The Howard era is over

And, to quote Kevin07, thanks go to “the great Australian Labor Party” and the “great Australian trade union movement”… It was a euphoric night at the Bat & Ball. Photos here. All the tears from 1996 have been wiped away. It’s a victory for all those who kept the faith through such a long, long barren time.

Oh, and just quietly… QUEENSLANDER! We came through tonight, didn’t we?

NB: Just while we’re doing the parochial thing, I briefly note that another Queenslander, the Lord Mayor of Brisbane, Cr Campbell Newman, is now the senior Liberal in office anywhere in the land. Though he’s up for election again in March…

Posted in federal election '07
66 comments on “The Howard era is over
  1. Kwakpwns says:

    Yes it definitely seems like voters have pooh pooh’d Howard’s policies. In fact, I can now actually smell the winds of change wafting across the Brisbane’s night sky.

    Us Queenslanders have done our part, now we just have to wait and see if the New South Welshmen (and women) can come through in Bennelong…

  2. Gene says:


  3. LuckyPhil says:

    Hero/ine of the day is undoubtedly MAXINE, what place will Kevvie find for her????

  4. trip_wonders says:

    Congratulations, Australia. Thanks for showing the door to a truly repugnant politician.

  5. woulfe says:

    I dunno, I reckon it’s turned out to be one of those watershed events in our lives. In future we’ll remember where we were on election night 2007, like we remember where we watched the moon landing in 1969.

    I was at a party in Marrickville, the safest of safe Labor territories. There were about eighty people there, and if there were any Howard supporters present, they were staying very quiet.

    For me, it was a night of surprises. First, the crowds – both the crowd I was in, and the hugely partisan crowd at the National Tally Room in Canberra. Frankly I was shocked that at times that the Tally Room crowd was able to take over the proceedings, and completely distract the presenters from their job. After the doubts raised by the last-minute polls, this was the first proof that there was indeed a mood for sweeping change abroad.

    The party crowd was also interesting. About half of us spent the night glued to the ABC coverage, with the other half milling around eating and drinking, and coming back to the coverage when things got interesting. It was really striking that every time Julia Gillard started talking, this Labor crowd turned away and the volume increased dramatically. It wasn’t negative, just chatter. I don’t know what this means – possibly that she’s a boring policy wonk.

    Rudd’s speech: he started by acknowledging Howard in very gracious terms. It was a statesmanlike beginning, a generous touch in victory. Then he started delivering another campaign speech: he even put in a couple of references to working Australians, fer chrissakes. However the bit that utterly floored me was his tribute to Bernie Banton. By singling out this example of how unionism defends the fair go in Australia, Rudd gave his biggest hat tip to Howard, specifically to his assertion that when you change government, things change.

    Rudd’s tribute to Banton is a message that the union values won’t be lost in his government – they’re fundamental to his mission to balance flexibility with a fair go.

    This was the only part of the evening that had our Marrickville crowd in complete silence. This was the moment when we all realised what had happened in our country. At this moment I decided that maybe there’s more than just political ambition to the formal, unlikeable Kevin Rudd.

    For this cynical old fart the biggest surprise of the evening was the hope in Rudd’s acceptance speech that human values – fairness, compassion and justice – are going to be just as important in his government as getting things done.

    It’s a lovely morning in Sydney.

  6. Beppie says:

    It was really striking that every time Julia Gillard started talking, this Labor crowd turned away and the volume increased dramatically. It wasn’t negative, just chatter. I don’t know what this means – possibly that she’s a boring policy wonk.

    There were also times, though, when they would start chanting her name. I think Gillard acquitted herself very well on ABC last night (as at least one of my drunken comments in the previous thread attests to), and I really cannot wait until she is our first female PM (after Rudd’s had a couple of terms, and stepped down graciously, to emphasise the contrast between himself and Howard). 😀

  7. Debbie(aussie) says:

    It was a great night. And so begins the hard work. I didn’t realise how worried I was until the relief I felt when I knew we had won.

  8. Mercurius says:

    Yay, huzzah, my cup runneth over and all that.

    Sorry, just a quick diversion into “culcha”, and a rant about the death of oratory:

    I hope Rudd’s first action in government is to fire his speechwriter. And if that speech was Rudd’s own, he should never write another one.

