Christian Ryan
Writer based in Melbourne. Author of Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the Bad Old Days of Australian Cricket

Consider Howard's past

Could a man with such a poor record in matters of Aboriginal rights have made a good president of the ICC?

Christian Ryan

July 8, 2010

Comments: 76 | Text size: A | A

Australian prime minister John Howard embraces Aboriginal war veteran Ken Colburg, Battersea Park, 21 June, 1997
Howard with Aboriginal war veteran Ken Colburg in 1997: an ugly history Paul Vicente / © AFP
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Cricket is in John Howard's heart. What else is in there? Not much, maybe. Or so ran the unanimous agreement on a crisp and cloudless May morning in 1997. We were 14 months into Howard's prime ministership, and a day before Australia set out down the road towards yet another Ashes conquest with their traditional sound beating of the Duke of Norfolk's XI. Timber Creek is 600 kilometres from the nearest city and far, far from Arundel Castle. It was here, on top of a hill, on a patch of scratchy and yellowing grass, that Galarrwuy Yunupingu said, with only the barest hint of exaggeration: "This is a revisit to our waterhole to poison it once again."

He was talking about John Howard's Ten Point Plan. The Ten Point Plan was Howard's gut legislative response to the High Court's Wik decision. With its Mabo ruling of 1992, the High Court dismissed "terra nullius" - the notion that Australia was an empty country before Captain Cook's boat docked - and found that Aboriginal people had legal rights to their native lands. With Wik, the court decided that just because a farmer had a pastoral lease, that did not necessarily mean those Aboriginal native title rights were extinguished. Extinguishment: that was where Howard's Ten Point Plan came in.

Yunupingu is the roughly accepted king and spokesman of all northern Australian Aboriginal people with a gripe. Ever since his teens he'd been telling white chaps, mostly to their gentle bamboozlement, about the deep spiritual relationship between Aborigines and the land. He'd told it to courtrooms, boardrooms, press conferences and land tribunals, and now he knelt down and whispered it to the circling kite-hawks. "Without this right… we will be like a dead leaf in a river that floats up and down in the stream. We will be a bird that flies freely up in the sky with no foundation, with no law, with no song, with no story."

The tock-tock-tocking of clap sticks grew faster. Murmurs of agreement got louder. The air turned thick with - not bitterness, or anger - but fear, first, then stinking black smoke, as traditional landowners tossed the pages, 400 of them, of Howard's Ten Point Plan on the fire.

Howard was in Canberra. A fortnight later, on the eve of Australia's opening first-class hit-out at Bristol, he was still there. It was his prime ministerial duty that day to table in parliament a report called "Bringing Them Home". This report laid plain what many Australians sort of knew but didn't want to hear: that Aboriginal children were taken roughly and against their will from their families; that assimilation into white society was the primary aim behind this; that getting rid of Aboriginal cultures and values was, often, a complementary side-aim; that such doings breached international codes against genocide.

Total healing, the report concluded, was impossible. But, as a small beginning, it suggested two things: that the government provide financial compensation, and the government say sorry. Howard, to make sure the former should never happen, was unwilling to go along with the latter.

Eminent. Distinguished. Respected. Beyond reproach. These words and their close cousins have been used to describe Howard by people sure he should be the International Cricket Council's president-to-be.

Blatantly misleading. Blatantly unfair. Self-centred, defensive and prejudiced. Deliberately divisive. Lack of compassion. Calculated to create panic and fear. Reduces human experience and understanding to a kind of single-entry accounting system. This was how Mick Dodson, Australia's first Aboriginal Social Justice Commissioner, painted Howard and his policies in a mid-term review of the Howard years.

Back then, the easiest thing for Howard's admirers to do was to portray him as the No-Sorry Man and mock all those who'd get hot and bothered over one symbolic little word. This was disingenuous. For just as upsetting as the one word Howard wouldn't say were the others he did say, over and over.

When Pauline Hanson, an independent politician, claimed Aboriginal people were growing fat, spoilt and idle at taxpayers' expense, Howard repeatedly defended her right to say so. Yet Howard, unlike Hanson, was no gullible Queensland redneck; and therein, as Noel Pearson pointed out, lay his real moral crime. "Howard knew the truth about Aboriginal disadvantage," wrote Pearson, "about the fact that Aboriginal people don't just get free homes and free cars and free loans. In Pauline Hanson's defence, a lot of the ignorant things she professes she actually believes."

Then there was ATSIC - the Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Commission - which Howard first ridiculed, then cribbed funding from, then gutted, and eventually abolished. ATSIC, it is true, tended to be staffed by cheats, sycophants and buffoons, none of them more vile than its last chairman, Geoff Clark. Yet on dozens of remote Aboriginal communities, the local ATSIC office was a place you could go if your husband king-hit you, or if your child's ears were blocked, or if you couldn't draw out your dole money and didn't understand why - common problems, these. It was something, where before there was almost nothing, and in its place Howard put not much.

