Throw Howard Out

Don't Get Fooled Again! Throw Howard out in 2007

These pages will be dedicated to ensuring that John Howard does not get re-elected in 2007.

If Australia had a critical and enquiring newsmedia he would not have remained in Govenment beyond 1998 after his Government's infamous collusion with Corrigan's attempt to destroy the Maritime Workers Union with mercernary strikebreakers and guard dogs.

From The Age, 23 Jan 2006

These pages will be dedicated to ensuring that John Howard does not get re-elected in 2007.

If Australia had a critical and enquiring newsmedia he would not have remained in Govenment beyond 1998 after his Goverenment's infamous collusion with Corrigan's attempt to destroy the Maritime Workers Union with mercernary strikebreakers and guard dogs. However, his Government has been able to survive, seemingly against the odds to inflict countless more crimes against the public interest, workers, the poor, the environment and future generations.

These pages aim to explain why this was possible and to ensure that his record of crime ends in 2007.

Whilst a vote against Howard and ultimately for Labor the only viable alternative to the Liberals in 2007 under Australia's preferential voting sytem, is essential, Labor is, itself not without grave shortcomings. These pages will also place Kevin Rudd's Labor Party and other oppositon parties such as The Greens, The Democrats and smaller left-wing alternatives under the critical microscope.

Nothing fair about this "fairness test"

AWAs arrive faster than they're processed, and increasingly, they fail the fairness test. 6 September, there was a backlog of 110,000 AWAs awaiting vetting; 9 November - the backlog was 142,000.

MP Hockey's office "assures" me that "the Workplace Authority is doing everything possible to ensure agreements are processed in a timely manner." [6 November, letter]

MP Hockey should tell that to the many hundreds of thousands of hard-working Australians covered by backlogged AWAs.

Instead, PM Howard, master of spin, asserts, "I think what it indicates is the fairness test is working." [10 November, Sydney Morning Herald]


Nearly 50% of AWAs fail to provide sufficient information. Any car manufacturer with that failure rate would be out of business! Nearly 15% of AWAs required amendment or further information. We would prosecute any bank for such an error rate! Fully 1% of AWAs failed
out-right and were cancelled. We would sue any medical professional with that failure rate!

As usual, those who can afford it the least suffer the most at the hands of this Government. While employers have 14 days to "pay the required backpay," that happens only *after* the Workplace Authority has made its decision on the AWA. With the huge backlog, requests for further information, and amending AWAs, this process takes MONTHS.

AWAs and the fairness test have created a bureaucratic nightmare. "I give this rock solid guarantee our policy will not cause a cut in the take home pay of Australian workers." [PM Howard, 7 July 2005, ABC]

Tell that to the hundreds of thousands of workers whose AWAs have been knocked back for failing the fairness test.

Judy Bamberger,
O'Connor ACT

Contact information below.

Judy Bamberger
O'Connor ACT 2602
+61-2-6247-6220 (work and fax)
+61-2-6247-4746 (home)
+61-404-062-926 (mobile)

See also

What are the prospects for Labor bringing about a just society?

The Australian Labor Party, the world's oldest political political party still in existence, is a contradictory organisation. With its record in Government, at the Federal and state levels, and in opposition, led by Kevin Rudd, with an ever-diminishing number of policy positions which distinguish it from the ruling Howard Liberal Government, it is all too easy for critics to the left of Labor to dismiss it as no better than the Liberal Party as indeed the Greens, the Democrats and some parties of the far left have maintained either implicitly or explicitly.

Yet there seems to be no other path out of the political rut in which this country has become stuck since the election of Howard in 1996, except through the election of Labor.

Labor's dismal record since 1983

Since at least the early 1980's the Labor Party has been dominated by leaders who have acted to represent the same kinds of powerful vested interests that the Labor Party was originally formed to oppose, that is large corporations, financiers, property developers and land speculators.

Every Labor Government that has come to office since 1983, at both the Federal and state level has shamelessly, and often corruptly, served those interests to the detriment of its own support base, the country as a whole, and the environment.

Both Bob Hawke and Paul Keating willingly adopted the agenda of the economic neoliberals to 'reform' the Australian economy to give more wealth and power back to the Australian elite. This entailed the deregulation of the Australian economy, including the rate of exchange of the Australian dollar and the banking and finance sector, allowing greater access by foreign investors to Australian companies, land and mineral wealth, and an increase in the rate of immigration.