    It was possibly the worst piece of oratory I have seen for some time. I cannot think of a speech in recent times that has fallen so far short of what it needed to be. The words didn’t carry the weight of the moment.

    The best part of the speech was when Rudd went beyond the cliche of “I will be a Prime Minister for all Australians…” to say exactly what he meant: “A Prime Minister for indigenous Australians. Australians who have been born here and Australians who have come here from afar and have contributed to the great diversity in Australia…” &c. for city/country etc…

    The part about moving beyond those “old battles” was also a highlight.

    However, for the most part, the speech plodded along under the weight of clumsy phraseology, poor construction and oddly juxtaposed expressions. The redundant “..of ours” on the end of every second sentence. The redundant repetition of “This nation, Australia…” as though we needed to be reminded in what country we live. The constant use of flabby, arrythmic, present perfect tense (“have voted”) instead of the concise, punchy, past simple (“voted”) just sucked the life out of every sentence. It doubled the word count yets added nothing to the phrase.

    This is not nit-picking, it’s about the precision of thought and purpose that’s required for words to carry the weight of great moment. It’s as though Caesar returned from Gaul and said “I have come. I have seen. I have conquered.”

    There was also something in there about ’embracing’ and ‘carving out’ simultaneously, which sounds like a very uncomfortable activity.

    I’ll forgive one “out the back door”, since it seems to be his verbal signature.

    And the whole business about promising to govern “in the national interest”. Well, duhhh. It reminds me of Colbert’s election speech where he promises to “make things better, not worse” 😀

    It’s obvious the speech was written to be read, and might have looked good on paper. But speeches need to breathe, and this one wheezed.

    There must be some unemployed speechwriters hanging around from the Keating days. Call ’em up Kev!!

  9. Paul Burns says:

    We have our country back. The Real Australia has returned. I can’t believe it. He Who Shall Never Be Named Again is gone. And yes, there is hope again, with Rudd.
    Has anybody else noticed that once in the blue moon he sounds a little bit like Whitlam?
    This doesn’t mean in the future I’m not going to be a constructive Socialist critic. But not today – or, at least this morning. This morning I’m just savouring the beauty and the wonder.

  10. Katz says:

    I note ruefully that the Rudd ascendency has done nothing to mitigate the effects of the intake of alcohol.

    Australian vintners are starting to come to terms with pinot noir.

    Should I thank Howard for that?

    My head hurts.

  11. Mercurius says:

    …and one more thing. He can keep one “out the back door” per speech if he must. But he’s got to get rid of “…and you know something?”.

    I do know something Kev. How to write a decent speech, for one. 😛

  12. bilb says:

    I would like to be able to say John Hoo…? But I know from experience that those who have suffered at the hands of manipulative people are in therapy for many years forward. Let the healing begin.

    I’m personally looking forward to the delusional denialism within the newly downtrodden. Wait for the line “our policies were correct, we were defeated by a mood for change”!!!

  13. jinmaro says:

    Proud of and excited for Maxine this morning. Why can’t she be PM?

    Ex-All Hallows’ students’ and teachers salute you o glorious one.

  14. tigtog says:

    Australian vintners are starting to come to terms with pinot noir.

    mr tog and I said the exact same thing last night, Katz!

    It was indeed a good night at the Bat and Ball, although I missed a couple of folks who were there early because I came late, just in time for Howard’s concession speech (oh my sweet FSM, how it did go on). Great mood!

  15. Thank you Australians for getting rid of that neocon scum bag. Now we just have to get rid of his clone here in Canada, the Harpocrit, who now stands as Bushes Number One arse-licker.

  16. bilb says:

    Give it some time, and the arse will go away, leaving your guy with his tongue exposed.

  17. j_p_z says:

    Let me repeat on this thread my congratulations to all the Labor supporters, on this site and elsewhere, for their victory. Here’s hoping that Mr. Rudd and his government will advance the well-being of all Australia.

    (I have two or three persnickety, nit-picky remarks about stuff that’s been said on this thread, but I’ll wait for a different comment entry to deal with ’em later, so as not to spoil the victory cheer. Enjoy your win!)

