December 7, 2009
New book launched tonight… “The Howard Era”
A collection of essays analysing the Howard Government was launched at a Quadrant dinner tonight [December 4].
This was my first Quadrant dinner.
Edited by Keith Windshuttle, David Martin Jones and Ray Evans, the book is substantial. The 21 authors include John Stone, Tony Abbott, and David Flint. John Stone launched the book with a strident and heartily approved summary of conservative Liberal thought and very favourably compared the Howard and Menzies Governments.
Not completely a mutual admiration society, Mr Howard deftly handled some criticisms and answered many specific questions, such as how he would have handled the global financial crisis. And as expected, he graciously underscored the importance of his quality cabinet team.
His final summary however was not the usual polite script. To paraphrase, he said he came to Government determined to see an end to the self loathing and navel-gazing about national identity that had been fostered in the Hawke/Keating years. He wished to refocus the nation on our history of achievement. He wished to remind the Australian people that they were not British, European or Asian, but distinctively Australian. To insist that we have every reason to be cheerfully confident but of course, not excessively proud or triumphalist. To re-emphasize rigor and objectivity in education. To declare that as a conservative he did not feel morally superior to his grandfather. To pursue sensible solutions and stand upon central values of decency, honesty and civility.
It was said, and I agree, that with the passing of time under Labor, the Howard Government just looks better and better.
Another excellent speaker was Tom Switzer, who wrote a chapter in the book, entitled “John Howard and the media”. Soon to start as editor of The Spectator Australia, he was the embodiment of indestructible conservative self confidence.
My first Quadrant dinner was….
Reprinted from Gregory Solomons Blog
The Quadrant Book of Poetry: 2001 - 2010
edited by Les Murray