Last updated on March 6th, 2018 at 12:30 am
John Howard, over a few beers with The Bulletin’s Tony Wright, discusses Iraq’s election:
As far as the election is concerned in Iraq, that’s a truly heroic event as far as the people are concerned. The vote – 60%, or whether it’s 65% or the high 50s, I don’t know exactly what the total is – for anyone to vote in those circumstances is quite extraordinary. I think it will change the debate on Iraq because you can’t really go behind the expression of the democratic will. What are the critics going to say? Are they going to say we shouldn’t have had a ballot? Are they going to say we should go back to Saddam Hussein? What are they going to say? I don’t think they’re going to say anything.
And mostly they didn’t. On Australian patriotism:
I think Australians have become, in expression of their patriotism, both more confident and less inhibited. It’s not that the earlier generations weren’t patriotic – they were. But I think we find our own level with those things. I have never believed for a moment this country should be ashamed of where it came from or what it stood for. In the past, it’s made mistakes – of course it has, like any nation. It did go through a period 10 or 15 years ago when we were basically being told by certain people to apologise for our past; that if you didn’t believe in overthrowing a lot of things from your past, we weren’t being good, modern international citizens and I think there’s a lot about the past and the tradition of this country that you can draw on as a national leader. I just believe in the pursuit of Australia’s national interests. I believe Australians are an overwhelmingly warm-hearted decent people; they’re very capable, very adaptable and they have a great capacity in emergencies and disasters to pull together in a practical way.
Howard’s concern for practical outcomes is one of his most powerful electoral weapons. And on lowering taxes:
Oh, everybody believes in lower tax. Nothing wrong with that. I think we all do. And if opportunities present themselves, we’ll reduce the tax burden. You’re preaching to the converted.
So make it happen, Mr Howard. The whole piece is valuable reading; at one point a Howard press flack tried to call things off, but the PM waved him away. Oh, and former PM Paul Keating has received a free Bulletin subscription. Enjoy!