Assignment question

My neo-con essay for Australian history. The question is: Did John Howard’s ascendency represent a new constituency or a return to traditional Australian values?

From my readings thus far, I’ll be arguing that it was a new constituency – that Australian society was going through a political-identity change during the 90’s, and in order to capitalise on this, Howard shaped his rhetoric and the Liberal party around the concerns and needs of the majority of voters, while the Labor party had to contend with the Keating images and policies that they had established.

Thoughts? Any advice?

All is appreciated.



5 thoughts on “Assignment question

  1. Yes Thomas I believe you are right on the new constituency. The end of the Keating government saw a large backlash against a political correctness that bashed on ANY view that was dissenting from that of left leaning lobby groups, uni academics and the like. It also saw a lack of focus on the needs of the groups responsible for both the Howard and Rudd governments. “Ordinary Australians/Howard Battlers/Working Australian Families” They are all the same thing – middle class families (and singles) paying off a mortgage and trying to do the best for their kids. They don’t care about macro economic reform or the rights of the pink spotted mongoose, they just want the government to look after their needs (roads, schools, hospitals, tax etc). They don’t want to be told what to think or that their boss getting a pay rise while they get shafted is good for the country. Politics is all local. As one of the people who counts himself in this group, the constituency changed or altered its political view once they saw they were getting screwed and waited for the government with baseball bats come election time. Really in both cases it was evident in the national mood. Yes nations have moods and they can be measured – 1996 and 2007 were prime examples of that.

  2. I think there was partly a new constituency — the so-called “aspirationals”, but there was even more an old constituency that felt it was being shut out by the policies and rhetoric of the Keating era, or that was simply afraid of change. Both One Nation and John Howard benefited from the second especially, there being a high degree of overlap between Howard and Hanson. Howard, note, as many in the Libs and Nats were very anti-Hanson. I know, because I wrote to just about all of them in 1996 and got replies from quite a few.

    I was generally very happy about the direction Australia was headed under Keating, but that’s another matter… I imagine my views on John Howard are clear enough.

  3. I think that is a bit cheeky of them to ask a question like that in a History essay. They’re only really qualified to teach you one integer of the implied comparison, and even then, they’ve chosen a term (“traditional Australian values”) which would require half an essay to define if you aren’t careful.

  4. The question fits into the context of the course. There were quite a few lessons devoted to establishing the evolving ‘trends’ and ‘values’ of Australian society, albeit from the coordinator’s point of view. And I accept your comment stating “traditional Australian values” are a difficult lot to define. I think I blogged about the topic in the past come to think of it. Anyway, the course has established what those “values” seem to be, and it’s really an essay where we get a chance to reflect on something we all grew up in.

    Though, on the opposite side of all this, I’d much rather write an essay that is critical of the idea that Australia even has “traditional values”. But I guess I’ll be writing another essay that just panders to the course and gets the marks.

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