Richard Flanagan

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Prime Minister Scott Morrison at a news conference at Parliament House in Canberra, Australia, on April 7. “Today is not about ideologies,” he has said. “We checked those at the door.” Credit Lukas Coch/EPA, via Shutterstock

Until four months ago few leaders seemed more influenced — even inspired — by President Trump’s worldview than Australia’s prime minister, Scott Morrison.

Mr. Morrison’s government was climate-denying, globalism-bashing and displayed an increasingly authoritarian bent. His rhetoric, even if it lacked the sriracha of Trumpetry, riffed on Trumpian themes.

And given a good crisis, Mr. Morrison’s administration seemed as determined as the White House to miss no opportunity to make matters worse — as it did with its grossly inept response to Australia’s summer of apocalyptic wild fires.

Having seen this almost impossibly low bar set for government action, many Australians have felt relief tinged with astonishment knowing that their country is today among the world’s most successful in dealing with the coronavirus epidemic.…  Seguir leyendo »

It is difficult to convey the deep emotion many Australians feel about the apology that is to be made to those indigenous Australians now known as the Stolen Generations, this Wednesday at 9am, as the first act of the newly elected Australian parliament. The national excitement around the event is palpable, with thousands heading to Canberra for it, and public screens being erected in most major cities for the live, national broadcast of the event.

Newly elected prime minister Kevin Rudd spent time last weekend with a Stolen Generation survivor, listening to her story. He has pointedly negotiated the wording of the apology with indigenous leaders but not the leader of the Liberal party.…  Seguir leyendo »

John Howard famously said the times were his, and for more than a decade it seemed they were. Australia experienced the greatest and most sustained boom in its history. Yet at its end Australia's indigenous population was in a ruinous state, its extraordinary environment was threatened on numerous fronts, and its people were beginning to ask where the wealth had gone: public schools and public health were in crisis, social welfare was straitened, housing was unaffordable for many, and wages and conditions were being cut under Howard's industrial reforms.

Howard had promised that Australia would be relaxed and comfortable under his rule, yet this year Australians had become more fearful and suspicious of each other than ever, a state of affairs that Howard's government seemed happy to exploit.…  Seguir leyendo »

Among his many achievements, John Howard is sometimes credited with the invention of "dog whistling" politics - whereby, without any objectionable or racist idea being directly stated, the dog hears exactly the message meant.Whatever the truth of such claims, throughout his long career the Australian prime minister has left himself open to the accusation of racism. From questioning Asian immigration in the 1980s to initially welcoming the racist comments of the far-right MP Pauline Hanson, Howard was widely perceived to play the race card to great effect.

He won the 2001 election after dramatically ordering troops to stop a Norwegian container ship, the Tampa, landing on Australian soil hundreds of refugees it had rescued at sea.…  Seguir leyendo »