John Howard’s Commanding Performance

Posted by Kevin Rennie

Tonight is Episode 3 of The Howard Years: Commander-in-Chief

So here’s another installment in ‘The Poll that Counts’ video series: Tallyroom Tension. It has a small contribution from Fran Kelly the narrator of the ABC program.

The lead up to the 2001 election was a hard time for John Howard. We saw the ultimate pragmatist who avoided a post GST recession by spending his way out, after a quarter of negative growth. Yes, Johnny could be a Keynesian when survival counted.

In John Winston Howard : the definitive biography by Wayne Errington and Peter van Onselen, Peter Costello criticised Howard’s budgetary adventures in 2001 and 2004 as unsustainable. But they were effective.

That was Howard cunning working overtime. In 2001 we saw Lucky John emerge. In August the Tampa arrived with its ship load of Muslim refugees. He was in the States for September 11 and didn’t go into hiding like George W. Bush. What a double! All it needed was a large dash of jingoism mixed with a twist of lies for Labor’s chances to go overboard.

His good fortune with ALP leaders also helped to build his reputation as the consummate politician. First, Kim Beazley adopted a small target strategy during 2001. His me-too approach to terrorism and asylum seekers made him appear irrelevant during the election.

2004 saw the Mark Latham experiment which Howard exploited cleverly. He seemed unbeatable after the comfortable Coalition win that year.

But many Australians had other ideas. And Howard’s luck was about to change. But that’s next week’s story.


10 Responses

  1. I don’t think I’ll be able to bring myself to watch it tonight.

    I nearly vomitted last week when watching Queen Alexandra laugh himself into a self-congratulatory pink fit “I could tell John Howard was very happy with that, and he was really pleased with me..”


    And not to mention Gonzo (Peter Reith). He used to be such a big bloke, and now just looks likes some shrivelled demented rodent.

    I guess it must’ve been the thrill of being asked to make a television appearance after all these years of being exiled into irrelevance.

  2. I agree totally Reb. Why, soon we’ll have a documentary on Verandah Sandstone.

  3. “Verandah Sandstone”


    Now the Foreign Diplomat responsible for judging a good lasagne and chianti.

    It must be a very arduous life…

  4. With apologies Kevin for being off topic, but I couldn’t think of anywhere else to put it. Can’t resist.. From The Oz..

    JULIE Bishop has accus(ed) academic Peter van Onselen of having an “unhealthy obsession” with her over his vicious criticisms.

    Dream on Julie..

  5. Duck and cover time. I think that Latham was hard done by and ruthlessly done over by the media.

  6. LOL Excellent post Kevin.

  7. In 2001 we saw Lucky John emerge. In August the Tampa arrived with its ship load of Muslim refugees. He was in the States for September 11. . .

    “Lucky John” sums it up really. When Beazley saw the planes slam into the World Trade Centre he allegedly muttered “There goes the election”.

  8. Just a note. Our little nerdy bloke KRudd seems to be doing well in parliament. Just shows you what a good 6hrs sleep can do for one.

  9. Miglo @7

    Arthur Calwell said something similar to his deputy Gough Whitlam in 1963. JFK’s assassination happened a week before the Federal election.

    I was going to call the post: Luck, Lies and Latham. Any other “L” suggestions?

  10. […] Part 3 The Howard Years: Commander-in-Chief last night. Decided that my post yesterday should have been called: Luck, Lies and […]

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