Howard Government


Howard Government

The Howard Government refers to the federal Executive Government of Australia for the 11 years that John Howard was Prime Minister. This government began on 11 March 1996 after the electoral defeat of the previous Keating Government. The Coalition parties, led by Howard, won a majority of seats in the Australian House of Representatives a further three times, and Howard continued to serve as Prime Minister for all of the four consecutive terms of office. The Government ended when Kevin Rudd became Prime Minister on 3 December 2007 following the defeat of the Coalition in the 2007 election.

Throughout the Howard Government, Cabinet was led by Prime Minister John Howard, with Peter Costello as the Treasurer and Alexander Downer as the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Tim Fischer served as Deputy Prime Minister until 20 July 1999, followed by John Anderson until 6 July 2005 and then Mark Vaile. Decisions of the Executive were made either by the Cabinet or by the appropriate Minister. The Howard Government had control of the lower house of the Australian Parliament because of its majority in the House of Representatives. For the first three terms of government, and part of the fourth term, the Howard Government did not have control of the Senate. Significant legislation needed the support of the Opposition or minor parties for that legislation to be passed and become law. In the 2004 election, the coalition won control of the Senate for its fourth term, and was able to pass legislation without the support of minor parties.

First term: 1996–1998

The federal election on 2 March 1996 gave the Liberal National coalition an election victory over the Labor party. The coalition obtained in the federal election on 2 March 1996 gave the coalition an enormous majority in the House of Representatives. Howard announced his proposed ministry team on 8 March 1996, with the Governor-General swearing them into office on 20 March. The Ministers of the Howard Government were selected from the Parliamentary caucus of the Liberal and National parties who have been in a stable Coalition at the federal level for many decades. In accordance with the coalition agreement, the leader of the Liberal Party was always the Prime Minister and the leader of the National Party was always the Deputy Prime Minister. The senior ministers meet together as the Cabinet to determine the policy direction of the Government.

Gun control legislation

The Government soon claimed that the previous Keating Government had left the present government with a "black hole" of debt. However, the first test of the government was the Tasmanian Port Arthur massacre in April 1996. This incident lead to controversial [http://www.nma.gov.au/education/school_resources/websites_and_interactives/primeministers/john_howard/] gun control legislation which was implemented on a bi-partisan co-operative arrangement across the States. Howard coordinated action by the state governments to restrict the private ownership of semi-automatic rifles, semi-automatic shotguns and pump-action shotguns and raised the prospect of a referendum on gun control. 10 May that year he structured a "National Firearms Agreement" covering related matters such as uniform firearms licensing, although this was never fully implemented.

The government did not have a majority in the Senate, and thus had to negotiate legislation through the Senate with either the Australian Democrats or the independents. The Senate modified Government legislation, including the partial privatisation of the government-owned telecommunications company, Telstra; the modification of industrial relations laws to promulgate individual contracts; increases in university fees; large funding cuts in the 1996 and 1997 budgets; a 30% private health insurance rebate; and the Wik 10 Point Plan, giving extinguishment of native title on pastoral leases.Fact|date=June 2008 During this first term, only two pieces of legislation were rejected outright by the Senate, being the Workplace Relationships Amendment Bill 1997 and the Telstra (Transition to Full Private Ownership) Bill 1998. [The Howard government: Australian Commonwealth Administration 1996-1998 By Gwynneth Singleton p 30]

