rates that were good under Howard now turned bad.

    The simple fact is Howard is attempting to rewrite history. He has come out of seclusion and broken his corenon-core promise on speaking out because he can see the truth about his “great economic management” is being revealed which will not gel well with the factualfictional tome he is planning. Howard has a massive ego and now as his plan to become the longest serving, the most successful and most loved PM has failed miserably even to be ousted by an ABC presenter and a female at that, he is trying to feed that ego and make his great mark in history by rewriting it.

  6. Frankly Adrian I can’t see Howard being able to rewrite history. He went on the record too many times displaying his ignorance.

    And some of those media commentators will eventually be seen for what they are, ‘dinosaurs’.

    The strict authoritarian father model of leadership (the all-knowing autocrat) is becoming a thing of the past.

  7. Amen to that Mac.

  8. Have faith brother Adrian, the world is changing and not all for the worse I am certain of that. Well, okay, I’m crossing all my fingers.

  9. To be honest I’m not that pessimistic about things at the moment and I’m usually a realist tending to pessimism.

    If Howard were in charge right now I would have taken an overdose, slashed my wrists, shot myself all inside my sealed car with an exhaust hose being fed into it just to make sure.

  10. John McPh, that was an awesome post (post number 1), and not a bad follow-up from Adrian. Posts like that will soon see this site bigger and better than Blogocracy.

  11. Apologies to TB, some of his posts were trapped by the spam filter and I have only just been able to re-claim them.

    I will keep an eye on the spam filter to make sure no real comments go in there (and I just had to let through the mock briannie post too – hehe)

  12. All I can say is how good it is to hear John Howard again. Actually I think he has been very quite. If it wasn’t for the lefties I don’t think anyone would know of his rare statements in the media. I have actually heard Paul Keating several times recently making comments but wouldn’t even know John Howard made any statements.

    I do not agree that Howard/Costello did a bad job. It is easy to be armchair critics. We are doing better than a lot of countries. Our unemployment rate is way below a lot of European countries. If you have a job you can eat.

    I think govt is a very difficult job and we were lucky to have Howard/Costello for the last 11 years.

    The ALP is good at only two things- producing debt and unemployment and they are hopeless at everything else. Just watch the unemployment rate go up under Labor

  13. “The ALP is good at only two things- producing debt and unemployment and they are hopeless at everything else. Just watch the unemployment rate go up under Labor
    12. Neil of Sydney | October 7, 2008 at 9:29 pm”

    Oh! Dear here they come …aga-ain! Catch us if you ca-an!

    Neil – its BECAUSE of yer heroes we WILL be in big trouble!

  14. Thanks for your comments Miglo. It’s interesting you should mention Blogocracy because many of us really gained a keen insight into sharing views and information which enhances the quality of input over time. I’m glad that when Blogocracy ended we’ve found a new home.

    I get some really great feedback and I’m always eager to share – there is a wealth of knowledge on tap amongst these bloggers and respect to match. And Adrian? Talk about passionate! (I mean that in the nicest possible way as well Adrian)

    And yes, TB you did

    “…and JMc didn’t I say those of us who were a bit more prudent would not be immune? Now the markets are dangerous and the cash returns are down – let’s hope that mortgagees will not reduce their payments for “consumables” but continue “overpaying” their mortgage. (Have they been “frightened” enough? Somehow I doubt it.)”

    I’ve got to admit that I’ve been spooked a bit of late, but I’ve got my composure back. I’m not sure that enough pain has been realised for people to change their spending habits just yet either. It’s usually job losses that brings that reality home for many.

  15. Neil of Sydney | October 7, 2008 at 9:29 pm

    The ALP is good at only two things- producing debt and unemployment and they are hopeless at everything else. Just watch the unemployment rate go up under Labor.

    Your old fall back not withstanding that so far unemployment actually improved under Labor and of course completely ignoring the world economic situation, it has to be Labor’s fault. Here is this wingnut mentality, everything went sour the very second the GG swore in a Labor government, before that things were unbelievably fantastic and would have continued that way forever if only the people had not been so gullible and stupid.

    Just what did Howard specifically do to increase employment, for if you break down the unemployment figures during his terms of office they almost all fall back to just one sector of the economy and the flow on from that, which had little or nothing to do with anything Howard put in place? Except for maybe one area that is now turning around to bite us severely as was predicted and on which Howard was warned many times, unsustainable and dramatically increasing debt levels.

    Howard’s promotion and stimulation of personal debt, spend at all costs to stimulate the domestic market and increase employment in the building, retail and service industries was always a short term gain for a long term pain strategy and he knew it. His answer to the fall when it would inevitably come, WorkChoices. That’s right punish the very people who helped him for 11 years, his battlers, who became the hardest working with the longest working hours and the least holidays workers in the OECD.

    All Howard/Costello did for 11½ years was not stuff up badly whilst creating a divisive and greedy nation, and it’s what they didn’t do and should have done that they will be remembered for.

  16. Well, despite Neil’s pro-Howard delirium I think it is reasonable to say that (apart from in the rabid right blogosphere…ala Boltville etc.) the shine has been knocked off of the Rodent’s self adulatory record in the eyes of many.
    Interesting to see the silly old prick trying to beat the “terror drum” anew yesterday; FFS, someone give him a new hymnbook. He still doesn’t realise that the US’s biggest enemy is the cabal in charge of it. Trying to tie teh terrorists into the global economic crisis is about as subtle as a shit sandwich without the sauce.
    According to Howie, teh terrorists are out there waiting, obsessed with the destruction of teh West. Naught better to do than rub their hands with glee as the US self-implodes. GMAFB.

    That picture of Australia’s biggest (insert any sport) fan makes me chuckle every time. Can we have the sidesplitting footage of his deadly cricketing ability when he next unflushes himself on “non-core to the core mk8”?

  17. The man of steel in action!

  18. That Sieg Heil really suits the man.

  19. For Neil of Sydney

    Howard as Treasurer (1977-1983)

    The Canberra Times, 9 April 2007:

    When Howard became treasurer the budget deficit was $3.2 billion, inflation 8 per cent, the unemployment rate 6.3 per cent and the growth rate 1.6 per cent.

    When he surrendered the keys to the Treasury to Paul Keating in March 1983, the budget deficit was $4.3 billion, inflation was 11 per cent, unemployment was 10.2 per cent, and growth was a negative 0.4 per cent. Not a beautiful set of numbers!

  20. Caney

    Thanks for the link. It also said the the recession when Howard was Treasurer was the worst since the great depression. These things happen. Apparently there were approx 10 months of double digit unemployment in 1983. Its how you handle a recession that is the issue. Maybe he did a bad job. I have done bad jobs myself. I try to learn from my mistakes.

    When Keating was in control during the recession he ruled over according to the Table i am looking at there were 28 months of double digit unemployment covering 1991 to 1994. Furthermore our unemployment rate was much higher than the United States during this time.

    So my unemployment table tells me 10 months of double digit unemployment when Howard was Treasurer and 28 months during the Keating recession.

    I think the recession Fraser/Howard had to deal with was much worse than the world wide recession during Keatings rule. So i conclude that Howard did a better job than Keating

  21. Yay. Happy feet, happy me. Thank you.

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