John Winston Howard, born 26 July 1939, was the 25th Prime Minister of Australia. John Howard was elected to the Australian Parliament in 1974 as the member for Bennelong. He held this seat until December 2007. During his long parliamentary career, he served as Treasurer (in the Fraser Government) from 1977 to 1983, and was leader of the Opposition from 1985 to 1989, and then from 1995. Mr Howard served as Prime Minister from 11 March 1996 to 3 December 2007, and was the second longest serving Australian Prime Minister (after Sir Robert Menzies). Mr Howard also lost his own parliamentary seat in 2007: becoming the second Australian Prime Minister to do so.
Mr Howard's autobiography spans his life from his childhood in suburban Sydney through to his government's defeat in 2007. He tells us of the events and circumstances that influenced and motivated him and shaped his leadership.
The Howard Government presided over a period of strong economic growth in Australia. During this period, the Howard Government introduced strong gun control measures (after the Port Arthur massacre in April 1996) and undertook taxation and industrial relations reform.
This is an account of both John Howard's 33 year political career and of a changing Australia during this period. It's easy to read and while interpretations will differ about the stance taken on some issues, or the relative importance of others it is interesting to see what John Howard regarded as important, and why.
This is not a complete account of the Howard Government: it is still too close to the end of that government, and an objective assessment requires other more detached perspectives.
But by looking at John Howard's own account of what he set out to achieve and why, we can decide how beneficial we believe those achievements were, and whether we are comfortable with all or some of the Howard legacy.
`Politics is always about today's reality, not that great realm of what might have been.'