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What a Prime Minister should do

By Claire O'Connor - posted Tuesday, 18 December 2001

My idea of what John Howard should do as the Prime Minister is not limited to what I think John Howard should do but what I think a leader of our nation should do.

My vision for democracy is not one that encompasses a straightforward view that politicians and political parties have to follow the majority of the people. After all the majority could be wrong, for example, if you took a Morgan Gallup poll in the weeks leading up to Christopher Columbus sailing away from the Old World to the New World that asked "Do you think that the three boats leaving in two weeks will fall off the edge of the earth or will they discover that the earth is actually round?" guess which answer would have won.

No, I think we elect people who should be the wisest and most informed from our community and we ask that they apply that wisdom and common sense to each decision they make on our behalf. It used to be the case that if you supported Labor you were guaranteed that you were supporting a party that you thought would accept that the Government has responsibility to ensure that those who are poor and ill and disadvantaged would receive govt assistance to correct that. To create a more equal society.


With voting for the Liberal Party you were more or less guaranteed to accept the concept that the market will look after the economy and that if you feed the industrial and manufacturing and farming economies and supported those who made the money there would be a trickle down effect.

And that Goverment should not intervene.

Somewhere along the way this went wrong and I think it first became apparent at the mandatory sentencing debates that were held in state elections where parties tried to outbid themselves in relation to how mean and evil they could be to anyone who committed a property offence. The irony that this debate only went for property offences committed by the lower socio-economic classes and did not include offences of violence or white collar crime was not picked up by anyone.

Since that time Parties have been attempting to derive their policies and views from what they think the masses will want. In the hope of getting into power and they lie. Labor would have reviewed our refugee policy, the Liberals were always going to have a GST, they lie to get into power.

So what do I want John Howard to do?

Well I want him to admit that Australia is a land where all should be welcome, if people are escaping the horror of war and famine and persecution. I want him to say to his fellow country men and women, the world is not flat, you are wrong, and we have to show compassion. I want him to say locking up traumatised children in a desert camp, 700Km north of Adelaide in tin army huts with inadequate heating and no cooling, limited access to toys and games and education and treating their loved ones the same (for those lucky enough to have family with them) is a crime against humanity, and we should all hang our heads in shame for being part of a society that did not help these people.


I want him to release each and every person in those camps except where there is genuine fears for the security of Australia, I want each applicant processed quickly and fairly. I want legal aid reinstated for those applicants, I want a right to review any decision where natural justice was denied in the first hearing, and I want those who are genuine refugees to be able to bring their loved ones to this county.

That is what I want John Howard to do. But, for me, who would never vote for John Howard, the saddest thing is that I wanted more than anything for Kim Beazley to do it too.

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