How will the eleven year rule of the Howard government be judged? With the Coalition’s (unfortunate) defeat many articles are being written on the alleged failures of the Howard era. Of course our left media are celebrating the end to more than a decade of conservative rule and are passing damning judgment on the Howard government. The Age’s Martin Flanagan argues the Howard government will be remembered for all the “wrong” reasons. He whinges about immigration, the aborigines, the Northern Territory intervention, climate change and the US alliance as if Howard's Australia were a type of Nazi Germany. Flanagan can only argue about these moral issues because the government has delivered on our real world national interests, namely the economy and national security.
Let us first look at the policies of the Coalition on immigration, the aborigines and climate change. Flanagan argues that the Pacific Solution, Mohamed Haneef and David Hicks were all disgraceful policies. However he loses sight of the most important result of our harsh immigration and border security policies. Australia did not suffer a terrorist attack on our soil for the entirety of Coalition rule. One cannot argue against the success of Howard’s policies in protecting Australia. Australia is the only member of the Coalition of the Willing not to have suffered a Islamic terrorist attack on our sovereign territory. Many politically correct commentators forget that we are essentially at war with Islamic fundamentalism and instead focus on apparent “human rights abuses”. Whilst fighting fanatical Islam we cannot become preoccupied with the human rights of terrorists like Hicks. He wasn’t tortured or seriously abused at Guantanemo Bay by the Americans. In contrast Al Qaeda behead their captured hostages on TV for propaganda. Australia and the United States cannot play fair with terrorists because the other side has utterly no regard for human rights with their draconian values.
On immigration the Coalition acted with popular support in 2001 to tighten up immigration policy. Flanagan chooses to ignore the fact that 70% of Australians supported the governments handling of Tampa and subsequent Pacific Solution policy. He falsely claims to speak for a majority when in fact most Australians supported a tough immigration policy. Targeted immigration policy has prevented the scenario in Britain and Europe where Islam is eroding law and order, security and social cohesion. It is undeniable that modern terrorism is overwhelmingly Islamic; the participants in September 11, the Bali bombings, Madrid train bombings and London attacks were all Muslim.
Climate change and aboriginal policy are Flanagan’s two final grievances. The Coalition is depicted as ignorant of global warming by Labor and the strategy contributed to Rudd’s victory. However once again the key point has been missed with climate change. It is essential to understand Australian carbon emissions account for less than 1% of the global total. Drastic reductions in Australia will not achieve anything because every week China builds another coal fired power station. Climate change is a global issue that has to involve the US, India and China making cuts. Kyoto was destined to fail because it allowed China and India to continue to emit whilst the US refused to ratify the agreement.
Of the countries that ratified Kyoto almost all have failed to meet their targets. Japan, the world’s second largest economy was unable to meet its quota and only a minority of nations like Germany look set to achieve their targets. Australia was right not to sign the tragically flawed Kyoto Protocol, although Prime Minister Rudd has vowed to ratify the agreement. The successor to Kyoto has to make the major emitters accountable and it will have to seriously address the problem of climate change unlike the “symbolic” importance of Kyoto.
National security is arguably the number one priority of any elected government. Particularly in an age of terrorism nations require strong border security and must also fight the source of extremism. Despite warnings that involvement in Afghanistan and Iraq would make Australia less safe there is absolutely no evidence to support this case. Indeed Australia did not endure a terrorist attack on our soil. Not only did Australia remain secure under the Howard government but we brought the fight to bin Laden and his Islamo fascist comrades. The essential purpose of the War on Terror is to prevent Al Qaeda attacks and fight them aggressively. Al Qaeda has not attacked a major member of the Coalition of the Willing in more than 2 years. Furthermore, it is in a weakened state and can only cause instability within Iraq.
In conclusion, the Howard era will be remembered for its real world achievements. Governments have to deliver policies to help their populations develop economically while maintaining security. The Left will moan and whine about “humanitarian” issues ranging from the aboriginals to climate change. The government never should be a moral arbiter beyond empowering and protecting people.