In the hour of junk cricket's ascendancy, it is tempting to suppose that Howard, who likes his cricket best when its plots and subplots reveal themselves slowly, could do the game some good. But would he? Would he really? In answering that question, it would be sloppy not to consider his history as prime minister of Australia

Howard's beef rested not with ATSIC's corrupt leadership. What he didn't like was the idea of an organisation built specifically to represent Aboriginal people's interests. This we know because it was at his inaugural press conference as prime minister that Howard first outlined his intention to take a broom to ATSIC. At that time ATSIC was run not by Geoff Clark, an accused pack rapist, but by the late Gatjil Djerrkura, who was wise and soft-spoken, a man who radiated peace, the way a small, somersaulting bird does.

One afternoon in a parliamentary hallway, at a constitutional convention looking at whether the Northern Territory should be made a fully-fledged Australian state - a convention notable for one delegate's observation that "unless the black (man) becomes white, he comes from nowhere and will get nowhere" - I got chatting with Djerrkura. I asked him if Howard, in their umpteen conversations behind closed doors, had ever shown any sign of emotion about stolen Aboriginal children. "Emotion. What emotion?" he replied. And then he chuckled harshly. Chuckling harshly was never Djerrkura's style.

When it came to announcing Aboriginal policy - dismantling ATSIC, not saying sorry, concocting Ten Point Plans - this was how Howard would go about it. He'd choose uncharacteristically provocative, aggressive words. He'd say them without blinking. On the ground, out bush, the words would stir fear and panic. Howard did not wish merely to clarify and restrict the land rights of Aboriginal people; he wanted, as his cowboy-hatted deputy Tim Fischer put it, to deliver "bucketloads of extinguishment". And he wouldn't do so in a policy document or a bill. No. Howard had a Ten Point Plan - as in, you reckon this one point screws you and your people, here, try ten of them!

He preferred not to consult widely, or not to consult at all. Better that the people affected - the "blacks" - find out their fate at the same time as everyone else. Here's Yunupingu's recent recollection of a trip he made to Canberra in the early days of Howard's reign: "I am sitting at breakfast and I hear a radio tell me that the prime minister has taken millions of dollars of funding for housing and community programmes. He is sending auditors and investigators to check us all out. Later I sit at a long table, talking about 'reconciliation' … Eventually I can't stand it any longer. I get up and leave the talkers to their talking and go back to Arnhem Land."

Down in the cities by the seaside, who'd know or care? Further out, where Aboriginal people lived, a toxic them-and-us atmosphere simmered. Mick Dodson summed up the effect of the Howard years thus: "I see a real anger directed at us - a resentment that we didn't die out when we were supposed to. Why haven't our people been allowed to have just one victory?"

Victory became a habit of Howard's, until the last Australian election, and then last week, when international cricket's most slug-like individuals savoured their moment in the muck. Critics of the process, legitimacy and reasoning - they knocked back Howard "because they could", as Gideon Haigh pinpointed - are right. The office of ICC president is one where your actual powers are limited and the recent history putrid. Still, in the hour of junk cricket's ascendancy, it is tempting to suppose that Howard, who likes his cricket best when its plots and subplots reveal themselves slowly, in soft sunshine, over five days, could do the game some good.

But would he? Would he really? In answering that question, it would be sloppy thinking not to consider his history as prime minister of Australia. It is a long, long history, and his attitude and approach towards Aboriginal people is but one chapter. It is not a wholly bad chapter: Howard's pragmatic emphasis on the practicalities of keeping Aboriginal people alive longer and in hospitals and jails shorter was welcome. And it is surely the most relevant chapter. For it tells us how he carries himself in circumstances where the words you choose are crucial, and where people, non-white people, believe that their rights have long been trampled on, and their voices not listened to, and that only now are they beginning to taste a little power.

Sound familiar, cricket fans? Put John Howard in such circumstances and there is good reason for us all to feel cautious in our hearts.

Christian Ryan is a writer based in Melbourne. He is the author of Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the Bad Old Days of Australian Cricket

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Posted by chully_scee on (July 11, 2010, 5:17 GMT)

@Hammond: It's very doubtful if Howard would have been able to do anything in the US. The man could not get an extra 100,000 tonnes of beef added as export quota for Australian farmers in the so-called Free Trade Agreement which Australia negotiated with the US in 2004.

