John Howard started the slide
On Australia Day, it’ll do us good to be reminded that the ill deeds and mean-spirited infection sown by John Howard so long ago condemns us all (Mike Seccombe, “It’s all John Howard’s fault”, December 23, 2017–January 26, 2018). Australia jettisoned its reputation as a caring nation when then prime minister Howard’s vilification of asylum seekers proved decisive in winning him the 2001 federal election. The Tampa affair became the callous precedent that to this day allows a paucity of moral principles to guide Australia’s national discourse on protecting outsiders and the vulnerable. The ruthless ambition and backstabbing that plague political power struggles in Australia are now so entrenched as to be considered run of the mill. Leaders and the Opposition offer sweeteners and bribes to voters to gain and stay at the summit. The electorate protests loudly about leaking hip pockets while remaining silent on harmful social policies. Governments are in slavish obeisance to weekly opinion polls that dictate to them what favours and flavours a self-interested electorate demands. In addition to deploring Australia’s leadership, the electorate could own up to its complicity in abetting Australia’s leap into the moral abyss. Australians deserve the leaders we vote in when we expect those in charge to focus on meeting our selfish desires.
– Joseph Ting, Carina, Qld