The Conservative Friends of the Commonwealth held an interesting event this morning, an hour with John Howard, former Prime Minister of Australia.
The event headed by Sunil Sharma of CFOC and Helen Grant MP was a wonderful insight into the years of John Howard’s time as country leader, his history and links with the UK (even campaigning for the Tories in London!) and thoughts on how we can build and strengthen links with Australia in the future.
He touched on a number of woke subjects from women in politics and press balance to using language carefully and the importance of maintaining defence, even when a country is at peace and reluctant to build an army.
John Howard ran through a number of his political clashes and comebacks, from managing asylum seekers and his troubles dealing with a terrorist attack a few weeks into his leadership, to implementing gun control and how he managed despite stepping into a country with a huge Budget deficit.
Touching on some serious subjects, there was also discussion on how he was in Washington to meet George Bush as the 911 attacks happened. Explaining how the world changed in day and that he was taking part in a press conference as the attack happened, he saw the issue as an attack on people’s way of life and stood firmly by the USA. Noting how a strong, optimistic Americans suddenly had a mindset of fear, feeling alone and vulnerable and was boosted by international partners.
Discussions on WMDs in Iraq, which I will leave between us and the other viewers, showed a more serious side to what had been a rather chipper conversation until that point, reminding us all of how that incident changed international politics forever.
Overall, John Howard was relaxed and happy to talk (with the odd eyebrow raising joke!), he gave off a real ‘Aussie’ vibe while teaching and sharing his history, views and thoughts on both Australian and international politics.
While many past PMs fade out, it is clear John Howard, despite being of pensionable age, is keen to continue giving to his country, contributing to change and making a difference to the lives of Australians.
An interesting evet which will no doubt be snipped for the CFOC podcast.
We look forward to it!