I would like to begin by acknowledging that we meet on the traditional lands of the Ngunnawal people, and by paying my respects to the custodians of culture and country. After ‘Sorry’ comes the other S word; Sovereignty over this island continent that was never ceded by the Traditional Owners. The tent embassy just down the hill is one visible reminder of the depth of the unfinished business still before this Parliament.
On Saturday 24 November 2007, the thirteen and a half million enrolled Australians wrote the Howard Government into history. Not just a mild rebuke, but one of the most delightfully unambiguous electoral demolition jobs our country has ever seen. An army of AEC staff and volunteers are still reading the fine print, but it looks like the Howard Government has been decapitated, with the Prime Minister rolled out of Parliament, the architect of the NT intervention bluntly deposed, and a crushing number of seats turning over everywhere but the boom state of Western Australia.
All year, the Prime Minister has been waiting for another Tampa to sail over the horizon and provide the Government with a trigger for the same ruthlessly effective campaign themes we saw in 2001.
Written in December 2005 at the end of the most important fortnight – IMHO – of John Howard’s final term. Handed control of both houses of Parliament, the Prime Minister swerved hard right and gave a textbook demonstration of what ‘power corrupts’ means. Turns out they were planting the seeds of their eventual destruction. I’d been working for Senator Rachel Siewert for only a couple of months, and this was an awful, eye opening few days. A couple of hours after I wrote this, they rammed Voluntary Student Unionism through the Chamber just to cap off the fortnight…