Last night John Howard appeared on Q&A. And after asking a question about the war in Iraq, one irate audience member shouted “This is for the Iraqi dead” before hurling both his shoes towards the former Prime Minister. Here’s how it went down:
It was certainly compelling television and both John Howard and host Tony Jones handled it beautifully. 100% professionals in what must have been an awful situation. Props to both men. The other unforgettable moment was a video question from former Guantanamo Bay detainee David Hicks. You can see the whole episode here. It was fantastic.
Here is my post from earlier yesterday:
I was never a John Howard fan. Not when he was Prime Minister. In fact, I’ll go so far as to say there were many times during his 11 years in office that I felt ashamed to be Australian.
Ashamed at the way Pauline Hanson and her unashamedly racist, divisive, xenophobic rhetoric was allowed to flourish.
Ashamed at the way refugees were demonised and the outright lie of the ‘children overboard’ accusations were made by the governement who then refused to correct them until refugees had been demonised a whole lot more.
Ashamed that we didn’t say sorry to the stolen generation.
Ashamed that we weren’t signatories to the Kyoto Protocol.
cAll of those decisions were made by John Howard’s government.
Choosing not to condemn Pauline Hanson was a particular travesty. Had our Prime Minister come out and taken a position of moral leadership and condemned such blatant racism after she made that first, terrifying speech in parliament, he could have swiftly marginalised her and set the tone for an inclusive, tolerant Australia. Had he done that, One Nation would never have flourished – to the detriment, ironically of the Coalitio). But he allowed it. And tacitly encouraged it. And when her party disintegrated, he adapted many of their policies for his own party.
I think John Howard’s treatment of the refugees on the Tampa and, in fact, his demonising of all refugees was a very dark time in our recent history. The way he allowed children to remain behind razor wire…..it goes on.
On a social policy level, I think he had little clue about the pressures on modern families, particularly the stress involved in a household with two parents working outside the home. The nuclear, traditional family model from which he came and in which he lived with Jeanette and their three children was not representative of the way the majority of families now live. And I think the policies of his government reflected this disconnection, particularly when it came to the social and financial pressures faced by women. His answers seemed always to come back to the idea that everything would be fine if women just had kids and stayed home. I wonder, had he been in government when his daughter Melanie, a lawyer, had her baby and then returned to work, if these ideals may have changed his views. Perhaps.