    Naz’darowie! (Did I spell that right? Graham Bell seems to know the correct spelling… well, take the thought for the deed, and so forth…) 🙂 😎 😀

  18. Col says:

    The dark days are over.
    Let the Rudd shine in!

  19. tigtog says:

    Looking at the predicted Senate tallies, we’re all going to get to know Nick Xenophon pretty fast come June next year – for any bill to pass, both he and Fielding will have to be persuaded to stand with Labor along with the Greens, and Xenophon and Fielding appear to be natural adversaries as soon as you move away from gambling problems and water supply, so there should be some interesting clashes on the red benches.

  20. Sir Henry Casingbroke says:

    When all the partying dies down, there is one salient aspect of this election that is incontrovertible, irrespective of the spin from both sides: WorkChoices finally concentrated the Howard’s Battlers to go beyond the cosmetic attractions (to them) of Howard and vote according to their class interests. This is crystal-clear evident: from the itinerant miners of N Qld Leichhardt to mortgage belt long-distance commuting wage slaves of outer metros.

    Johnny could not help himself. That ugly ideological devil within him – or it may have been $weetie on his shoulder, whispering HR Nichols sweet nothings – caused him to overreach on behalf of the bosses. Where was the famed political instinct? Nowhere! It’s a bloody myth concocted by stupid hacks like Paul Kelly of The Opposition Gazette. Dog whistling to racism and xenophobia was the only shot in Howard’s locker but Labor had a cunning plan for that this time around.

    So, here it is, be careful what you wish for – WorkChoices was made possible by the accidental control of the senate. The Howardistas couldn’t help themselves. Like a drunk accidentally locked up in a bottle-o overnight, it was ideological overindulgence killing the Liberal government and may yet kill the Liberal party as we know it with long-term internal injuries.

    My brain hurts – I don’t know how you guys do it. For someone with a hangover you are up remarkably earlym Mark, Katz! It is 11am. My white shirt from last night has some weird stains on it. It must have been the human sacrifice rites I was attending last night. Nice to see you Mark.

  21. wasjotoo says:

    So Tigtog are you suggesting ACT did not come up with Green Senator?

  22. mbahnisch says:

    Nice to see you too, Sir Henry! Sorry I didn’t make it along to your shindig. I also had some hopes of going to Tanya Plibersek’s celebration later on, but I was all partied out!

  23. Helen says:

    Oooooooh, my head…

  24. Ralph says:

    There were no Liberal how-to-vote cards being handed out at the booth where I voted in Tasmania’s Denison, [won by Duncan Kerr], just Labor and Green cards. But at another Denison booth, a couple of friends – 19-year-old women making their first-ever votes – found themselves hassled by two or three people attempting to press Liberal Party HTV cards on them. Initially, the Liberal cards were politely refused – but after the third or fourth occasion, the pair gave in … accepted the Liberal cards, screwed them up, dropped them on the footpath and headed off to vote. Such confidence.

  25. Paul Burns says:

    Liberal Party entrail reading has already begun.’Twould appear they’re going to be very, very broke. Media has not yet broken itself from that filthy habit of filming He Who Shall Never be Named Again’s daily walk atound the harbour foreshores.
    Kev, when are you going to kick the little pr**k out of Kirribilli House? Do we have to wait for the change from PM designate to real PM?
    Have heard tell the condition of the front and backyard gardens at his non-luxurious Wollstonecraft dwelling (Since when was that in Bennelong?) is so bad there have been complaints to the local Council. Or is that out of date?

  26. wasjotoo says:

    Can someone make sure that the ‘billi booze cellar is now plugged.

  27. Paul Burns says:

    Definitely not. Kev should unlock the cellar and use all the booze (except for those few bottles He Who Shall Never be Named Again and Mrs.HWSNBNA knocked off to take back to Wollstonecraft) for a massive street party outside of Kirribilli House.Government for the people and all that. Would make a wonderful demonstration of Australian democracy with a tinge of the Socialist ethic – Government booze belongs to the people so they should drink it etc.

  28. mbahnisch says:

    I’m kinda wishing that someone last night knew where Keating lived. We were going to hop in a cab and go round and say gidday and bring him a bottle of red!

