John Howard Collects His Order Of Merit

Former Liberal Prime Minister John Howard has received the Order of Merit from the Queen.

In London for the Jubilee celebrations, Howard met with the Queen to receive the award which is solely within the gift of the monarch.

Howard told the Queen: “It was an enormous privilege to be your Australian prime minister.”

AFL Grand Final: Political Speeches

One of the traditions of the Australian Football League Grand Final is the North Melbourne Grand Final Breakfast.

It is customary for the Prime Minister and Opposition Leader to address the breakfast each year. On occasion, events conspire against their attendance and their deputies stand in.

Here’s a selection from the past decade.

  • 2002

    John Howard (Liberal PM)

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    Simon Crean (ALP Opposition Leader)

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  • 2007

    John Howard (Liberal PM)

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    Kevin Rudd (ALP Opposition Leader)

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  • 2008

    Julia Gillard (ALP Deputy Prime Minister)

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    Malcolm Turnbull (Liberal Opposition Leader)

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  • 2010

    Julia Gillard (ALP Prime Minister) and Julie Bishop (Liberal Deputy Leader)

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  • 2011

    Julia Gillard (ALP Prime Minister)

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    Tony Abbott (Liberal Opposition Leader)

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This is the text of Opposition Leader Tony Abbott’s address to the 2011 AFL Grand Final Breakfast in Melbourne.

It’s great to be making my maiden appearance at this great national institution, the North Melbourne Grand Final Breakfast.

Ladies and gentlemen, the supreme virtue of Australian Rules is that it’s the one football code that wasn’t invented in England.

My one and only game was a defiant assertion of our national identity: I was playing for Oxford University Australians against Cambridge University Australians.

Unfortunately, no one had told me that a ball kicked out was thrown in by the umpire and not by a player, so I instinctively grabbed the ball and tried to form a line out.

It was at this point that I realised a “balls-up” was not just another way of restarting play – or what happens when politicians try to address the problems of the nation.

My Aussie Rules education continued during last year’s election campaign with Jobe Watson teaching me to handball, badly, at Windy Hill and Harry Taylor giving me marking practice at Skilled Stadium. It was an expensive lesson: we made a $36 million commitment to rebuild the place because Frank Costa drives a hard bargain.

Right now, there seem to be a few parallels between the AFL and politics.

In recent days we have seen someone called Swan labelled the best at his craft in the whole world. Well sorry, Wayne. Dane Swan is the world’s greatest and he thoroughly deserved the Brownlow medal.

I understand that Collingwood has a succession plan that involves Mick Malthouse relinquishing power to Nathan Buckley. It’s just like John Howard planned to hand over to Peter Costello. Lucky there’s an Eddie McGuire to make the deal stick.

Geelong has done magnificently, even after sending their best player to Queensland. It’s a bit like the Australian government after Kevin Rudd was put on the transfer list.

There’s a lot of talk at the moment about everything being too negative and too aggressive with all the focus being on bringing the other side down and I reckon that means Cameron Ling would make a great opposition leader.

Ladies and gentlemen, I want to pay tribute today to two historic clubs and to everyone who’s helped two great sides to get to this year’s Grand Final.

It might not make much sense for our clubs and our pubs but, for politicians on Grand Final day, there is no escaping mandatory pre-commitment. Mine is to the Cats: and by 10 points.

Finally, I should acknowledge that there will soon be an AFL team in western Sydney – a place where Aussie Rules supporters were once as rare as Liberal voters.

I do hope that this new club might further initiate me into the sacred rites of the AFL provided I’m permitted a bit of political evangelism on the side.

Thank you so much, ladies and gentlemen.

John Howard Talks Politics

John Howard is out and about promoting the new paperback version of his memoirs.

Howard has written an extra chapter of his memoirs, Lazarus Rising.

In these three videos from Channel 10, he discusses a wide range of issues.

1987 Flashback: Let’s Stick Together

“Let’s Stick Together” was the ALP’s election slogan in 1987, the year Bob Hawke defeated John Howard’s coalition and won a third term.