Ministerial Code of Conduct

The coalition campaigned on a policy of "clean government"Howard government: Australian Commonwealth Administration 1996-1998 By Gwynneth Singleton p 31] as a contrast to the previous government. A "Code of Ministerial Conduct" [http://www.pmc.gov.au/guidelines/docs/ministerial_responsibility.pdf "A Guide on Key Elements of Ministerial Responsibility"] , Dept of the Prime Minister & Cabinet] was introduced in fulfilment of this pledge. The code required ministers to divest shares in portfolios that they oversaw and to be truthful in parliament. [Howard government: Australian Commonwealth Administration 1996-1998 By Gwynneth Singleton p 31] The code eventually led to seven cabinet ministers resigning following breach of the code. Jim Short and Brian Gibson both resigned in October 1996 [cite web
title=Ministerial Resignations and Dismissals Since 1901
url=http://australianpolitics.com/articles/executive/ministerial-resignations-and-dismissals-since-1901
first=Malcolm
last=Farnsworth
publisher=australianpolitics.com
accessdate=2008-10-06
] as both held shares in companies that were within their ministerial portfolios. [The Howard government: Australian Commonwealth Administration 1996-1998 By Gwynneth Singleton p 31] Bob Woods resigned in February 1997 over questionable ministerial expense claims. [http://australianpolitics.com/articles/executive/ministerial-resignations-and-dismissals-since-1901] Geoff Prosser resigned in July 1997 following the disclosure that he was a shopping centre landlord whilst he was responsible for commercial tenancy provisions of the Trade Practices Act 1975. [The Howard government: Australian Commonwealth Administration 1996-1998 By Gwynneth Singleton p 31] John Sharp [http://www.abc.net.au/elections/federal/2007/guide/lyne.htm] , David Jull [http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/11/20/1069027242984.html] and Peter McGauran) [http://australianpolitics.com/articles/executive/ministerial-resignations-and-dismissals-since-1901] [http://www.abc.net.au/lateline/stories/s215103.htm] resigned in September 1997 over irregularities in the use of ministerial travel allowances in what became known in the media as the "Travel Rorts Affair". [http://www.crikey.com.au/Politics/20071204-Setting-the-standards-with-a-little-help-from-Senator-John.html] [http://adt.caul.edu.au/homesearch/find/?recordid=182485&format=main] [cite book|coauthors=David Burchell, Andrew Leigh|title=The Prince's New Clothes|pages=144|isbn=086840604X, 9780868406046] John Moore and Warwick Parer survived revelations about his shareholdings. [cite book|coauthors=David Burchell, Andrew Leigh|title=The Prince's New Clothes|pages=144|isbn=086840604X, 9780868406046] Parer however was not reappointed to the Second Howard Ministry. [The Howard government: Australian Commonwealth Administration 1996-1998 By Gwynneth Singleton p 32] In early 1999, the government announced that ministers would no longer be required to divest themselves of shareholdings. [The Howard government: Australian Commonwealth Administration 1996-1998 By Gwynneth Singleton p 32]

Wik 10 point plan

In 1993 the Wik people sought a claim for native title which was rejected by the Federal Court of Australia.cite book|last=Griffiths|first=Max |title=Aboriginal Affairs 1967-2005: Seeking a Solution|publisher=Rosenberg Publishing|date= 2006|pages=155|isbn=1877058459, 9781877058455] It was assumed that under the earlier Mabo decision and the Native Title Act 1993 introduced thereafter that pastoral leases would extinguish native title. An appeal to the High Court of Australia in 1997 led to a judicial decision handed down on 23 December 2006 that native title could co-exist with pastoral leases. The government announced a ten point plan to deal with the uncertainty around native title. This was introduced into Parliament in September 1997. John Forbes in the Adelaide Review raised critical five issues which the proposed government plan did not address. A bill called was the "Native Title Act 1993 Amendment Bill" was introduced into Parliament. This was fiercely opposed by the Labor party in the Senate and the bill was unlikely to pass. A deal between Independent Senator Brian Harradine and the prime minister was able to break the deadlock which the government announced on 3 July 1998. The importance of the legislation for the government was that 120 agreements and permits which had been in doubt because of the Wik decision were now valid.

Other activities

A "work for the dole" system was introduced that required able-bodied social security recipients to seek work. The government-owned telecommunications company, Telstra, was partially privatised. Industrial relations laws modified to promulgate individual contracts. University fees increased. There were large spending cuts in the 1996 and 1997 budgets. A 30% private health insurance rebate was introduced.

econd term: 1998–2001

The 1999 Republican referendum

The 1999 Australian republic referendum was a two question referendum held in 1999. The first question asked whether Australia should become a republic with a President appointed by Parliament, a model that had previously been decided at a Constitutional Convention in February 1998. The second question, generally deemed to be far less important politically, asked whether Australia should alter the constitution to insert a preamble. Neither of the amendments passed, with 55% of all electors and all states voting 'no' to the proposed amendment.

The referendum was held on 6 November 1999, after a national advertising campaign and the distribution of 12.9 million Yes/No case pamphlets. The question on a republic was defeated. It was not carried in any state and attracted 45 per cent of the total national vote. The preamble referendum question was also defeated, with a Yes vote of only 39 per cent.

