Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2440/70068
Type: Thesis
Title: John Howard: a study in policy consistency.
Author: Murray, M. L. (Kim)
Issue Date: 2010
School/Discipline: School of History and Politics
Abstract: This thesis argues that the key policies of John Howard were consistent throughout his political career, from his entry into the Australian parliament in 1974 until Prime Minister in 2007 when he lost government and his seat of Bennelong. Studies of parliamentary debates, public speeches and policy documents reveal Howard’s reluctance to shift from policy positions that reflect his core philosophical and political convictions. They also show determination, self-belief and unremitting political ambition, despite significant obstacles. Many of Howard’s ideas are traced to the early influences of family, school, church, and the post-war, politically-conservative era of his youth, led by Liberal Prime Minister, Robert Menzies. Howard later used the narrative of his personal beliefs and value systems as factors that shaped his policy agenda, while drawing on his own background and experiences to indicate his understanding of what was important to “ordinary” Australians. Consequently, he was consistently a social conservative who supported traditional families, a British head of State, the ANZAC legacy as defining the moment of Australia’s nationhood and its national characteristics, a small-business/ entrepreneurial spirit, pride in colonial achievement and historical culture linked to Europe, with a Judeo-Christian base. He argued for border sovereignty, resisted the concept of multiculturalism, extracted acceptance of “Australian values” from new citizens, and rejected treaties, separatism, or a formal apology to Australia’s Indigenous people. His family’s small business background, attitude of self-reliance, and wariness of unions and public servants, pre-disposed his acceptance of the 1980s “New Right” or neo-liberal formulations of smaller government, deregulated markets and financial systems, competition, user-pays, targeted welfare based on mutual obligation, privatisation, broad-based taxation, and workplace reform that curtailed union power. Within this context, and aligned to personal predilections, he used neo-liberal critiques of so-called “élites” and “special interests” to appeal to “mainstream” Australia. Howard was prepared for strategic reasons to deviate, postpone or retreat on some issues, but was intransigent on core principles. He claimed most people knew the values he stood for, and that policy consistency was an element in his political success. However, when consistency became intellectual rigidity, it was his political downfall.
Advisor: Johnson, Carol Ann
Macintyre, Clement James
Patrikeeff, Felix
Dissertation Note: Thesis (Ph.D.) -- University of Adelaide, School of History and Politics, 2010
Keywords: John Howard; Australian leadership; policy
Appears in Collections:Research Theses

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