This is the first public comment our former (Oz) prime minister has made since his very nasty fall from grace since the last election here. His "vision" was resoundingly rejected by Australian voters & the Rudd Labor government was installed as a result.
Interestingly, this speech was made to (what I understand to be) a US right wing think tank. While receiving something called the Irving Kristol Award!
Seems strange to me, to have an Australian PM who appears to feel more at home in the US (& with conservative US politics) than in his own country.
What do you make of his words? And this strange award?:
Howard slams Rudd on IR, Iraq
Updated Thu Mar 6, 2008 7:41pm AEDT
John Howard: 'Scrapping WorkChoices is a reversal of major economic reform'. (Reuters)
Former prime minister John Howard has hit out at several of the Rudd Government's policies while giving a major speech in the United States.
Mr Howard has given an address at a gala dinner for the American Enterprise Institute in Washington, where he received the Irving Kristol Award.
He has told the audience that scrapping the WorkChoices laws is the first time in 25 years that a major economic reform has been reversed.
"That will be a mistake," he said.
"In particular, bringing back the old unfair dismissal laws will stifle employment growth amongst small businesses."
And he has described his disappointment at the moves to bring Australian troops home from Iraq.
"No one should doubt what is at stake in Iraq," he said.
"There is a view in some quarters that Afghanistan is the good war and Iraq somehow a distraction from winning the war on terror.
"While it may be politically convenient this view is profoundly naive and dangerous."
He says that the surge of US troops into Iraq is having a positive effect, and he is critical of media coverage of Iraq.
"Much to the surprise of many experts - and to the chagrin of many who are critical of America and of the Bush Administration in particular - the surge strategy in Iraq is beginning to bear fruit," he said.
"Security has improved, casualties are down, there are signs of a return to more normal life in Baghdad and the Iraqi political system has finally made a start in addressing some of the nation's fundamental challenges.
"But perhaps the most convincing sign of all that some progress has been made is the significant decline in media coverage of Iraq - noticeable both in the United States and Australia.
"The dominant left-liberal elements in the media in both our countries apparently cannot bring themselves to acknowledge good news stories coming out of Baghdad."
He notes the Rudd Government's decision to continue some of the policies of his own government, but is sceptical of the depth of Labor's commitment to such ideas.
"On a smaller scale, in my own country, a number of the more conservative social policies of my government have been endorsed by the new Australian government," he said.
"The sincerity of its conversion will be tested by experience of office."
In the speech, entitled 'Sharing our common values', Mr Howard also says one of the major challenges for today's conservatives is remining focused on the fight against "Islamic fascism".
"It relies on indiscriminate terror without regard to the identity or faith of its victims," he said.
"It also calculates that it is the nature of western societies to grow weary of long struggles and protracted debates. They produce, over time, a growing pressure for resolution or accommodation.
"The particular challenge posed by extremist Islam means therefore that more than ever before continued cultural self-belief is critical to national strength.
He says former US president Ronald Reagan and "that other great warrior in our cause, [former British prime minister] Margaret Thatcher" taught conservatives many things.
"In the protracted struggle against Islamic extremism there will be no stronger weapon than the maintenance by western liberal democracies of a steadfast belief in the continuing worth of our own national value systems. And where necessary a soaring optimism about the future of freedom and democracy," he said.
"We should not think that by trading away some of the values which have made us who we are will buy us either immunity from terrorists or respect from noisy minorities.
"If the butter of common national values is spread too thinly it will disappear altogether."