Many opinions were put forward for the defeat, some relating to perceived difficulties with the Parliamentary Appointment model, others relating to the lack of public engagement. Many republicans voted no because they did not agree with provisions such as the President being instantly dismissable by the Prime Minister. [http://vic.republic.org.au/index_files/speeches/MelbRep02.PDF]

GST

In the government's second term a Goods & Services Tax (GST) was introduced, replacing a range of taxes on specific goods with a flat rate on almost all goods and services. As a partial offset for the GST, a $7,000 "first home buyers grant" (FHOG) was introduced in 2000.cite web | url=http://www.firsthome.gov.au/ | title=First Home Owner Grantndash General Information | publisher=Australian Government | date=15 February 2002 | accessdate=2006-07-08]

Asian Relations

Following the August 1999 East Timor Special Autonomy Referendum result for secession from Indonesia and the subsequent "scorched earth" campaign by pro-Indonesian militias, Australia led a peacekeeping/policing force to East Timor (INTERFET). The mission was domestically popular and had bipartisan political support, ["That was something that was recognised Australia wide as being a very, very popular initiative." - [http://www.abc.net.au/pm/stories/s355962.htm Talkback radio reveals anti-Muslim sentiment] , "PM", ABC, 31 August 2001] but seriously damaged relations with Indonesia. [cite web |url=http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/library/news/1999/09/990928-timor4.htm |title=Indonesia / Australia Relations |accessdate=2008-07-31 |format= |work=GlobalSecurity.org |publisher= ]

After criticism from Paul Keating, Howard wrote an article for the The Bulletin. In this piece the reporter described Howards view of Australia's as acting in a "deputy peacekeeping capacity to the global policing role of the US" in the Asia-Pacific region. Howard addressed Parliament regarding the issue;

"I make it clear, Mr Speaker, that the Government does not see Australia as playing the role of the deputy for the United States, or indeed any other country in the region and neither does the Government see the United States itself playing a role as a regional policeman. That expression was used in the interview by the correspondent himself." [cite web |url=http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/stories/s55116.htm |title=Australia as regional police doctrine puts Howard in damage control |accessdate=2008-07-31 |format= |work= |publisher=ABC News ]

This concept was dubbed the Howard Doctrine and was widely denounced in Asia. [cite web |url=http://www.wsws.org/articles/1999/oct1999/pol-o14.shtml |title=East Timor provokes Australian foreign policy crisis |accessdate=2008-07-31 |format= |work=World Socialist Web Site |publisher= ]

"Children overboard affair"

In August 2001, the government refused permission for the Norwegian freighter MV "Tampa", carrying a group of asylum seekers picked up in international waters, to enter Australian waters. [ [http://www.australiaun.org/unny/il_271101.html Statement by Australian Ambassador] , UNITED NATIONS GENERAL ASSEMBLY 56th SESSION, 27 November 2001] When the Tampa entered Australian waters, the Prime Minister ordered the ship be boarded by Australian special forces. This brought censure from the government of Norway for Australia's failure to meet obligations to distressed mariners under international law at the United Nations.cite web | url=http://www.un.org/spanish/aboutun/organs/ga/56/verbatim/a56pv65e.pdf | title=United Nations General Assemblyndash Fifty-sixth session | format=PDF | publisher=United Nations | date=2001-11-27 | accessdate=2006-07-08]

In October 2001, a Suspected Illegal Entry Vessel (SIEV) containing 223 refugees was intercepted by an Australian warship. The Government claimed that the refugees threw their children in the water and sank the boat in an attempt to force the Australian sailors to grant them asylum. There was considerable evidence presented later that the Government had exaggerated or fabricated these claims.

These asylum restriction incidents resounded with the Australian electorate; many commentators cite the August 2001 Tampa controversy as the decisive issue in Howard's 2001 election victory. [ cite news | work=PM | title =Latest poll 'a nonsense': former Labor pollster | publisher =Australian Broadcasting Corporation | date =1 Jun 2004 | url =http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2004/s1120811.htm | accessdate =2007-08-29 ; cite news | work=Australia votes | title =Antony Green's Election Summary | publisher =Australian Broadcasting Corporation |date=2004 | url =http://www.abc.net.au/elections/federal/2004/guide/summary.htm | accessdate =2007-08-29 ; cite news | first=Shaun | last=Carney | title =The challenge for Australia | publisher ="The Age" | date = 11 September 2004 | url =http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/09/10/1094789685556.html?from=storylhs | accessdate =2007-08-29 ] Because it had required precise social and political calculation to embody such "protectionist" policies (opposed to the 'unconscionable' temporary solutions proposed by the nationalist One Nation Party) in legislation, to enact the Pacific Solution created during the Tampa litigation precluded any immature show of support from the legal community. [cite journal
last = Burnside
first = Julian
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Law and Justice: On the need for a human rights Act
journal = Meanjin: On Crime and Law
volume = 66
issue = 3
pages = 53–55
publisher = Meanjin Company Ltd., in association with the Australian Centre, University of Melbourne
location = Melbourne
date = 2007-08-09
url =
format =
issn =
accessdate =
] There was "an acute insight into constitutionalism" that raised the "humanitarian" questions of what the rule of law means if it is "precept, not cipher, an article of faith, not rhetoric". [cite journal
last = Pether
first = Penny
authorlink =
coauthors =
title = Law and Justice: On the need for a human rights Act
journal = Meanjin: On Crime and Law
volume = 66
issue = 3
pages = 46
publisher = Meanjin Company Ltd., in association with the Australian Centre, University of Melbourne
location = Melbourne
date = 2007-08-09
url =
format =
issn =
accessdate =
]