Howard initiated the discussion for the FTA because he thought he had some pull in the US due to his backing Bush, but Australia came out worse for the deal in the end. See for details

Posted by   on (July 9, 2010, 20:24 GMT)

It's hard to say whether Howard's this particular past was the reason for his rejection. I also don't think his backers were thinking on these lines. Reality is he could do little considering ICC president is largely powerless and so is whole of ICC. There are countless occasions in recent years to prove that BCCI and media rights owners always get what they want irrespective of all. To me it's almost irrelevant who heads the ICC but one thing is sure after Bal's article and this one, that John Howard can kiss goodbye to his cricket aspirations. We have had cricketers like Colin Cowdrey and Clyde Walcott heading the ICC in the past and it will be great to see another of their ilk to head world body again.

Posted by Ausgal24 on (July 9, 2010, 8:14 GMT)

Very insightful article there Christian, at least we are making an introspective attempt to deal with the situation, that's how we should've approached the issue in the first place. @Zeus00-couldn't agree more with your excellent comments, we need to be gentle (and of course honest) with one another, when is that realization going to dawn on humanity?! And we Aussies take honest criticism on the chin, if only people stopped dropping the R word on us all the time. @Laurie99-couldn't have summed up the situation better, Howard was undoubtedly successful because of his divisive approach, and ended up making a mockery of the Aussie 'fair-go' concept, which we were once so proud of. And yes @ The_Wog is definitely Howard's own little apprentice (probably has spiky hair and blue eyes, and is masquerading as a champion of the not necessarily white Aussies, nice try mate!)

Posted by SpiffyD on (July 9, 2010, 6:54 GMT)

The issue of John Howard seems to be one of personality and perception - which is the domain of office holders and politicians anyway. An interesing parallel to John Howard is umpire Darrell Hair - the guy who called Muralitharan for throwing and accused Pakistan of ball tampering. Some perceive Hair as courageous and impartial while others view him as pedantic at best and hopelessly biased.

CA and NZC could easily have exercised more care in selecting candidates. It's hard to think that the guys in the boardroom who made that decision did not consider the ramifications of their selection. If they did not, it is clear that John Howard is not the one to blame here. It's not so much John Howard's insensitivity, but CA's and NZC's insensitivity to the other member boards. How the ICC president is perceived is important and it just so happens that Howard seems to bring out raw emotion amongst more than a few.

Posted by Guru-Bernard on (July 9, 2010, 6:36 GMT)

What a relief to see that the legacy of this penny pinching little dweeb is finally being put in perspective. Cricket is so much better off without this man anywhere near its administration. Not only was he an abomination as far as human rights and the environment were concerned, his "success" in economic management was largely due to stooging Australia with his GST and riding a resources boom. Everyone who voted against his bid should be applauded for their insight and foresight.

Posted by _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on (July 9, 2010, 4:52 GMT)

@zxaar. I know it would be impossible for us the viewers to vote but don't u think we deserve the courtesy of knowing the ICC's goals and how they plan to deal with any controversial issues. We the fans can often only go by what the MEDIA is saying, if the media have LITTLE CLUE as to what the ICC is doing, the most they can do is write whatever comes to their mind or whatever is on the surface for example Howard vs Pawar. OK big deal but do we or the media know what the current president's plans for the future are, do we know what the plans Mark Taylor has and how his plans differ from that of Howard. Are we even sure that there was a manifesto available to those who were involved in the selection of any of the candidates? Suppose there wasn't any? How unprofessional that would look? Our job is not to run the game but there is something called TRANSPARENCY and clearly the ICC is not doing the best they can for the game and I for 1 would like to know how n if they plan to make changes.

Posted by D.V.C. on (July 9, 2010, 4:20 GMT)

"It is not a wholly bad chapter: Howard's pragmatic emphasis on the practicalities of keeping Aboriginal people alive longer and in hospitals and jails shorter was welcome." Interesting. So he sucked at symbolism and compassion but managed to make a quantitative difference to the lives of a minority group in your opinion? Also, I remember watching a piece on the ABC at one point about ATSIC, the Aboriginal people for the most part wouldn't speak on camera about how corrupt it was for fear of retribution. Yes, the leadership changed right before the plug was pulled, but surely it would have taken more than a good leader to turn that organisation around?

Posted by TheWholeClearTruth on (July 9, 2010, 4:15 GMT)

The Author of this article is certainly left-leaning. However I am not an apologist for Howard for I think he did both good and not-so-good things. But I think what this writer shows is his lack of understanding on the Aboriginal Issues. I am Aboriginal myself and I can attest to the fact that ATSIC was the most corrupt organisation who only had interest in one thing - themselves. What Howard did in dismantling and eventually terminating this organisation was the correct thing to do. The writer's assertion that Howard was divisive is absolutely correct! He was divisive to those in ATSIC that had a free ride under the Keating/Hawke Governments. The one thing this author failed to mention is the NT Intervention that was a masterstroke because the aboriginal children in that area were at high risk of being sexually assaulted. So a little perspective please. Howard I think would have done an ok job as ICC VIce President and then President. The deception continues with this writer!

