I won’t miss him

I couldn’t let last weekend’s historic election result go by without a short comment on this blog. While I’m still not sure I’ll like the new guy, I sure as hello won’t miss the old one.

I remember reading a column by Marina Mahathir (a hero of mine) some years ago in which she described the responsibility of leadership as leading people out of the darkness of their ignorance and into the light – or words to that effect. During his 11 years in power, John Howard has done the opposite. Howard played on people’s fears for political gain, demonising refugees, asylum seekers, Aborigines, Muslims, advocates, academics, gay and lesbian couples and families, the United Nations, anyone who relies on welfare payments to survive…in essence, anyone who didn’t fit his 1950s vision of a straight, white, middle-class Australia. He damaged our international standing on human rights and increased our vulnerability as a target for extremists with his uncriticial support of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

There is some comfort in the thought that he’s most likely to be remembered for being a nasty, closed-minded ideologue who couldn’t bring himself to say sorry to Aboriginal Australians for the horrors visited on them as a result of white settlement in this country, and who turned away not only boatloads of asylum seekers, but a Norwegian ship that came to one group’s rescue. I just wonder whether his damaging legacy can be undone.

Earlier this week, I was in Mildura in northwest Victoria. I woke up Tuesday morning to a headline in The Age, ‘We will say sorry: Rudd‘. And while I know it’s only a start, it lifted my heart and made me think there might yet come a time when I don’t feel ashamed to be Australian.


About Angela Savage

Angela Savage is a Melbourne-based crime writer, who has lived and travelled extensively in Asia. Her first novel, Behind the Night Bazaar won the 2004 Victorian Premier's Literary Award for an unpublished manuscript. She is a winner of the Scarlet Stiletto Award and has thrice been shortlisted for Ned Kelly awards. Her third novel, The Dying Beach, was also shortlisted for the 2014 Davitt Award. Angela teaches writing and is currently studying for her PhD in Creative Writing at Monash University.
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3 Responses to I won’t miss him

  1. Marina Mahathir says:

    Dear Angela,

    Khim Yee sent me the link to your blog. Thank you for the kind words. Am not sure about being anyone’s hero.

    Anyway congratulations for getting rid of Howard. Wish we could do the same back home ๐Ÿ™‚




  2. angelasavage says:

    Hi Marina,
    Thanks for your message – it was nice of you to drop by.
    Hope you don’t mind too much being a hero of sorts as they’re hard to come by! You can blame Khim who first put me on to your work and your columns. I find it heartening to see smart women of influence with a strong sense of social justice speaking/writing publicly for social change. And your words obviously made an impression: it must be years since I read your column on leadership that I referred to in my blog…
    Anyway, more power to you! And here’s to regime change in all the places it needs to occur ๐Ÿ™‚
    Warm regards,


  3. Joe Selvaretnam says:

    Dear Angela
    Khim connected me to you as my family and I are migrating to Australia. Intrestingly I was in Melb leading up to your (er and now, our,) general election. Was really chuffed to see Howard go. I am cautiously hopeful about about the Rudd team.

    Like you, Marina Mahathir has my admiration as she was my boss at the Malaysian AIDS COuncil until 2006. She has been an inspirational leader and teacher.

    Unfortunately the timing to leave Malaysia though not connected seems prophetic as the current troubles suggest.It is indeed sad.

    We are hoping this new adopted home will provide our children equity in all things, peace and hope. The Rudd era has been a nice “welcome” as I share this government’s politics more than I ever will of the last. I hope this is a good sign!!



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