Third term: 2001–2004

The Governor General, Dr. Peter Hollingworth, faced allegations of not investigating Anglican ministers accused of paedophilia while he was Anglican Archbishop of Brisbane. Hollingworth subsequently resigned the governor-generalship. [cite news|url=http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/05/25/1053801279137.html|title=Governor-General quits|last=Riley|first=Mark|date=2003-05-26|work=The Sydney Morning Herald|accessdate=2008-09-14]

In April 2002 changes where made to Australian nationality law that allowed Australian citizens who had acquired another country's citizenship to keep their Australian citizenship concurrently. [cite web|url=http://www.citizenship.gov.au/automatic-citizenship/dual-citz.htm|title=Dual citizenship|publisher=Australian Government|accessdate=2008-09-14]

Despite its victory in 2001, the government did not have a Senate majority, and its ability to pass planned legislation was restricted.

Iraq

In March 2003, Australia joined 40 countries including the United Kingdom and the United States, in what US President George Bush referred to as the Coalition of the Willing in sending troops and naval units to support in the invasion of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. He told parliament:

Full disclosure by Iraq of its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons programs and immediate and total cooperation by Iraq with the provisions of resolution 1441 of the Security Council will remove the need for military action.cite web| First=John|last=Howard | url=http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/view_document.aspx?ID=2199337&TABLE=HANSARDR | title=Ministerial statements: Iraq | publisher=Hansard of the Parliament of Australia | date=2003-02-04 | accessdate=2007-08-29]

Australian opinion was deeply divided on the war and large public protests against the war occurred.cite web | url=http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2003/04/13/1050172471571.html | title=Protests across Australia against war | publisher="The Sydney Morning Herald" | date=2003-04-14 | accessdate=2006-07-08] Several senior figures from the Liberal party, including John Valder, a former president of the Liberal Party, and Howard's former friend and colleague, former Opposition Leader John Hewson and former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser publicly criticised Howard over Iraq. [cite web | url=http://sunday.ninemsn.com.au/sunday/political_transcripts/article_1622.asp | title=Interview with John Howard on Sunday (TV series) | publisher=NineMSN | author=Laurie Oakes | date=2004-08-15 | accessdate=2006-07-08; cite web | url=http://www.australianpolitics.com/news/2003/03/03-03-11.shtml | title=John Hewson Criticises Howard Iraq Policy | publisher=australianpolitics.com | date=2003-03-11 | accessdate=2007-05-28; cite web | url=http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2003/08/23/1061529379618.html | title=Liberal blast from one PM to another | publisher="The Age" | author=Andrew Webster | date=2003-08-24 | accessdate=2006-07-08] John Valder's criticism was particularly strong, claiming that Howard should be tried and punished as a war criminal.cite web | url=http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/07/18/1090089035899.html | title=Howard is war criminal, says former colleague | publisher="The Sydney Morning Herald" | date=2004-07-19 | accessdate=2006-07-08]

On 5 February 2003, the Australian Senate presented it's first vote of no-confidence against a serving leader for deploying troops to the Presian Gulf. [cite web |url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/2727551.stm |title=Australian PM censured over Iraq |date=2003-02-05 |accessdate=2008-07-24 |format= |work=BBC News ] The unprecedented vote carried no legislative power as the motion was defeated in the House of Representatives, however it served as a symbolic condemnation of John Howard and the Federal Government's unilateral decision to deploy troops ahead of the invasion of Iraq. Senior Australian intelligence officer, Andrew Wilkie resigned from his job citing ethical reasons. This resignation in protest indicated the strength of opposition to the war that was felt across the community. [cite web |url=http://www.abc.net.au/am/content/s804540.htm |title=Senior intelligence officer, Andrew Wilkie, resigns in protest |accessdate=2008-08-13 |date=2003-03-12 |work=Radio Transcript |publisher=ABC News (Australia) ] Wilkie later went on to challenge Howard in the Division of Bennelong electorate.

