John Howard

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John Winston Howard
JohnHoward AU.jpg
Date of birth 26 July 1939
Age 84
Wife Janette Howard
Party Liberal Party of Australia
Prime Minister
From 11 March 1996
To 2 December 2007
Succeeded Paul Keating
Preceded Kevin Rudd
Liberal Party leader
From 1995
To 2007
Succeeded Alexander Downer
Preceded Brendan Nelson

John Winston Howard was the Prime Minister of Australia, and leader of the Liberal Party of Australia, from March 1996 to December 2007, making him the second-longest-serving Prime Minister of Australia.

He became Prime Minister when the Liberal Party won a majority in the House of Representatives at the general election in 1996 (in coalition with the smaller National Party), succeeding Paul Keating.

John Howard married Janette Parker in 1971, and they have a daughter and two sons.

Political life

Howard had been a parliamentarian for 22 years before becoming the Prime Minister, and for 21 of those years he was on the front bench, including roles as Treasurer and Opposition Leader.

During his term as Prime Minister, he began privatisation of the national communications provider, Telstra, introduced a 10% Goods and services tax to replace various other taxes, and brought in new industrial relations laws that alter some protections for employees, particularly those in small businesses. He also tightened controls on firearms, with widespread public support. Although opposed to the idea, he also introduced a referendum on Australia becoming a republic, which was defeated.

Howard was very supportive of the war in Iraq, and the Australian government under his leadership was a steadfast supporter of the coalition of the willing, although this also brought much opposition against him from the public and from the Australian media.

Political controversies

David Hicks

The prosecution of terrorist David Hicks at Guantanamo Bay was a political issue for Howard.

Water rights

Other controversies in mid-2007 centred around on issues as the Federal Government's desire to take control of what was originally state rights to decide upon water usage in the Murray-Darling River System, the taking over of direct funding of a state hospital in Tasmania, and stepping in to alleviate problems in some aboriginal communities.

Dr. Haneef

The arrest and eventual charging of Dr Haneef on suspicion of consorting with terrorists led to the eventual dropping of charges, allowing Dr Haneef to return to his native India. Questions remained regarding the government's handling of the case, and it was reported in September 2007 that applications from overseas doctors seeking to work in Australia fell 80% in the months since the incident.[1]

2007 APEC Security

John Howard hosted the 2007 APEC meeting in Sydney. The security measures that were taken were criticised domestically, and included a 3-mile security fence in Sydney's Central Business District, and a call for Sydneysiders to leave the city over the APEC weekend.

2007 Interest rate rises

The decision by the Reserve Bank of Australia to raise interest rates several times during 2007 also caused problems for Howard, who was under fire for advertisements in which he featured in the 2004 election campaign, where it was claimed that his government would keep interest rates at "record lows". He later attempted to disown the advertisements.

The popularity of Howard was at an all-time low after Kevin Rudd became the opposition leader. The gap in the polls lessened slightly during the second half of 2007, although the ALP enjoyed a winning lead right up to the November 2007 election.


Howard's age (68 years) during the lead-up to the November 2007 election was said by the Labor Party to be an issue, which in retrospect appears youthful compared to US Republican nominee John McCain who was 72 at the US' 2008 Presidential Election.

Gun control

In 1997, following a gun massacre the previous year, Howard introduced strict gun control laws and a buy-back scheme where gun owners could sell their firearms back to the government. This was at the expense of taxpayers and thousands of weapons were destroyed, and the tyranny simply made the people more dependent on government without reducing overall crime rates.

Political demise

Howard tried to win a fifth term in office at the federal election held on November 24, 2007. He had pledged to resign late into his next term if he was re-elected, and hand over office to his government's Treasurer Peter Costello. In practice, the choice of successor would be made by a vote of all the Liberal Party's Members of Parliament (MP).

As well as losing the election to the ALP, Howard also lost in his own parliamentary electorate in a very close result against former ABC journalist, Maxine McKew, who stood against him for the ALP. This made him only the second Prime Minister in Australia's history (after Stanley Bruce) to lose his seat.

Post-election statements

Howard kept quiet after the election loss, until he appeared on 5 March 2008 (reported 6 March in Australia[2]) to receive the Irving Kristol Award from the conservative American Enterprise Institute at a large black-tie dinner at the Hilton Hotel in Washington DC. Howard's two criticisms of the Rudd government were, "I am disappointed that Australia's battle group will be withdrawing from Southern Iraq in June as one of the new Labor government's election commitments... ", and, in criticising the Rudd roll back his Government's industrial relations reforms, said, "... bringing back the old unfair dismissal laws will stifle employment growth amongst small businesses." The black tie event was attended by many US heavyweights, including former UN ambassador John Bolton, former World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz, and Lynne Cheney, the wife of Vice-President Dick Cheney who withdrew at late notice.

Post-political career

In 2010 Howard was rejected for the position of president of the International Cricket Council. In 2013 there were also suggestions that he may become the next Governor General of Australia.

Presidential Medal of Freedom

President George Bush awarding the Medal of Freedom to John Howard

On January 13, 2009, Howard received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in a White House ceremony from United States President George W. Bush. The medal is America's highest civil award. It is given in recognition of exemplary achievement, and to convey the utmost esteem of the people and the President of the United States of America. The citation read:

During a career of public service spanning four decades, John Howard has been an unwavering champion of democracy and freedom. As Prime Minister of Australia, he helped deliver unparalleled prosperity to his country's people through staunch adherence to free market principles. Relations between our two countries were never closer than under his stewardship, and after the attacks of September 11, 2001, he worked steadfastly to combat the scourge of terrorism, bring freedom to millions of people, and promote democracy, human rights, and the rule of law. The United States honors John Winston Howard for his lifelong efforts to spread hope and freedom throughout the world.



  2. Howard breaks silence in US, The Australian, 6 March 2008
Australian Prime Ministers
Edmund Barton (1901)

Alfred Deakin (1903, 1905, and 1909)
John Watson (1904)
George Reid (1904)
Andrew Fisher (1908, 1910, and 1914)
Joseph Cook (1913)
William Hughes (1915)

Stanley Bruce (1923)

James Scullin (1929)
Joseph Lyons (1932)
Earle Page (1939)
Robert Menzies (1939 and 1949)
Arthur Fadden (1941)
John Curtin (1941)

Francis Forde (1945)

Joseph Chifley (1945)
Harold Holt (1966)
John McEwen (1967)
John Gorton (1968)
William McMahon (1971)
Gough Whitlam (1972)

Malcolm Fraser (1975)

Robert Hawke (1983)
Paul Keating (1991)
John Howard (1996)
Kevin Rudd (2007)