  29. wasjotoo says:

    Paul, i would be hoping that the ‘billi became a homeless refuge.
    Once the present tenants are ejected.

  30. pre-dawn leftist says:

    Its almost too good to be true…

    The unflushable turd – FLUSHED!!

    At last!

  31. David Rubie says:

    A couple of notes of melancholy:

    I wanted Howard to lose and lose badly (and he did) but losing his seat, despite the gung-ho attitude I had towards it in the weeks leading up to the election was a hollow victory.

    McKew surely would have been better to run in Wentworth, and somebody should have thought twice about the delightful, but clueless, Nicole Cornes.

    There’s an element of ruthlessness to the whole thing – despite Kevin07’s cheery demeanour, it appears that he doesn’t mind you watching him slip a horseshoe into his boxing glove before the bout. I’m not sure how I feel about that any more.

    I am very, very glad that Julia Gillard is deputy PM. Surely, when difficult decisions come floating over the horizon now we’ll have some sensible policy. Off to mow the lawn now – I really enjoyed the running commentary on the night though, so thanks to everyone who had a go at watching the telly and blogging. I found it very hard to tear myself away until after around 9:00pm or so.

  32. Paul Burns says:

    Why is it, with the warm inner glow I feel at the moment, that it wouldn’t surprise that the ALP might take that suggestion seriously if some-one actually made it to them.

  33. Shaun says:

    It was a joy to read the start of Piers Ackerman decline into irrelevancy this morning.

  34. tyro rex says:

    Mark @ 29 .. sorry to tell you this now … but I know where Citizen Keating lives. Here’s hoping he’s the first President of an Australian Republic.

    Also you are yet to express surprise that the ALP didn’t pick up Ryan. 😉

  35. Su says:

    Larry Costello the basketball player 🙂

  36. Paul Burns says:

    However hard Rudd may be, its nothing like the horseshoe in the boxing glove we’ve been getting from Howard since 1996.
    As was pointed out on Insiders this morning the Welfare to Work reforms are an unacknoiwledged factor in the Labor victory. Some of the seats where there were the biggest swings against the Coalition had the highest population of single mothers forcefully separated from their children by Welfare to Work.
    And it does not surprise me that perhaps a very large number of voters took note of JWH’s pledge in his campaign launch to destroy the welfare state, and thought to themselves, “Well, no, we’re not going to let you do that.”

  37. Katz says:

    As Mike Williamson said, “I tipped this!”

  38. Shaun says:

    More on the Story. Costello will stay as member for Higgins but no contest the leadership.

  39. Su says:

    Oh you weren’t joking! Hell.

  40. Katz says:

    It’s no joke.

    Outgoing treasurer Peter Costello says he will step back from politics following the election loss and will not stand for the leadership or deputy leadership of the Liberal Party.

    Mr Costello said he had decided not to stand for the position of opposition leader, but would continue to serve as the member for the Melbourne seat of Higgins.

    “I’ve discussed this with my family and my wife Tanya, who is here with me today, and we have decided that in fact the time has come for me to open a new chapter in my life,” Mr Costello told reporters in Melbourne.

    “I will be looking to build a career post-politics in the commercial world.

    “As a consequence of that, I will not seek nor will I accept the leadership or deputy leadership of the Liberal Party.

    “I want to spend more time with my family and do something for them.”

  41. zoot says:

    As the Thane of Glamis and Lady Macbeth walk off into the sunset, we hear the sound of Ray Charles singing “Hit The Road Jack”.
    Fade to black.

  42. tigtog says:

    Wasjoto @ #22:

    So Tigtog are you suggesting ACT did not come up with Green Senator?

    That’s how the ABC is calling it. Both Libs and Labs got a quota in ACT.

  43. Paul Burns says:

    Well, well, well. Does Costello not standing down mean an orderly transition to Turnbull, or a catfight between Turnbull, Abbott, and Nelson and the devil knows who else.Somehow I don’t think these guys are going to keep it together very well for the next six years.

  44. wasjotoo says:

    Without knowing a thing i reckon that the senate will get better for greens, in time. Think 2 weeks for a start.

