Much could be said as to what legacy former Prime Minister John Howard left during his time in office, but the interesting aspect however was hearing him speak on his number one regret. Howard cited his wearing of a bulletproof vest during a protest rally rather than the gun control reforms he enacted. In many ways it reveals how out of touch John Howard still is with the right wing base of Australia.
Just weeks after winning the 1996 federal election, the Port Arthur massacre that resulted in the death of 35 people occurred. In the days that followed, John Howard flew to the Tasmanian town and embraced tearful residents. Rather than seeing this tragedy as simply a one off event, Howard instead took the opportunity presented in spearheading draconian gun control reform. This was seen as controversial and was met with a lot of opposition particularly throughout regional Australia. Many travelled far distances to march in protest against such laws being introduced.
Howard flew to the town of Sale within the Gippsland region of Victoria in order to discuss his measures to a rally that was being held. He was given security advice to wear a bulletproof vest, as a threat was made against the Prime Minister. He was reluctant to wear it and told 9News “I should never have worn it.” He also said “I never really felt unsafe in Australia. I knew there were a lot of people in Australia who disagreed very strongly with what I did. That’s the stuff of politics. But Australians are not violent people.”
Although many say that since gun control reforms were introduced the country is safer, this simply isn’t true. The old saying that gun control takes guns away from the good guys whilst still allowing the bad guys to access them applies here. Not only did it make it harder for Aussies to defend themselves but the influx of 3rd world refugees has ensured the country is not as safe as it was prior to the gun reforms. Not only are we seeing the increase in violent attacks but the actual figures disprove the notion that there is less crimes committed now then there used to be years ago.
Despite Howard’s achievements such as implementing strong borders and keeping the budget into surplus, he also had many flaws. Sending our troops to Afghanistan and Iraq, as-well as gun control reform are things that spring to mind. Unfortunately for Howard rather than acknowledging these failures, he reaffirmed his position and instead mentioned his biggest regret to be wearing a bulletproof vest at a rally. For someone to not be able to learn from their mistakes especially at the age of 79 is telling, ultimately it will be the sin that many Australians will always remember him by. He said his legacy will show that they will be remembered as “people who left the country stronger prouder more prosperous than it had been when we were elected in 1996.” If anything this only shows how out of touch John Howard still is with the conservative and libertarian base of Australia.
Senior Editor @ The Unshackled