Image for Owzat!

The hubris of the man! If John Winston Howard really wants to get back on the world stage, I suggest he does so by presenting himself to the International Criminal Court in the Hague and ask to be tried for war crimes (for deceitfully engineering Australia’s role in the horrendous invasion of Iraq, since when hundreds of thousands of innocents have died); child abuse (incarceration of children, some for more than 10 years, in Australia’s concentration camps for immigrant “illegals”, thus denying them their childhood); and for human rights violations (long-term incarceration of genuine adult refugees in those same concentration camps).

I thought, after his humiliating double electoral defeat nearly three years ago, he would have crept away and hidden himself for ever under a small stone. But no: after a short sulk, he set off to talk his economic rubbish around the planet (I believe for exorbitant appearance fees) to all the reactionary uglies that are still driving human civilisation to consumerist catastrophe.

And then this most inept of all bowlers — does anyone remember the picture where his ball bounced umpteen times and then stopped before it got to the batsman? — had the temerity to ingratiate himself with the hierarchy of the body that has ruled the world’s most accomplished bunch of cricketing thugs over the past 30 years and got himself nominated for a top position on the sport’s world body.

It’s not at all surprising that African and Asian exponents of the game rejected his nomination, it seems, in the belief that he is racist: who can forget Howard’s anti-Asian campaign comments in the late 1980s?

No human who cares for the welfare of fellow humans can ever forget the hideous policies Howard and right-hand immigration hard-man Philip Ruddock employed to set up their neo-colonial Pacific Solution. They resorted to all those inhumane and anti-UN-charter measures, and bullied defenceless and impecunious island nations into collaborating with them, to deal with a boat-people problem that, for Australia, in reality, is minuscule when compared with the flow of refugees to European nations.

John Howard may have left the domestic political scene, yet echoes of his immigration policies remain in the words of federal opposition leader Tony Abbot (“whatever it takes”) and now in the words of our new prime minister, Julia Gillard (“the right kind of immigrant”).

If either of these people are to show they have the wisdom and guts to run this country in a civilised way, they must get the message across to that mean-spirited (frighteningly big) rump of our largely latently racist society that refugee-boat arrivals are among the most minor of the problems facing our country — and should be dealt with routinely rather than hysterically.

I realise that national border security is necessary for a variety of reasons. But somewhere down the track, Australians must be helped to get the problem into perspective. About-to-retire finance minister Lindsay Tanner made good sense this week when he warned of the long-term dangers to Australia if it continues to treat refugee-status claimants in the mode à la Howard. Gillard and Abbot must intensify the volume of broadcast of Tanner’s warning.

In the meantime, Honest John, you’ve been caught out. Do the right thing and give yourself up.