Posted by Porterhouse on (July 9, 2010, 3:42 GMT)

Even Noel Pearson wanted Howard voted in.

And Yunupingu and Pearson both backed Howard with the recent Intervention so selective quoting from those two is a sad reflection on you Chris and your 'analysis'.

Posted by   on (July 9, 2010, 3:38 GMT)

Thank you, Christian. Finally an article that echoes my thoughts as a moderate Australian who lived under Howard.

A further point: the key to his unsuitability for the role, whatever your thoughts on his policies, is that he was strategically divisive. Do we really want the president of the ICC playing divide and rule? Surely a road to disaster and the slow death of cricket!

Posted by AJCutajar on (July 9, 2010, 3:00 GMT)

The premise of this article is contemptible.

Posted by Luke_Nayna630 on (July 9, 2010, 2:46 GMT)

The Howard Coalition Government actually holds the strongest record for assisting Indigenous Australians. It had to deal with two of the greatest court decisions and acted in a swift and responsibility manner. So stop pushing a political agenda which is largely based on your own individual opinion. Howard ran Australia brilliantly, better then either of his predecessors. Maybe you would like to suggest the all brilliant Kevin Rudd for the role...

Posted by The_Wog on (July 9, 2010, 2:45 GMT)

It's been a common theme to ascribe the worst imaginable motives to every policy - especially to right wing government. This kind of "inverse Hansonism" has now been discredited since the left-left-left wing Gillard govt adopted (among other Howard policies) the Pacific Solution to illegal immigrants. (Another issue where Howard did what every other government would do, to be misrepresented as a racist.)

Howard did nothing unusual in response to the Wik native title decision. Claims were being thrown around for the Sydney Harbour Bridge among everything else.

His successors offered no compensation (or any other substantive changes) despite a symbolic apology, because none is deserved. Despite claims that "we all know" the motives for separation were racist, NOT ONE Stolen PERSON has ever emerged, let alone Generations of them, who could prove anything different to the truth: That children were, and are, removed from parents for the reason of neglect or abuse.

Posted by buggyboy on (July 9, 2010, 2:19 GMT)

Good article. And people are missing the point. Howard is not suited to be the President of the ICC because he didn't say sorry to the Aborigines but because he uses race, religion and ethnicity as tools to gain power which is what you do NOT want as the head of the ICC. The argument that Howard would have cleaned up the ICC like he "cleaned" ATSIC is truly bizarre. He didn't clean ATSIC, he abolished it. Howard never cleaned anything in his near 12 years of PM. He used wedge politics and decisiveness as tool to cling onto power for as long as possible for no other reason than to have power. There was no "cleaning" or reforming during Howard's time as PM. All he would have succeeded in doing as VP or President of the ICC is dividing the ICC into blocks by race because thats ALL he knows how to do.

Posted by bigjobs on (July 9, 2010, 1:42 GMT)

sorry zxaar should have been gizza

Posted by rtom on (July 9, 2010, 1:28 GMT)

The issue is not whether Howard is capable being the IIC president. I am sure issue was "anti Aussie" feeling. Probably this was needed as some years back in every aspect of the office, Aussie's were dominating.. !! now its turn of Asian countries. I am not sure how better the elected president of ICC is compared to Howard ??? Wil he be strng enough to oppose the regional issue ?? Will he be able to clean the mess with ICC ?? will he start programmes so as to keep the sanctity of the Test cricket ? will he start up some strong regulations to stop the 20-20 craze ?

Posted by Antony_Faisandier on (July 9, 2010, 0:43 GMT)

Fantastic article. I still think he would have done a good job at the ICC, and it was pretty dodgy to oppose him, but you make a good point.

Posted by SRT_Jammy_Dada_VVS_and_Anil_legends on (July 9, 2010, 0:42 GMT)

The first article that has properly outlined the background behind John Howard's prime ministership- thanks.

Posted by zxaar on (July 8, 2010, 21:25 GMT)

@neutral_fan, "Why is there no debate on their MANIFESTOS regarding how they plan to run the CRICKET. " ------------------- To do and to conduct these there is a president chosen for ICC. It is ICC job to run cricket, they will do it. Our job is not running cricket. You forget that we are the viewer. We could only comment and debate what is happening. And what is happening is Haward got rejected. Any comments about it???

Posted by nervousnineties on (July 8, 2010, 20:27 GMT)

Wow! Hats off to you son. That was a great article. Passionate, hard-hitting and cutting to the bone of some serious, real issues affecting real people. Nailed it. I feel like buying you a beer.