1987 also saw the famous Whingeing Wendy ads.

Some 1987 election audio is available here.

John Howard Returns To The Fray

The former Prime Minister, John Howard, has returned to the political fray with an interview on Fox News and screened on Sky News Australia.

The interview comes one day in advance of the premiere of the the ABC television series, The Howard Years.

Coming Soon: The Howard Years

This is a YouTube video featuring an ABC television promotion for its forthcoming documentary series, The Howard Years.

Clare O’Neil: Howard’s Terrifying Lack Of Reflection

In March, John Howard visited Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, where I am a Master of Public Policy student. Howard began his visit with a formal address on Australia/China relations. About 250 Harvard students and staff assembled in the school’s famous John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum to listen.

John Howard Addresses the John F Kennedy Jr Forum at Harvard University

Howard reflected on his term as a period of deepening integration between Australia and China, evidenced by growing trade between the two countries. He framed the relationship in pragmatic terms, which drew a contrast to the familial bonds he described between Australia and the US. [Read more…]

Bennelong Declaration Ends Howard’s Political Career

The Australian Electoral Commission today declared the result in the electorate of Bennelong, formalising Maxine McKew’s victory over the former Prime Minister, John Howard.

Howard and McKew at the Bennelong declaration

Howard attended the declaration, congratulated McKew and spoke of the beauty of a democracy in which a peaceful transition of power can take place. [Read more…]

2007 Election: Update On Doubtful Seats

Labor Government Lead Dwindling; 16-Seat Majority Likely; 8 Seats Still Undecided

Dec 07 – 6.15pm – Nearly two weeks after polling day, counting continues for all electorates in the House of Representatives, with absentee, postal and declaration votes trickling in. The Australian Electoral Commission now has the ALP on 80 seats, the Liberals 50, The Nationals 10, and independents 2. There are 8 seats still in doubt. La Trobe is no longer regarded as doubtful, retained by the Liberal member, Jason Wood, by 889 votes.

  • Herbert – (Qld – Liberal) – Lib ahead by 323.
  • Dickson (Qld – Liberal) – Lib ahead by 221.
  • Bowman (Qld – Liberal) – Lib ahead by 102.
  • Swan (WA – Labor) – Lib ahead by 280.
  • Solomon (NT – CLP) – ALP ahead by 196.
  • Robertson – (NSW – Liberal) – ALP ahead by 182.
  • McEwen – (Vic – Liberal) – Lib ahead by 22.
  • Flynn (Qld – open) – ALP ahead by 459.

On these figures, a final result seems likely to deliver 83 ALP, 65 Coalition, 2 independents. This would produce a Labor majority of 16 (15 on the floor of the House).


Doubtful Seats Still Doubtful

Nov 30 – 8.45pm – Counting continues for all electorates in the House of Representatives, with absentee, postal and declaration votes trickling in. The deadline for the votes is late next week. The ALP is now 1,158 votes ahead in Corangamite and the AEC has removed it from its list of doubtful seats. McEwen and Robertson have been reinstated:

  • Herbert – (Qld – Liberal) – Lib ahead by 60.
  • Dickson (Qld – Liberal) – Lib ahead by 106.
  • Bowman (Qld – Liberal) – ALP ahead by 116.
  • Swan (WA – Labor) – Lib ahead by 239.
  • Solomon (NT – CLP) – ALP ahead by 262.
  • Robertson – (NSW – Liberal) – ALP ahead by 296.
  • McEwen – (Vic – Liberal) – Lib ahead by 396.
  • La Trobe (Vic – Liberal) – Lib ahead by 544.
  • Flynn (Qld – open) – ALP ahead by 636.

The AEC has the ALP winning 80 seats, the Liberals 49, The Nationals 10, and independents 2. A final result seems likely to deliver 84 or 85 seats to the ALP.


