Britain may not be having an autumn election but other Conservatives are facing contests. There's a 50% chance that Canada's minority Conservatives may face an election. Australia's John Howard is certainly facing an election. He has just announced 24th November as polling day. All opinion polls suggest that he is likely to be beaten by the Blair-like Labor leader, Kevin Rudd, but Mr Howard has been wrongly written off before. Whatever happens, however, it is clear that he has transformed Australia.
This is what Tom Switzer, Opinion Editor of The Australian, said in a lecture just two months ago:
"Everything that should be up -- incomes, economic growth, the budget surplus, consumer and business confidence -- is up, while everything that should be down -- unemployment, inflation, even (historically speaking) interest rates -- is down. The Australian economy is now in the 16th year of the longest economic expansion perhaps, according to John Howard, "since the gold rushes of the 19th century". This, remember, at a time of the Asian financial crisis of 1997-98, the US tech wreck and recession of 2000-01, and Australia's worst drought in a century. Today, Australia ranks 53rd in terms of world population, but it is the world's 13th largest economy, eighth in the world in income per head from 18th two decades ago. In 2005, a Crosby-Textor survey found more than eight out of ten Australians associated living here with opportunity, confidence and success. Of course, this does not explain the state of the opinion polls, but the point here is that we live in very prosperous times. The reason for this prosperity: a smart mix of free-market structural reforms and prudent monetary and fiscal policies during the past two decades. If we had heeded the protectionists and economic interventionists -- that is, the very people who today complain that their views are being silenced -- Australia would well and truly be a banana republic. From the interventionist mindset that delivered economic turmoil in the 1970s, Australia has moved to an era of sounder policy and more durable prosperity."
Mr Switzer goes on to note a rejection of multiculturalism in favour of integration, a significant emergence of conservative media and a new pride in Australian history. He could also have noted the significant extent to which Australia has emerged as a player in the region - including in East Timor, the Solomon Islands as well as in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Related links: Canada provides all conservatives with hope and Ten point briefing on John Howard from 2006