Posted by BhuvG on (July 8, 2010, 18:56 GMT)

@zippydingdong, et al: Let's get facts right. I want to comment on your quote 'those countries who are 100% stricken with famine,disease and corruption' and some of ill conceived perception on India. First, for the record, the last famine in India was in 1966. Yes, India appears chaotic and poor country, inspite of GDP of 1159 billion dollars (1.87% of world compared to 1.64% of AUS as of 2009, source world bank). Moreover, the average growth rate for the last decade is 7% (second only to china) and economists predict it's set to grow 10%, even if it has utilized half of its potential. Consider this - when the British first arrived India as traders, India's contribution to world economy is 25% and when they left British's was 25%.Does it tell something?There is a mini world living inside India, one can see either side of extremes in all walks of life.Bottom line is, you can love to hate India but you will ignore it at your next generations peril. Like it or not, that simple.

Posted by   on (July 8, 2010, 18:19 GMT)

I completely agree with NEUTRAL_FAN, we need strong administrators who aren't in this for their own good or ego. Or should we continue to accept elite sport where teams walk off the field and forfeit tests when they can't accept the (neutral) umpires decision, or threaten to call off tours if they don;t get their own way. It has nothing to do with racism, it is about cricket. Aussies, Kiwis or the English would be quite happy to get stuck into each other in any of these situations and that has got nothing to do with colour...

Posted by Skywalker1977 on (July 8, 2010, 17:44 GMT)

Well, Pawar might not be 'racist or 'divisive', but he certainly is corrupt. Which is a greater sin? Indian politicians are piggybacking on the country's financial clout in the game to catapult themselves to positions of power without having any understanding or vision for cricket.

Posted by Bamarolls on (July 8, 2010, 17:20 GMT)

Bravo Mr. Ryan for this eye-opening account of Howard's devisive tactics, esp. to non-Australians. Howard supporters in the room, if this account is true, just get off the sofa and walk out of the room.

Posted by pubudu on (July 8, 2010, 17:16 GMT)

Howard was the worst choice Australia could have made and they did made was plain stupid to nominate such a racist to a council which have more Asians and Africans than the whites. it was never going to be successful and i hope Aussies learned now who is in charge, ICC is not any more their play ground to do anything they want and get away. times have changed

Posted by _NEUTRAL_Fan_ on (July 8, 2010, 17:03 GMT)

What is really sad is that here is yet another article debating whether or not Howard deserved to be rejected. Where are the articles on why ICC NEED REFORM?! Are there so many who are content with the stupid and irrational system with which ICC chooses a leader, let alone their policies or lack there-of. Evry1 is debating on whether or not Howard is a racist and whether or not Pawar is too corrupt. Why is there no debate on their MANIFESTOS regarding how they plan to run the CRICKET. Oh....right...they didn't really state them did they? Did I miss it? (If so please tell me because mayb I did lol). How can you claim competence for administration if you don't even publish a manifesto...a blue-print for changes you plan to implement in regards to the game. Since when does the future of cricket concerns only a bunch of middle aged-senior citizens cooped up somewhere in a board room? This is the 21st century, there is internet, publish your manifestos and shine more light on the process!

Posted by   on (July 8, 2010, 16:55 GMT)

The issue I'm afraid isn't entirely rest on his blatant, heartless and cruel mistreatment of native people in Australia. It is how he treats people (non white folk) when he has power. ICC indeed made the correct decision as an entity. This is democracy at work. The VOTES control direction. If you don't got the VOTES, I suggested you keep your mouth shut. Perhaps, AUS & NZ can pick someone a little less racist?

Posted by ZEUS00 on (July 8, 2010, 16:29 GMT)

Globalization of cricket will demand compromises every step of the way, and the way this issue is being tackled, things don't look that optimistic. To the sub-continental cricket lovers, my suggestion would be not to just casually label someone (let alone an entire nation) 'racist'...a word charged with so much negativity, condemnation and permanent stigma. That's not how we create an atmosphere of mutual trust /transparent communication.. is it?! People who were instrumental in booting John Howard out of political power in Australia, now (somewhat hypocritically) have become his vociferous supporters. Yet another illustration of the unenlightened us/them attitude. I'm Kiwi, and having lived in Australia for many years, my honest opinion is that our Aussie friends have been guilty of adopting a defensive, gladiatorial and over-patriotic approach to this situation. We need some prominent ex-cricketers running the show, why not nominate someone like Mark Taylor or Richard Hadlee?

Posted by SangakaraFan on (July 8, 2010, 16:10 GMT)

Great article..Lot of non-australians never knew about this issue. I am glad "Loser" Howard was stipped naked and kicked out "Democratically" by all boards except for ECB. Howard stopped Australia from touring Zim and then shamelessly went begging to Zimbabwe last month to beg for votes. That itself shows his selfish character.