On Anzac Day 2004, Howard made a surprise visit to Australian defence personnel in Iraq. This came amid a bitter debate in Australia over the war following opposition leader Mark Latham's promise to return Australian troops by Christmas. Howard portrayed Latham as a threat to the U.S.-Australia alliance.

Renewable energy

On 6 May 2004, Howard convened a meeting with a group of energy industry representatives called the Lower Emissions Technology Advisory Group (LETAG). Although it met with the renewable energy sector separately, the Government was later criticised for not inviting them to this meeting. According to leaked minutes from the meeting, Howard would conclude that technology would be the long-term solution to greenhouse issues and his focus should be on ways to accelerate introduction of technology for reducing greenhouse gases, but that he was not looking for the establishment of public policy. Concerns about the cost and effectiveness of the current Mandatory Renewable Energy Targets (MRET) were also raised. [cite web | url=http://www.tai.org.au/documents/downloads/WP56.pdf| title=Minutes of a meeting of the Low Emissions Technology Advisory Group (LETAG) with the Australian Government| date=2004-05-06|accessdate=2007-01-21 ; cite web | url=http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2004/s1194166.htm| title=Leaked documents reveal fossil fuel influence in White Paper| date=2004-09-07| author=Andrew Fowler| accessdate=2007-01-24]

ame-sex relationships

In May 2004, and with the help of the Australian Democrats, [ [http://www.democrats.org.au/docs/ActionPlans/Attorney_GLBTI_2007.pdf Australian Democrats Action Plan] ] the Howard Government amended Australia's superannuation law to allow same-sex couples to inherit their partners' private sector superannuation.cite web | url=http://www.theage.com.au/news/federal-election-2007-news/gay-activists-remind-parties-of-promises/2007/11/08/1194329414759.html | title=Gay activists remind parties of promises | publisher="The Age" | date=9 November 2007 | accessdate=2007-11-09] Announcing the May 2004 proposal, Howard said::"The changes we are announcing today will provide greater certainty for the payment of super death benefits for those involved in interdependency relationships including, of course, members of same sex relationships"cite web | url=http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/05/27/1085461876842.html | title=PM targets gays in marriage law | publisher="The Sydney Morning Herald" | date=27 May 2004 | accessdate=2007-11-08] The changes did not extend to members in Commonwealth superannuation schemes.cite news |first=David |last=Marr |authorlink=David Marr (journalist) |title=One law changes, 57 stay? No thanks |url=http://www.smh.com.au/news/federal-election-2007-news/one-law-changes-57-stay/2007/11/08/1194329413119.html |publisher="The Sydney Morning Herald" |date=9 November 2007 |accessdate=2007-11-09 ]

On 13 August 2004, the Senate passed the Howard Government's [ [http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/translatewipilink.ASPX?Folder=HANSARDR&Criteria=DOC_DATE:2004-05-27;SEQ_NUM:42; parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au] ] Marriage Legislation Amendment Bill [cite news |title=Gay marriage ban passes parliament |url=http://www.smh.com.au/articles/2004/08/13/1092340456328.html |publisher="The Sydney Morning Herald" |date=2004-08-13 |accessdate=2007-11-08 ] which incorporated the common law definition of marriage—"the union of a man and a woman to exclusion of all others"—into the "Marriage Act" and the "Family Law Act". [ [http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/view_document.aspx?ID=1541&TABLE=oldbills&TARGET= PARLINFO WEB] ; [http://parlinfoweb.aph.gov.au/piweb/translatewipilink.ASPX?Folder=HANSARDR&Criteria=DOC_DATE:2004-05-27;SEQ_NUM:42; PARLINFO WEB] ]

Fourth term: 2004–2007

The Howard government revisited and secured the passage of previously blocked legislation, including:
**industrial relations changes
**the abolition of compulsory university student union fees and
**liberalisation of media ownership laws (by lowering restrictions on media companies owning multiple different media).