    And thanks Tigtog for that.

  45. Costello era cancelled due to lack of interest. Hehe!

  46. wasjotoo says:

    Gummo, he is not that mad he would go for that position, at this stage.

    A Mac job stirring bank burgers for a while?

  47. jo says:

    Costello gone, though he reckons he’ll stick around for 3 years…B.S…..Downer and Ruddock will jump too. who else?

    hhm, so Brownwyn Bishop will be the Shadow Foreign Affairs or Shadow Treasurer? : ) Does it get any better than this?

    Like you Sir Henry – it was Workchoices, Workchoices, Workchoices. I wore a Greg Combet button all night, to remember that this was his and the ACTU’s victory, as much as Rudd’s. Rudd steered the ship through it’s most difficult passage to home, but it was Combet & Co. who built it more than 3 years ago.

    And surely Don Watson could help sift through the job applications for speechwriters for Kevvie….

  48. Su says:

    Could Costello be regrouping for a later leadership challenge, I wonder?

  49. wasjotoo says:

    For me, “speechwriters” for a PM should be illegal under the constitution.

  50. Terry says:

    Well, well, well. You can start to put some things together here to indicate how fragile the whole Coalition house of cards actually was.

    1. Downer saying on Insiders that he had known all year that they were gone, but that he was, like Hyacinth Bucket, keeping up appearances. And if he knew that, so would the key tactical players like Robb, Minchin, Loughnane etc. So why the year long campaign and ruining the football finals woith all of those terrible Work Choices ads?

    2. Downer assuring everyone on Insiders this morning that Costello would be the new Opposition Leader. Is it plausible that Downer went on TV this morning not knowing about Costello’s conversation with Howard?

    3. This can’t have been the first time this crossed Costello’s mind. Is ‘more time with the family’ code for less time heading what will be a rancorous shadow cabinet room as the real lessons of November 24 sink in, and the resources dry up for the 2010 and 2013 campaigns?

    If the Liberals were serious about generational change, they should note something about how their range of spokespeople compare to those of Labor. On the Labor side, we saw Julia Gillard, Tanya Plibersek and Penny Wong, whereas on the Liberal side there was no-one other than 40-50 something Anglo men.

    The Lindsay leaflet fiasco was not simply a campaigning disaster. It really ‘let the cat out of the bag’ (to use a favourite phrase of the campaign, along with ‘I’m sticking my neck out’ and ‘Let me tell you something’) on the dominant culture there. The voting patterns of the more ethnically diverse electorates seem to bear out the implications of this, as George Megalogenis has been ponting out to anyone willing to listen.

  51. wasjotoo says:

    George Megalogenis is about the only journalist who has come out of this media fiasco with some cred.

  52. Megan says:

    “I’ve given every waking hour to government and to the people of Australia over … 11-and-a-half years and – the rotten bastards have kicked us out!”

    sobs Costello. Well his decision to stand down as leader is hardly surprising and his long, agonised, protracted, tortuous speech last night was absolutely woeful. It was as if he couldn’t believe they’d lost and if he only went on talking, it would all go away. It was one of the most hysterical performances of the night.

    I always knew he was a wus and he proved it big time when he kept moaning about not getting the leadership and then not doing anything about it. “I never had the numbers!” he protests, but Keating didn’t have the numbers back in 1992, or the electoral popularity and he still challenged. It was up to Costello to prove he had a feasible set of proposals instead of just expecting to be handed the leadership eventually like it was some kind of crown. People expect in a democracy for leaders to fight for the leadership and when Costello didn’t fight, he lost the people’s respect. People actually liked Costello back in 2004, but he threw all that regard away when time and again he failed to take over as chance after urgent need presented itself. Well thank goodness for that, Costello’s gone and my bet is that it will probably be Turnbull.

    Meanwhile Kevin Rudd really should get himself a speechwriter, his speeches are awfully boring – but hopefully he will deliver….

  53. Terry says:

    BTW, was I the only one who thought that Jeff Kennett’s moustache (on Seven) made him look like Adolf Hitler?