Posted by   on (July 8, 2010, 15:50 GMT)

Perhaps Mr Ryan should have asked his editors to take more care when taking the moral high ground. The man depicted is the late Ken Colbung (not Colburg), who Howard actually supported in his efforts. I am not a fan of conservative politics in Australia but I am beginning to wonder (after reading the number of published articles on this subject on cricinfo) whether the racist argument in cricket is developing into one of who has the biggest chip on their shoulder!

Posted by   on (July 8, 2010, 15:48 GMT)

John Howard is a White Supermist in reality. All actions, all laws, all values enacted by White are OK for him. He unequivocally supported torture at Guantanamo Bay and he without flinching an eye supported the War against Iraqi people.

Posted by   on (July 8, 2010, 15:42 GMT)

There is certainly some justice to the claim that Howard would not have made a good ICC president. There's even more justice in the assertion he was not a good prime minister. That is not the issue I have. Here the author has cogently and reasonably raised grounds for a serious objection. Why couldn't the BCCI have done the same, and announced their intention to do so in the months available to them rather than leave it as an ambush? I don't like Howard, but I don't like the BCCI either. And this sorry debacle just clarifies why they can't be trusted.

Posted by   on (July 8, 2010, 15:02 GMT)

Good article. Sharad Pawar himself is no saint. He is a professional politician just like Howard. But one thing is for sure, had Howard been elected as the ICC president there was certainly going to be more animosity spread around than sportsmanship. Pawar is probably just as bad, but rest assured he WILL give you cricket, there is just too much money involved to deprive us from it! Too much cricket only harms cricket and the players, not nations and diplomacy. And we all know how organizing bodies feel about their players :)

Posted by bobbycool on (July 8, 2010, 14:20 GMT)

ho ho ho.aussies are the most arrogant nation in the world.Their forefathers were thugs.thieves, murderers,rapists ,were banned from the land of hope and glory(England)and dumped on that continent. Old habbits dont go away,they did the same all over again and oppressed the poor innocent native people,(as did all europeans) threw them away from their land,got hold of the mining,exploited their land in full,benifitted only themselves, (as did all europeans),and are now trying the same as recent as the boat refugees. Howard mate forget cricket.You are a disgrace to this highly decent organisation even to be on the cricket ground. Shame on you mate.

Posted by Chris_P on (July 8, 2010, 13:50 GMT)

Good article Christian, although you only touched on a few things about Howard, there were many more you could have added. Again, and I have stated this in other comments, there was no official reason offered to his rejection which has led to a million and one speculative comments ranging from the absurd to the ridiculous. So what is the reason? You can bet anything it isn't his stance on the aborignal historical events. As an Australian, I feel a slur against the country. yet we have viewed questionable appointments in other situations that gets rubber stamped for approval? There is definitely a transparency issue here that the ICC should address. But then. all most countries want is some form of nodding puppet. I am not even sure of what the reason was to set up a process of appointment then to toss it out when it doesn't suit? Why go through that charade in the first place?

Posted by keyser_sozey on (July 8, 2010, 13:47 GMT)

Ungracious and stupid article: sanctimonious and mean spirited. In my opinion it is not relevant to the ICC presidency. No politician after 10 years as PM will have a clean sheet. Very easy to throw rocks from the cheap seats. AS IF moral rectitude was a prerequisite for ICC directorship or presidency. Howard would do a great job and it would not be in his interest to be decisive. He likes to win and winning would be to bring harmony and decency back to the Governance of the game.

Posted by Percy_Fender on (July 8, 2010, 13:29 GMT)

It is wonderful to read Christian Ryan's very well researched article on Mr John Howard who failed in his attempt to become the President of the ICC. Coming from an Australian, it makes delightful reading because I have always felt that every Australian has a deep sense of nationalism and generally will never talk against their own. Coming soon after the articles from Sambit Bal and Mukul Kesavan, it very heartening to see that Cricinfo has finally realised its initial mistake of being very guarded in its response to Howard. In fact I had written a few letters at the very outset, generally condemning John Howard as a disaster in waiting for the already beleaguered ICC. All my posts got published initially but suddenly, as if the someone had made his move, all those letters were blanked. I could make out that someone in Cricinfo was behind it all. The sad thing is that there were many offensive posts which remained untouched. I wonder if it was because I was amongst the early ones.

Posted by rollyko on (July 8, 2010, 13:15 GMT)

The ICC are afraid of Howard. Why would they want someone honest to ruin their arrangements.