It also instructed the Governor-General to disallow a legislation, the ACT Civil Unions Act. [ cite web
url=http://www.gg.gov.au/governorgeneral/news.php?action=view&id=17|title=MATTERS PERTAINING TO THE CIVIL UNIONS ACT 2006 (ACT) |author=Governor-General of the Commonwealth of Australia |date=13 June 2006
; cite news
url=http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/commonwealth-quashes-act-in-battle-over-civil-union-laws/2006/06/13/1149964534754.html
title=Commonwealth quashes ACT in battle over civil union laws|first =Annabel | last = Stafford|publisher=Fairfax|work="The Age"|date=2006-06-14
]

*In April 2006, the government announced it had completely paid off the last of $96 billion of Commonwealth net debt inherited when it came to power in 1996.cite web
url=http://www.treasurer.gov.au/tsr/content/speeches/2006/008.asp |title=Speech to the Committee for Economic Development of Australia : "DEBT-FREE DAY" |last=Costello |first=Peter |date=20 April 2006
] Economists generally welcomed the news, while cautioning that some level of debt was not necessarily bad, and that some of the debt had been transferred to the private sector.cite web |url=http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2006/s1620425.htm |title=Costello announces 'debt free day' |last=ABC "PM" |date=20 April 2006] Verify source|date=October 2007

Industrial relations

In 2005, Howard announced significant changes to industrial relations laws. These became the subject of a national publicity campaign by the government and pronounced opposition from community groups, the union movement and state Labor governments. On 15 November 2005, public rallies were held to protest against the industrial relations changes. An estimated 100,000-175,000 people attended rallies in Melbourne and around 300 other meetings and rallies, held concurrently around the country, were also well attended. [cite news | first=Renee | last=Barnes | title =Protesters engulf Melbourne CBD | publisher ="The Age" | date =4 September 2001 | url =http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/protesters-engulf-melbourne-cbd/2005/11/15/1132016771730.html? | accessdate =2007-08-29; cite news | first=Renee | last=Barnes | title =Protesters turn out for IR rally | publisher ="The Age" | date =15 November 2001 | url =http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/protesters-turn-out-for-ir-rally/2005/11/15/1131951126171.html? | accessdate =2007-08-29] These meetings were organised by various unions and community organisations with the help of Labor and the Greens. Due to the Coalition's slim majority in the Senate, the passage of the proposed laws was put in doubt following criticisms from Queensland National Party Senator Barnaby Joyce, although he later voted in support of the legislation. The industrial relations laws were passed without substantial change.

Anti-terrorism measures

In mid 2005, John Howard and his cabinet began discussions of new anti-terror legislation which includes modification to the "Crimes Act 1914". In particular, sections relating to sedition are to be modified. On 14 October 2005, Jon Stanhope (Chief Minister of the ACT) took the controversial step of publishing the confidential draft of the Federal Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 on his website. [cite web | url=http://www.chiefminister.act.gov.au/media.asp?section=24&media=974&id=974&title= | title=Exposure draft of anti-terrorism laws | publisher=Jon Stanhope | date=2005-12-15 | accessdate=2006-07-08; cite web | url=http://www.chiefminister.act.gov.au/docs/B05PG201_v281.pdf | title=Draft Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 | format=PDF | publisher=Jon Stanhope | author=Australian Parliament | date=2005-12-15 | accessdate=2006-07-08] This action was both praised and criticised. [cite news| url=http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/pm-on-attack-over-draft-bill-release/2005/10/15/1128796741077.html| title=PM on attack over draft bill release | publisher="Sydney Morning Herald" | date=2005-10-15 | accessdate=2006-08-26; cite news| url=http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200510/s1483113.htm | title=Stanhope under fire over bill leak | publisher=ABC News Online | date=2005-10-15 | accessdate=2006-08-26] Citing concerns about civil rights raised by the Australian National University as well as concerns over the speed of the legislation's passage through parliament, he later refused to sign off on a revised version of the legislation, becoming the only State and Territorial leader not to sign. [cite web | url=http://www.chiefminister.act.gov.au/docs/Stanhope_advice_20051018.pdf| title=Human rights implications of the "Anti-Terrorism Bill" 2005 | format=PDF | publisher=Jon Stanhope | date=2005-10-18 | accessdate=2006-08-26; cite news| url=http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200510/s1483482.htm| title=Stanhope flags doubts on 'hasty' terrorism bill| publisher=ABC News Online | date=2005-10-17 | accessdate=2006-08-26] The House of Representatives passed the anti-terrorism legislation which was debated in the Senate before its final implementation in December 2005.

On 2 November 2005 Howard held a press conference to announce that he had received information from police and the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) that indicated an imminent terrorist attack in Australia. Within a week, on 8 November, anti-terrorist raids were held across Melbourne and Sydney, with 17 suspected terrorists arrested, including Abdul Nacer Benbrika. These raids, according to Howard, demonstrated the need for his Anti-Terrorism Bill. [cite news
first=Ian |last=Munro|coauthors= Silvester, John and Allard, Tom |url=http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/we-have-disrupted-a-largescale-attack/2005/11/09/1131407643684.html |title=We have disrupted a large-scale attack |publisher="The Age" |date= 9 November 2005 |accessdate=2006-08-26
] Critics have also said that the press conference was held on the same day as the changes to industrial relations laws were introduced to Parliament.

