By all reasonable standards, Australia has had a good government since 1996...That's from the edited version of his remarks to the Sydney Institute last night. Sounds like the live version was even more excruciating:
An arrogant politician would not expose himself to the relentless public scrutiny that John Howard never shirks even after 11 years as prime minister... He has always respected public opinion but has often tried to change it rather than just reflect it. Clear, well-argued convictions run like a golden thread through his public life.
There is no conclusive explanation for the Government's poor run in the opinion polls except, perhaps, that polls send a message to government.
The Health Minister told the Sydney Institute he was confused that the Government risked being deprived "of the usual reward for being good at its job".And I thought Vladimir Putin was "the last true democrat"! Obviously, our enlightened Liberal party leaders are right up there on the podium of self-sacrificing magnanimity with Vlad, Gandhi, and Jesus H. Christ! If only we could find some way to properly express our appreciation! Jeebus!
"There is no conclusive explanation for the Government's poor run in the opinion polls," he said. It was "an extraordinary honour" to serve the people, "yet they are demanding masters".
"They expect their MPs to be celebrities and, at the same time, just like them; to be content with a fraction of the earnings of corporate high-flyers, while working seven days a week in a hyper-responsible job," he said. "Nothing but the best is good enough from Australian politicians and, the better it becomes, the more zealously voters reserve their right to raise their expectations."
Meanwhile, Alexander Downer is refusing to discuss the bizarre case of Dr Matthew Hyndes, our deputy high commissioner to Sri Lanka, who was whisked away from the Australian embassy in Bangkok in 1996, when Howard came to power. Seems Hyndes was doing some very dodgy deals with corrupt Thai officials, landing him with charges under Thai company law. Disgraced business-tycoon-cum-PM Thaksin Shinawatra was Thai Foreign Minister at the time.
The Queensland Liberals still refuse to discuss details of repeated police raids on their offices.
John Howard still cannot explain why Australian soldiers are in Iraq, or when and how they will ever be withdrawn, or even why they went there. His plan for climate change involves making vague "non-core promises" without definite targets...
Are you beginning to get the picture, Tony?