In 1986, the Hawke Government privatised the pension system, adopting the model of that had been conceived by neoliberal economist Milton Friedman and had been previously implemented by the Chilean military dictatorship. They failed to even consider the more equitable and efficient system which had been proposed by Professor Keith Hancock for the previous Whitlam Government.

The result has been that millions of ordinary Australians, in an increasingly casualised labour market, often having been forced to join a new scheme for each new employer, have had much of their funds flow, as commissions and annual management fees, into the pockets of the fund managers. In spite of this abysmal outcome, the Labor Party still, almost unbelievably, hold this to be a proud achievement of the Hawke/Keating years.

Almost following to the letter John Howard's script presented to the public in the 1986 elections, the Hawke and Keating Labor Governments sold nine of the twelve public enterprises on John Howard's hit list, including the Commonwealth Bank, QANTAS, and the Commonwealth Serum Laboratories. They stopped short of privatising Telstra, but they nevertheless deregulated the telecommunications sector, paving the way for the Howard Government's eventual full privatisation of Telstra.

At the state level, Labor Governments have been no better. They, too, have sold off state owned banks and insurance companies and much publicly owned land and many publicly owned buildings. Most have harmed the environment by promoting population growth and property development and supporting ecologically destructive industries including woodchipping, coal and Uranium mining and aluminium smelting.

Even at the level of local government where they should be closer to the people, Labor councillors still poorly represent many communities. Brisbane City Council, whilst having a Liberal Lord Mayor Campbell Newman elected in 2004 still has a majority of Labor Councillors. However, Brisbane residents' hopes that Labor would use its majority to curb the excesses of Newman have been repeatedly dashed.

Today, much of Brisbane resembles a war-zone as Campbell Newman realises his engineer's dream of fixing up problems, caused by population growth and past planning failures, by building a parallel transport system underneath Brisbane. Tunnel projects include the North South Bypass Tunnel (NSBT), the Northern Link and the the Airport Link. All of these are to be operated by private consortiums and their use will incur tolls. In addition, all bus movements through the CBD are to be moved underground, to leave the streets above ground free for private motor vehicles.

Most of these projects have provoked heated community opposition and groups have been formed to oppose the NSBT and the Hale Street Bridge. In spite of the overwhleming cases against all of these projects and ovewhelming oppostion from at least the affected communities, the Labor majority has given into Mayor Lord Mayor Newman on each occasion.

Why Labor can nevertheless become a vehicle for change

However, the fact remains that the Labor has drawn, and continues to draw, into its ranks, people who have the best motivations and aim to work through the Labor Party to bring about goals similar to what the Labor Party originally stood for. It would be wrong to assume, in spite of the seemingly insurmountable corrupting influences that now exist within Labor, that such elements will never again prevail.

This happened in the years of the Whitlam Labor Government and happened, more recently, albeit very briefly and tenuously, when Mark Latham became Labor Party leader.

Mark Latham's diaries published in 2005, reveal that he had, indeed, joined the Labor Party, entered Parliament and worked his way up the ranks all the way to the Federal Labor Party leadership for the most laudable aims.

To be sure, many of Latham's political ideas, including his embrace of 'dry economics' were not good. He held out Tony Blair's Labor Government in the UK, which had left intact nearly all of Margaret Thatcher's program of privatisation, emasculation of the Trade Unions and cutbacks to social spending and which had followed George Bush into the Iraq war, as the model that an Australian Labor Government should follow.

Nevertheless, in spite of this, it is clear that Latham was genuinely offended by the corrupt power of Australia's elites as well as those within the trade union movement and the Labor Party and was resolved to end this. In his diaries, he stated that his goal was to take political power in order to give it back to communities and ordinary people. He also adopted 'politically incorrect' stances including opposition to high immigration and once referred to many Australians' fixation upon the rising value of their own homes (largely caused by the increased demand for property fueled by immigration) as 'the great Australian disease'.

He was resolved to begin to drastically reduce the scale of woodchipping in Tasmania and to end Australia's involvement in the Iraq war.

Having stood for such decent democratic principles also eventually proved to be Mark Latham's undoing, but the fact that he came so close to succeeding, shows that even the Labor Party is not entirely impervious to the influence of genuinely uncorrupted progressive political forces.

If the Labor Party, with a leader demonstrating the elements of idealism and altruism shown by Whitlam and Latham were ever to form Government, then that Labor Government could indeed be the vehicle for the changes which are necessary to establish a fair and decent society and also to confront the grave environmental threats that our society and our whole planet face.