Since Mohamed Haneef spent 12 days in jail without charges (he was suspected to have supported the perpetrators of the foiled terror attacks in London and Glasgow in July 2007), the anti-terrorism bill and its impact for the separation of powers in a democracy became more publicly discussed. When a judge found insufficient evidence for the charges against Haneef, Minister of Immigration Kevin Andrews withdrew his working visa. While the Howard government unequivocally backed Kevin Andrew's decision, members of the judicial community in Australia raised their concern about the interference of the government in judicial proceedings. [Cite news| last = Wright| first = Tony| coauthors = Amrit Dhillon | title = The day a judge overruled a minister| publisher="The Age" | accessdate = 2007-08-24 | date = 22 August 2007| url = http://www.theage.com.au/news/national/judge-overrules-andrews-on-haneef/2007/08/21/1187462266512.html ]

Mandatory detention policy

Throughout the first half of 2005, the Howard government faced pressure regarding the controversial mandatory detention program, introduced in 1992 by the Keating Labor government.

It was revealed in February that a mentally ill German citizen and Australian resident, Cornelia Rau, had been held in detention for nine months. The government then established the closed non-judicial Palmer Inquiry promising that the findings would be made public. In May, it was revealed that another Australian, subsequently identified as Vivian Solon, had been deported from Australia and that the department responsible was unable to locate her. By late May, it was revealed that an additional 200 cases of possible wrongful detention had been referred to the Palmer Inquiry.cite news| url=http://abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200505/s1376464.htm | title=Detention probe handed 200 cases | publisher=ABC News | date=2005-05-25 | accessdate=2006-07-08] Also at this time Howard faced backbench revolt from small numbers of his own party demanding that reforms be made.cite news| url=http://www.smh.com.au/news/National/Howard-explodes-at-MPs-revolt/2005/05/24/1116700714825.html | title=Howard explodes at MPs' revolt | publisher="The Sydney Morning Herald" | author=Louise Dodson | date=2005-05-25 | accessdate=2006-07-08] On 9 June Australia's longest serving detainee, Peter Qasim, was moved to a psychiatric hospital.cite news| url=http://www.abc.net.au/pm/content/2005/s1388761.htm | title=Longest-serving detainee moved to psychiatric hospital | publisher=ABC News and Current Affairs | date=2005-06-09 | accessdate=2006-07-08]

In June 2005, several backbenchers including Petro Georgiou challenged the Howard government's holding of asylum-seeker children in immigration detention centres.cite web | url=http://www.theage.com.au/news/Michelle-Grattan/How-Howard-got-himself-out-of-detention/2005/06/18/1119034101427.html | title=How Howard got himself out of detention | publisher="The Age" |date=2005-06-19 | accessdate=2007-10-24] Over 2000 asylum-seeker children were held in detention centres during previous years. The longest period a child was detained was 5 years. [cite web | url=http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/05/14/1084289883321.html | title=System left children trapped | publisher="The Age" |date=2004-05-15 | accessdate=2007-10-16; cite web | url=http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/05/16/1084646067810.html | title=The politics of suffering children | publisher="The Age" |date=2006-05-17 | accessdate=2007-10-16]

Under the agreement between Howard and the MPs, legislation was introduced to "soften" the detention system enacted in 1992. Detained families with children were moved out of detention centres and placed in "community detention", and people detained over two years received an ombudsman review.cite web | url=http://www.smh.com.au/news/National/Weve-failed-detainees--PM-caves-in/2005/06/17/1118869098856.html | title=We've failed detaineesndash PM caves in | publisher="The Sydney Morning Herald" |date=2005-06-18 | accessdate=2007-10-24] Questioned as to why the government had not acted sooner, Howard was quoted as saying: "We have to confess that was one of the many failings of this Government."

The Rudd Labor government committed itself to retaining Mandatory Detention for all unauthorised arrivals in July 2008 [ [http://www.chrisevans.alp.org.au/news/0708/immispeeches29-01.php New Directions in Detention, Restoring Integrity to Australia's Immigration System: Hon Chris Evans Speech] ] . Some exceptions apply [ [http://www.abc.net.au/news/stories/2008/07/29/2317303.htm Sweeping changes to mandatory detention announced: ABC News 29/7/2008] ] .