  54. LuckyPhil says:

    “George Megalogenis is about the only journalist who has come out of this media fiasco with some cred.”
    also Peter Martin

  55. Carl says:

    Its dissapointing about Kerrie Tucker in the ACT, it would have made governing a lot easier.

    What was more dissapointing for me was Canberra in general last night, I thought Kingston would be going mental but it seemed most people just were not interested. I think I was just in the wrong spot, either way my head hurts.

  56. wasjotoo says:

    Anyway, if comes down to negotiating in July we have a PM with diplomatic skills. Still reckon the senate is never wise to call the day after.

  57. jinmaro says:

    ALP to Greens sectarianism seemed to have broken down a lot by polling day if chummy interaction between the two on polling booths and at Greens and ALP election night parties are any indication.

    Rudd’s victory speech was mostly dreadful and a downer, and his haste to reassure the US of the sturdiness of the Alliance was sickening.

    Costello’s speech was the first time I’ve ever seen him smile without smirking. He looked relieved. But his words reeked of insincerity. I reckon he’d already promised himself the reprieve of walking away.

    I hope someone writes up a blow-by-blow story of Maxine’s electoral campaign. The Monthly gave a bit of a feel for it an issue or two back. Smart cookie, our Max, the real deal.

  58. David Rubie says:

    Paul Burns wrote:

    However hard Rudd may be, its nothing like the horseshoe in the boxing glove we’ve been getting from Howard since 1996.

    Yes Paul, I should be thinking of that. Can’t help myself but it might be the hangover talking.

  59. Paul Burns says:

    S’all right, David.
    After all it has been not only one of those days, but one of those years that political historians will cogitate over for eons.
    Tutorial Topic 1.:The Howard Era
    Tutorial Topic 2. :The Coming of The Labor Hegemony.
    Tutorial Topic 3.:The Labor Hegemony.

    See, as always, Labor beat the Libs in the History Stakes. Poor old He Who Shall Never Be Named Again gets only one tute topic wqhile the ALP gets two.

  60. […] important point, made by Mark and others, is that we now have a government that is much more in tune with modern Australia than the previous […]

  61. Enemy Combatant says:

    “There must be some unemployed speechwriters hanging around from the Keating days. Call ‘em up Kev!!”

    Mercurius, it was a pretty ordinary speech and haltingly delivered by a man who was totally knackered after gruelling campaign. Wonder what Don Watson’s doing these days? He’e a wordsmith and a wit in one. Tin-Tin would be well advised to made him an offer in terms of his speechwriting talents. Going forward.

  62. Greens need to grow up says:

    The Greens must be wondering why they underperformed.

    Their brand gives the Greens fantastic front running on climate. I hear people saying wanted to vote Green but couldn’t because of they couldn’t bring themselves to endorse certain Greens policies that had nothing to do with climate.

    Shame for everybody. I sincerely hope for everyone the Greens mature ASAP into a grown up party soon. Especially if they will be expected to sensibly manage the balance of power at some point.

    They need to understand that some of the more extreme side issues they champion are electoral ballast. Differentiating themselves on heaps of issues isn’t clever. They need to be really disciplined about what is most important, differentiate on that, and move to the centre on everything else. Then they will get more senate seats. Otherwise they will remain on the edge of relevance, until someone more moderate picks up the climate change issue and makes it their own and then Greens will disappear like the Democrats.

    Maybe the result is the catalyst for the Greens to have a deep think about things, jettison some of their side issue policies and become a party ordinary thinking folk will vote for without being scared. If that happens then we can finally get some proper action on climate, instead of labor’s underdone plan.

  63. silkworm says:

    I am sure Ruddiger will be relaxed as he withdraws our troops from Iraq.

  64. Futt Bucker says:

    We’re free! I never knew it would feel even this good to see the back of Howard. Losing his seat is just rewards for the now disgraced ex-PM.

    Costello did the right thing. He knifed the Liberal Party at their time of need after so many years of being knifed by those fellow gutless pricks. Only Abbott being elected Opposition Leader would now be the ultimate icing for that morally bankrupt party.

    Hopefully now in the future I think we might start seeing a bit more of one PJK. He’ll be itching to sink the slipper into the “Howard Years” and will be the only thing left to keep Rudd honest! 😉

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