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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

Howard and Menzies « Previous | |Next »
July 12, 2006

In an op. ed. in The Age Wayne Errington and Peter Van Onselen contest the argument that John Howard's prime ministership "amounts to a fundamental betrayal" of the Liberal Party's founder, Robert Menzies. They say that this view, recently argued by Norman Abjorensen, well and truly overstates its case. They argue that Howard and Menzies have practised different policy scripts and that:

Howard is fully aware of the differences between his economic policies and those of his hero. Yet, Howard's more market-oriented platform is not the result of the triumph of a narrow NSW-based ideology, as Abjorensen asserts. It is part of a re-alignment of public policy in Australia over three decades driven by the demands of a changing world.

There are similarities as well as differences ----if John Howard has captured the language of nationalism to talk about national unity and social cohesion, then he continues to appeal to the moral middle class and to provide subsidies (though not tariffs) if industry screams loud enough, as it does.

Then we have this comment from Errington and Van Onselen:

John Howard has won four successive elections against a united and professional Labor Party through a combination of his small-government philosophy, pragmatism and tough decisions. Menzies would have approved of that. The suggestion that Howard and Menzies have practised different policy scripts is not new. Nor is overstating their differences.

Small goverment philosophy? That is not John Howard. As a political conservative he stands for big centralized government.

Though Howard is a market liberal he is not a libertarian or a classical liberal.The authority of the state has priority over individual freedom and unity and social cohesion place boundaries around, and contain, individual rights and freedom. Errington and Van Onselen only see the social conservatism Like other commentators they do not see the political conservatism. Or if they do they assume it is of no import.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 11:11 AM | | Comments (0)