Even given the questionable record of the existing Rudd-Gillard Federal Labor leadership, it can't be entirely ruled that either or both of them may yet prove to be such leaders.

However, this seems unlikely in the current political context. If Labor is elected the two more likely scenarios are:

  1. a monolithic Labor Government which will govern in the interests of the wealthy as those of Keating and Hawke have done before, or
  2. a less monolithic Labor Government, where those opposed to pro-business policies will be prepared to take a public stance.

An anti-Howard grass roots mass movement is needed

A non-monolithic Labor Government is more likely if a popular grass-roots movement in favour of progressive change is brought into existence.

Such a mass movement should be unambiguously in favour of the election of Federal Labor as the only feasible alternative to the continued rule of John Howard's unaccountable, anti-democratic and morally bankrupt Government.

This should not preclude it from from being strongly and openly critical of Labor's poor policy decisions: support for woodchipping and the pulp mill in Tasmania, support for Uranium mining, watering down of its opposition to 'WorkChoices', support for high immigration and population growth and the abandonment of opposition to privatisation of Telstra.

Also, this should not preclude such a movement advocating a primary vote for independents or smaller parties which have better policies than those of either Labor or Liberal.

However, it must be unflinchingly clear on the need to use Australia's preferential voting system to preference Labor candidates ahead of any Liberal or National candidates. This will ensure that where those minor candidates or independents fail to win office their votes will flow to a Labor candidate.

If it argues such a case clearly and logically it need not drive voters back into the arms of the Liberal Party.

If, upon winning Government, Federal Labor maintains its current pro-business agenda, then the grass-roots movement will be in a position to ensure that disaffection with the Government will cause Labor's base of support to change its allegiance to something better, rather than to simply drift back to the Liberal Party as has happened in the past. In such circumstances, the prospect of a party such as the Greens, or else, some other party formed through the likely ensuing political struggles being able to form Government, will become more achievable.

However, this scenario is unlikely to unfold if John Howard's Government retains office in 2007.


">1. "Australia's neoliberal path" by Kenneth Davidson in Dissent Magazine isue 23 Autumn?Winter 2007.

Will John Howard save democracy in Queensland?

Also as "Dictatorial conduct" on Online Opinion on 12 Aug 07.

John Howard, the same man who privatised Telstra against the wishes of 70% of Australians and even more strenuous opposition from rural Australia, and who sold out the interests of beef and pork producers in signing the Australia US Free Trade Agreement in 2005 has emerged, in the past week, as the unlikely saviour of Queensland democracy.

What fair democratic-minded person could possibly have objected to the following words coming from the mouth of our Prime Minister on ?

"I challenge the Premier of Queensland, let the people speak on your amalgamations proposal," he said.

"Let the people of Queensland decide and let this be a reminder that if you remove the check and balance of this system, if you have Labor governments at every level, this sort of behaviour will become the norm.

"Within the limits of the constitution, we will do what we can to force the Queensland Government to consult the people of Queensland, to force the Queensland Government if necessary - to shame the Queensland Government into actually consulting the people of Queensland."

John Howard since backed up these words by offering to fund, through the Australian Electoral Commission, putting the question of amalgamations to the affected residents of Queensland through referenda to be held concurrently with the forthcoming Federal elections.

This offer, along with attempts already underway by Queensland Councils to consult with their communities, has drawn over-the-top responses from Queensland Premier Peter Beattie and the Local Government Minister Andrew Fraser. At the last minute, when the legislation was being rushed through Queensland parliament in the early hours of Friday 10 August, amendments were added to the legislation that would allow the Queensland Government to instantly dismiss any Council that attempted to conduct any referendum or which requested the AEC to conduct a referendum.

The Courier Mail of 11 August that Andrew Fraser had councils even for counting or collating votes returned in response to ballot forms already sent out.

The Mayors of Warroo, Boonah and Nebo shires .

John Howard subsequently, on 16 August, enacted legislation, with the support of the Federal Labor Party, to over-ride the Queensland laws in order to allow Councils to conduct referenda. By Sunday, both Beattie and Fraser had changed their tunes. In an interview with Barry Cassidy on ABC Televison's "Insiders", Beattie said, " ... if people want to have a protest and the Prime Minister wants to pay for that protest vote, then that's fine by us, we're not going to fine councils." However, Beattie neglected to reflect upon the trouble that his behaviour over the previous ten days had put the Federal Parliament to.