Posted by australia1234 on (July 8, 2010, 13:06 GMT)

To reject John Howard on the basis of his political past is completely unfair.Regardless of his political agenda, John Howard is undeniably a strong leader, as he was the democratically elected leader of Australia for 11 years. Whether he is the best candidate for the job is up to the boards of Australia and New Zealand. Furthermore, to label John Howard as racist is false and naive.

Posted by reecejames on (July 8, 2010, 12:51 GMT)

was that your uni assigment, because it doesnt belong in the real world of life. Let remind you the man that said sorry (Rudd) was a Tyrant to his staff and end the end everyone hated him, was he really sorry. No he wanted power and did any think to get it, You Christian some how believe the lie or want to get a nice job in the ABC etc etc. John howard is been the best thing for Australia, and like it or not your thinking just doesnt help any one. Doesnt help the Aboriginal and doesnt help you.

Aboriginal were look after, they just didnt get Sorry, Aboriginal got sorry and didnt get look after...Broken promises (Rudd again)... Have a look at the policey that labour broke... Funny isnt it .. Howard will bring so much to cricket ... Im just Sorry for people like you...

I have no idea how you get tio his conclusion, you need to sloppy thinking you say ... think harder.IT STILL HAPPENING .... Howard or no howard... I want to leader who means what he says, Not people like you

Posted by   on (July 8, 2010, 12:33 GMT)

Porterhouse is spot on! ATSIC was a corrupt organisation run by officials elected under dubious circumstances who misappropriated millions of dollars of taxpayers money to splurge on themselves.

John Howard did the right thing to get rid of ATSIC. The same action is required to get rid of those cricket officials throughout the world siphoning off funds earmarked for junior and regional development so that they can travel first class, stay in luxury hotels and dine at the most expensive restaurants.

Posted by robheinen on (July 8, 2010, 12:14 GMT)

'where people, non-white people, believe that their rights have long been trampled on' It is this quote that gets me worried these days. Where I live cricket is being kept alive by expats - usually from a coloured background. Playing cricket in these circumstances you learn certain words of the languages used by the various peoples. It can then happen that all of a sudden you can hear people swearing and cursing at the white man. I don't take offense because usually it is done in the heat of the moment - although there are exceptions. The point of my remark however - and I'm not the first one to point this out - is that there seem to be two moral standards to measure people by. This doesn't seem to be ethics is about.

Posted by Laurie99 on (July 8, 2010, 11:35 GMT)

As an Australian I am quite happy that Howard was knocked back from the ICC role. This view isn't based on his highly racist policies concerning the treatment of boat people under the guise of border protection or his inability to say sorry to the Aboriginal population (I understand that privately he actually wanted to do so but was afraid of the compensation ramifications). His stand on the situation in Zimbabwe was definitely the correct one. The reason I support him not being approved is that he was very successful in politics because of his divisive approach. Rather than promote an inclusive society he has used "wedge" politics to engender a them v us society which has broken the previous Australian ethic of a "fair go". This approach is the exact opposite to what is required to run the ICC today which is an inclusive approach that encourages all countries to come together and equally participate.

Posted by proteasfan99 on (July 8, 2010, 11:24 GMT)

This issue does not really matter as far as Howard's case for ICC vice presidency is concerned. The period fact that Howrad lost his bid was clear. As an Australian leader you stop your team from touring Zimbabwe but in desperate times you visit the country. You hold allegations against Muralitharan and expect Sri Lanka to back your nomination..hahahah..Zimbabwe would have been foolish to do the same to a man who deprived them of cricket. Asain countries are simply united against Australia, England and New Zealand. So when it comes to a John Howard they will not smile at such. At the end of the day Howard was not an appropriate candidate and has personal issues to solve with some of the ICC member countries that flactuated from his time as PM

Posted by   on (July 8, 2010, 10:59 GMT)

Well Done, very well written Christian.

Posted by Abstract.chintak on (July 8, 2010, 10:48 GMT)

These arguments within comments section are just plain stupid and immature. Please give merit to the article based on its contents and motion. I hope that Gideon Haigh (now there is one afraid and angry fellow) has read this article thoroughly. As a non-chauvinistic person I feel Australia should have nominated some other person. Alas!! was not to be. Yes, a person's past has the right to haunt him. Forget about the whole deal, process, and cunning tactics BCCI used here and let us imagine John Howard as the elect ICC president..presiding over Sri Lanka, India, Pakistan, WI, Zim. and of course Eng. and Aus cricket boards.....something not right????yes, definitely something not right.....definitely!!! ..please Gideon Haigh .did you imagine that scenario ever before writing that stupid acidic article...??Wise people behave stupidly sometimes and come up philosophically twisted and confused justification---John Howard and Gideon Haigh included.