ALP Still On 80 Seats As Counting Continues

Nov 30 – 12.55am – The Australian Electoral Commission currently has the ALP with 80 seats, the Liberals 50, The Nationals 10, and independents 2. It lists 8 seats as doubtful:

  • Herbert – (Qld – Liberal) – ALP ahead by 27.
  • Bowman (Qld – Liberal) – ALP ahead by 60.
  • Swan (WA – Labor) – Lib ahead by 187.
  • Dickson (Qld – Liberal) – Lib ahead by 207.
  • Solomon (NT – CLP) – ALP ahead by 262.
  • Flynn (Qld – open) – ALP ahead by 590.
  • La Trobe (Vic – Liberal) – Lib ahead by 661.
  • Corangamite (Vic – Liberal) – ALP ahead by 764.

The NSW seat of Macarthur is no longer listed as doubtful. The sitting Liberal member, Pat Farmer, is ahead by 711 votes.


New Doubtfuls Emerge

Nov 28 – 11.00pm – The A.E.C. has added Corangamite, Solomon and Flynn to the six seats classified as doubtful yesterday. Latest counting shows:

  • Bowman (Qld – Liberal) – ALP ahead by 21.
  • Herbert – (Qld – Liberal) – ALP ahead by 108.
  • Swan (WA – Labor) – Lib ahead by 153.
  • Dickson (Qld – Liberal) – Lib ahead by 268.
  • Solomon (NT – CLP) – ALP ahead by 428.
  • Flynn (Qld – open) – ALP ahead by 590.
  • Macarthur (Qld – Liberal) – Lib ahead by 598.
  • La Trobe (Vic – Liberal) – Lib ahead by 730.
  • Corangamite (Vic – Liberal) – ALP ahead by 767.

In Bennelong, Labor’s Maxine McKew is 2,445 votes ahead of John Howard.


Update On Doubtful Seats

Nov 27 – 5.15pm – Whilst counting is not complete, the Australian Electoral Commission has judged the ALP to have won 83 seats, the Liberals 49, Nationals 10, and Independents 2.

Earlier today, the AEC removed McEwen from its doubtful list after the sitting Liberal member, Fran Bailey, established a lead of 872 votes. There are now 6 doubtful seats:

  • Bowman (Qld – Liberal) – Lib ahead by 27.
  • Swan (WA – Labor) – Lib ahead by 63.
  • Dickson (Qld – Liberal) – ALP ahead by 234.
  • Macarthur (Qld – Liberal) – Lib ahead by 508.
  • Herbert – (Qld – Liberal) – ALP ahead by 560.
  • La Trobe (Vic – Liberal) – Lib ahead by 712.

The best guess is that Bowman and Swan remain doubtful, whilst the current leaders will win the other seats. On this basis, the worst result for the ALP will be 85 seats, a majority of 20, or 19 after the provision of a Speaker. The most likely best result for the ALP is 87 seats, a majority of 24, or 23 after the provision of a Speaker.

Oppositions Do Win Elections: Gartrell Analyses ALP Election Victory

Tim Gartrell, National Secretary of the ALPThe ALP has disproved the notion that oppositions don’t win elections, governments lose them, according to Tim Gartrell, National Secretary of the ALP.

Addressing the National Press Club in Canberra, Gartrell argued that Labor won the election campaign outright and that the election of Kevin Rudd as leader of the ALP exactly one year ago was when the momentum began. Gartrell argued that “the momentum Labor built through 2007 was not confined to the return of one single group. It goes comprehensively deeper and wider than that. It was a wave that swept up Australians in almost every demographic – at either end of the spectrum and in the middle. The under 30s and the over 60s. Manual trades workers and the university educated. Mums at home and families with both parents working.”

Gartrell claimed a wide-ranging swing for the ALP: “This was self-evidently not a swing confined to narrow, sectional groups. This was a swing that on election day would deliver seats to Labor in Far North Queensland, on the Central Coast of New South Wales, in western Sydney and the suburbs of Brisbane and in John Howard’s own backyard – Bennelong.” [Read more…]