Mr Beattie also made it clear that he had no intention of abiding by the wishes of residents in any council were the outcome to indicate opposition to amalgamation. His justification was an AC Nielsen poll of all of 1000 Queenslanders, which he claimed showed that 73 per cent said "that we need stronger councils to deal with our growth." Why it follows, even if these figures are to be accepted as the true feelings of all Queenslanders in regard to the question of amalgamations, that those in areas, where opposition to amalgamations was strong, should accept that verdict, was not explained.

Many Queenslanders, who now are now rushing into John Howard's arms, need to ponder whether Howard is sincere in his apparent indignation against the Beattie Government's dictatorial conduct, or whether they may only be being used by John Howard, and Peter Beattie, also, as pawns to suit their respective cynical purposes.

As a correspondent to The Courier Mail of Saturday 11 August of the forced amalgamations in Victoria in 1994:

(Liberal Premier) Jeff Kennett ... sacked all the councils in the state, replaced them with administrators sympathetic to his objectives, then set out to determine how the boundaries should be redrawn. As a result, all the councils were run under the tight control of the premier for 18 months or so while the amalgamations were implemented. There was no chance for referendums or consultation or negotiation with mayors or Councillors. There was no agonising over "the voice of the people". Everyone was sacked and out of the way while the process was driven through."

Prime Minister John Howard, although only Federal Opposition leader at the time, nevertheless, did nothing to dissuade his Victorian colleague from a course of action which was every bit as dictatorial as that which is now being undertaken by the Queensland Labor Government.

In government, John Howard has lowered the standards of democracy and government accountability to levels many would never have believed possible before. As a house of review, the Senate has been emasculated. All manner of important legislation is rammed through, in exactly the same way that the forced council amalgamation legislation was recently rammed through The Queensland Parliament with little or no opportunity for scrutiny of the legislation. Bills which have become law in this fashion include:

  • Bills currently before the Senate to take away the rights of aboriginal communities to manage their own affairs and to alter their land tenure

The misnamed "Work Choices" laws, which have changed the very fabric of our society was not even put to electors in the 2004 elections. In 2005 Howard announced his intention to enact industral ralations 'reforms' to be known as "Work Choices". Even before the bills were presented to Parliament, an unprecedented saturation level campaign of TV, Radio and Newspaper advertising was launched. This cost the taxpayer AU$55 million. Since then, the Government itself, by having belatedly changed the original legislation in election year, has acknowledged that the claims made in this advertising campaign were false.

During the 2004 election campaign Australian electors were bombarded with all kinds of advertising material promoting the supposed achievements of the Howard Government. One of these was the notorious "Strengthening Medicare" campaign, the claims of which were known, even at the time, to have been false. This campaign cost taxpayers AU$20 million.

John Howard's Government has shameless used the pork barrel to win votes in strategic marginal seats.

The Howard Government has also cut the funding to organisations which have been in any way critical of Government policy. Scientists working for the CSIRO who have been critical of the Governments inaction in the face of the threat of global warming have been sacked.

So, it would seem that John Howard's new found commitment to democratic principles may not be quite as strong as his moving condemnation of the Beattie Labor Government's outrages would lead many of us us to believe.

In fact it is striking how congruent the policies of Howard and Beattie are:

  • Both in spite of the obvious and growing peril that this poses to our global environment.
  • Both encourage rampant population growth to suit property developers and land speculators
  • Beattie, in common with all Labor Premiers indicated their support for the Australian US Free trade agreement, which grossly disadvantages Australia farmers, even before Federal Labor had adopted a policy on it in 2004
  • Both are engaged in extensive programs of privatising publicly owned land and other assets.
  • In 1999, even before the "never ever" GST legislation had been passed through the Senate in the face of heated popular opposition, the Labor state premiers, with Beattie foremost amongst them, fell over themselves, to sign agreements with Howard over the distribution of GST revenue.

As Mark Latham in "The Latham Diaries" the Victorian NSW and Tasmanian Labor Governments all acted to harm the electoral prospects of Labor in 2004, apparently to suit their own selfish interests.

The upshot of all of this may be, unless we are careful, that Howard will win in 2007, thanks to a swing against Federal Labor in Queensland, but will fail to reverse Beattie's amalgamations just as he failed to reverse Kennett's earlier . When Queensland Labor next faces the people in 2009, the horrors of the re-elected Howard Government may well cause many to forget Beattie's current outrages against democracy as previously happened to Bracks in 2006 and to Iemma, Carr's successor, in 2007.

Ironically, the best way for Queenslanders to punish the Beattie Labor Government for trampling on their democratic rights, may prove to be a strong vote for Labor in the forthcoming Federal election.