I suppose that one of the mercies of politics is that history tends to remember people for what they have done and not for what they have NOT DONE.
This is no doubt a huge relief to Mr Howard, though no doubt it will take him a wee while to note it.
What exactly did he do?
We know what he did not do. He did not say sorry! He did not capitalise on the opportunity the Keating Government left him to advance the cause of aboriginal people through Mabo and Wik, it was only in the death throes that he discovered aboriginal issues and 'invaded' the Northern Territory. God save us all from paternalistic politics. Very interesting analysis on ABC today (here) of the significance of Keating's Redfern speech the 10th anniversary of which falls on Monday. It reminds us that it heralded a change. No longer could aboriginal people just be ignored, but rather when they were engaged with it was discovered they were mighty powerful folk.
Don Watson, amongst others, argues that this empowering deeply threatened Tory politics. Chief amongst these was the former PM.
The very fact that aboriginal people could and should be heeded was deeply threatening to those whose view of "history" was that European settlement brought nothing to apologise for. It was as recalled by various noteworthies in the broadcast a mythical view of history not based on the facts.
Key amongst these proponents was one JW Howard, whose constant declamation of "black arm band history" was roundly dealt with as being an unsophisticated approach which fails to allow the real facts to be dealt with.
This is logical if you think about it, if all you can do is say that any criticism is "black arm band" then it sets up a scenario in which no genuine critique can be offered. Watson and others note that this is exactly what JWH and others wanted; any suggestion of anything else threatened their (mythical) view of themselves. Only the passage of the years will, I suggest, properly expose how fully pathetic little politicians were.
So what did he do...well I suppose he introduced the GST, probably good.
He tagged along behind Dubbya into Iraq. No doubt catastrophic.
He failed to sign Kyoto...well Kev will be remembered for the ratification being first thing he did.
Can't remember much else he did....ohh yes there was Workchoices...and that cost him the election.
Ohh and he wouldn't resign because people would think he was a coward...and that also cost him the election.
It's a pity I suppose....but what was his name again?