Energy

The Prime Minister did not sign the Kyoto Protocol, refusing to consider a ratification that didn't set binding emission reduction targets for developing countries such as China and India.cite news |title=Australia ratifies Kyoto global warming treaty |url=http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/22081582/ |publisher=MSNBC |location=United States |date=2007-12-03 |accessdate=2008-05-06 ">] New world trade was by then dominated by Asia, yet the Sino-American relationship was not demonstrative of commercialising Australia's geothermal, geosequestration, solar and energy efficiency technologies.

This position was established at the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in September 2007, which had "nothing to do with trade deals announced [in the previous two] weeks" for the Howard Government. Because "many [of its] business communities were ahead of [government] in preparing and instilling corporate change" on climate issues, Australia could justifiably wait for its overture to the Chinese to "return with greater fervour as trust between [American investers] and the Asian political communities developed" in the future; as it was believed they had to, in order to follow the global energy markets, come to share relatively level business expectations and time horizons. [cite news
last = Frith
first = Damon
coauthors =
title = Unequal partners
publisher = Business Review Weekly
date = 2007-09-13
url =
accessdate =
]

On 6 June 2006, Howard announced a task force to conduct the "Uranium Mining, Processing, and Nuclear Energy Review", the terms of reference of which include "the extent to which nuclear energy will make a contribution to the reduction of global greenhouse gas emissions".cite web | url=http://www.dpmc.gov.au/umpner/index.cfm| title=Uranium Mining, Processing, and Nuclear Energy Review|date=2006-12-12| accessdate=2007-01-21 ] Howard announced on 10 December 2006 the formation of a Prime Ministerial Task Group on Emissions Trading. [cite web | url=http://www.dpmc.gov.au/emissionstrading/index.cfm| title=Prime Ministerial Task Group on Emissions Trading| accessdate=2007-01-21 ; cite web | url=http://www.sourcewatch.org/index.php?title=Prime_Ministerial_Task_Group_on_Emissions_Trading| title=Sourcewatch entry on the Prime Ministerial Task Group on Emissions Trading| accessdate=2007-01-21 ] On 3 February 2007, the Australian government announced that it could not by itself have a significant effect on mitigation of global warming, though it would continue to make efforts to cut greenhouse gases; it would be necessary for Australia to find means of adaptation.cite news| url=http://www.abc.net.au/news/newsitems/200702/s1839522.htm|title=Australia 'must adapt' to global warming | publisher= ABC | date=2007-02-03| accessdate=2007-02-03 ] On 4 June 2007, Howard announced a new Carbon Trading Scheme to be in place in Australia by 2012. Only four months earlier, Howard rejected such a scheme by the states, claiming "knee-jerk reactions that are going to destroy the jobs of coalminers". [cite news|first=Anne |last=Davies |url= http://www.smh.com.au/news/environment/states-sign-on-to-carbon-trading-scheme/2007/02/09/1170524303964.html |title=States sign on to carbon trading scheme |publisher="The Sydney Morning Herald" |date=10 November 2007 |accessdate=2007-09-13]

Northern Territory intervention

In August 2007, the Howard government announced the Northern Territory National Emergency Response. This package of revisions to welfare provisions, law enforcement and other measures was advanced as a plan for addressing child abuse in Aboriginal Northern Territory communities that had been highlighted by the "Little Children are Sacred" report in mid-June.

Howard had been a long-time opponent of indigenous Native Title in Australia. Key components of the intervention included seizure by the Federal Government of local community land leases for a five year period and removal of the permit system that had allowed aboriginal communities to control access to their land.

The plan drew criticism from the report's authors for not incorporating any of the report's numerous recommendations cite news|last = Johnston|first = Tim|title = Far-Reaching Policy for Aborigines Draws Their Fury|publisher= "New York Times"|accessdate = 2007-08-28|date = 2007-08-24 |url = http://www.nytimes.com/2007/08/24/world/asia/24outback.html?ex=1345608000&en=f812218dfd708cf3&ei=5088&partner=rssnyt&emc=rss] , however some aboriginal activists such as Noel Pearson provided qualified support for the intervention, as it provided the first sign of the Howard government taking any significant interest in aboriginal affairs. Commentators noted the approaching November federal election, suggesting that the intervention was an attempt at "wedge politics" and an appeal to middle class non-Aboriginal voters concerned with child abuse and racial issues.

2007 election

In the 24 November election, the Coalition government was defeated, with a 5.44 percent swing against it nationwide. Howard lost his seat in the defeat, as did three of his ministers (Gary Nairn, Mal Brough and Jim Lloyd) as well as 17 other Coalition MPs.

References

External links

* [http://australianpolitics.com/executive/howard/ Australianpolitics.com]


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