Well, I have been banging on about Howard and his cronies for many years now and its all a bit surreal that he isn't there to whinge about! I think though that the election result is a great victory for the people who think that there is more to the world and our country than a budgetary surplus. Yes, Howard did do a good job of managing the economy in the sense that we had heaps of coins in the coffers, but ultimately he and his party lacked some missing quality of humanity that you cant quite put your finger on, but you knew it was there.
Howard used human emotions and frailties to hold power for most of his eleven years, particularly since Sept 11 2001. He had the fear of global terrorism behind him when he concocted up the "Children Overboard Affair" and he took Australia from a well respected peaceful country to one of association with a maniacal idiot in George Bush that led us into a virtually en-extractable position in the Middle East. Our nation is cursed from Muslim nations such as Indonesia and is seen as a blundering Western nation sticking its nose into Asian and Middle East affairs...
I think Howard's term in office was best summed up in this article and in particular I quote:
"Mr Howard, who almost certainly has lost his seat of Bennelong, said nothing publicly yesterday. His only duty was a private function for staff at Kirribilli House. As the Liberals drowned their sorrows on Saturday night, one former senior Liberal adviser blamed the result on "the f---ing Chinese", an apparent reference to Asian voters in Bennelong turning against Mr Howard"
The Australian Liberal party lost touch with the people of Australia. We are multi-cultural and in many cases bi-lingual with Asian and Middle Eastern descendants now much more prominent than the post war immigrants from Europe. The Liberal party failed to grasp that and I believe that it was a huge issue for them in what caused them to lose the plot.
The other issue that Howard refused to budge on was the whole concept of Climate Change. The World, be it a natural cycle or be it one that we are exacerbating (my view is its a bit of both) is warming up and the world's patterns of climate are going through a major upheaval. That is a fact. They believe in less than one life time there will be no more ice at the North Pole. The worlds oceans are changing and this effects the worlds wind patterns and that effects the rain fall patterns. You cannot escape this. Yet Howard refused to budge one iota and insisted that doing anything would disrupt the blessed economy.
Again, the economy. It always came back to the dollars in the coffers. Seriously, what is wrong with having a zero surplus? What is wrong with the Federal government spending EVERY dollar they get in taxes. I agree that you shouldnt overspend and have a debt, but whats wrong with using our taxes for the people?
I look forward to the new Labor government. I think it will provide a refreshing change. We will probably see Rudd apologise to the Stolen Generation. I expect to see him and his government interacting at a more polite level with our Asian neighbours and build some good will between us and countries like the Phillipines and Thailand. I expect our relationships with China to become even more important to us than the US as they are really the new economic powerhouse.
I expect us to sign Kyoto and become leaders in the subsequent phases of that process.
All in all, I think this is a change for the good. People will have to realise that from a budgetary perspective things will be tougher, but lets not forget that money isnt everything.