Posted by Philip_Gnana on (July 8, 2010, 10:26 GMT)

Nice article here. Christian right in bringing to the knowledge of the circketing public about the background that Howard comes from. From time to time we have read, seen and heard Howard's attitude towards the Aborigines. The ICC being a multi cultural sporting organisation requires someone without that baggage. Trying to defend Howard's nomination itself prove so devisive that it brought to light that much thought had not been given to the consequences of his nomination. What the ICC requires is a facilitator and a leader. Not a Maverick Philip Gnana, New Malden, Surrey

Posted by   on (July 8, 2010, 10:07 GMT)

Since when did politicians become saints? Sharad Pawar is the food & agro minister here in India. Do I need to point out how bad the situation is? Why don't we just ask the one question-could he have improved the state of cricket?

Posted by dlan88 on (July 8, 2010, 9:08 GMT)

There's too much commentary on Howard's politics towards Aboriginals and their rights. I understand Aboriginals have been treated horrendously in Australia, but has anything changed? Rudd saying I'm sorry hasn't changed squat, its just all wiffy waffy stuff to make the rest of us feel like things have changed and improved. That's another issue though. There hasn't been enough relevance to Howard's policy making. A person who is willing to dismantle a corrupt organisation at the detriment of his popularity is probably someone who would do good for the ICC and cricket as a whole. I don't deny he was insensitive and quite possibly outright discriminatory to Aboriginals...whether that is a basis for non-selection as ICC not really convinced. I dnt want a politician who can satisfy as many people as possible, I want someone to make cricket better for the entire world. I can't believe Taylor has been placed as a potential nominee. We need a president not a great captain!

Posted by EddyM on (July 8, 2010, 8:56 GMT)

hammond, you are a right wally

Posted by   on (July 8, 2010, 8:55 GMT)

@redneck: Let's not be naïve. The criteria for "standard of living" do not include the subtle political agendas, social and political biases, policies and so on and so forth. What was Australia ranked in 1992 (if the U.N. even had a "standard of living" measurement back then)? Don't get me wrong, I love Australia so much that I actually want to move in after I spent 3 months in WA, but completely rejecting and denying the past won't change the truth.

Posted by randikaayya on (July 8, 2010, 8:31 GMT)

@redneck. No question about the Australian standard of living and Australia as a whole mate. Please don't misinterpret some of the comments of viewers as leveled against Australia. Its Howard that is the case in point here. As a leading member of the cricketing fraternity however, Australia should be more considerate on who they nominate to lead the cricketing world. The post demands and individual whose a proven diplomat able to talk terms with all concerned, a cricketing brain capable of overseeing and administering rules and regulations of the game, an administrator capable of managing the generation and distribution of wealth for member boards and to promote the game to ever part of the world.

The above description we believe does not fit John Howard, period. Peace!

Posted by pak-united on (July 8, 2010, 8:21 GMT)

The issue that needs to be considered is "Does the financial aspect supersede equality amongst human beings?"

Furthermore two wrongs don't make a right (Mugabe and Howard)

Our beautiful game is getting mixed up with politics, that's where the problem is!

An educated and civilized society would condemn such steps and reject such a candidate no matter what "financial stability" he provided to his country. Why make one person go through racism and favour another just because of their color?

Say no to prejudice and inequality!

Posted by gettussaa on (July 8, 2010, 8:17 GMT)

@ redneck "the fact the nation voted howard back in a couple more times after the events the auther brought up to me suggests that most australians didnt agree with christians take on that issue!". For all we know, it might also mean that Australian citizens agree with Howard's take on the aboriginal issue. Christian is not slinging mud on Howard. Howard might have handled financial crisis well, but that fact is irrelevant. ICC is not an organization in financial distress, it is an organization composed of heterogeneous cultures. In my view, christian is just rightly highlighting Howard's abysmal record in handling race issues and is thus not suited to head such an organization.

Posted by vxttemp on (July 8, 2010, 8:09 GMT)

I agree about bad things happening around the world and not just in Australia. But I question/wonder where is the common sense of the majority? Does Pawar not doing good in india (for that matter anyone in the world) gives right to others to do bad things? Can we call ourselves educated? And we call about cleaning up? Sounds funny to me. By the way, I don't know whether Pawar/Howrad is good or bad. But I'm sure, you cannot do something wrong and say "The thing I did is not as bad as ..."

Posted by dnarmstrong on (July 8, 2010, 8:08 GMT)

Aborigines have been compensated for years and continue to be, so while he refused to say sorry to aboriginals for things that happened decades ago and he had nothing to do with, what exactly does this have to do with his standing as an excellent administrator over many years? Is there an implication that Howard is racist? From where would you make this assumption?

Posted by OnlyT20 on (July 8, 2010, 7:58 GMT)

The South Asian bloc (especially the BCCI) is the current super power in the cricketing world. They are the final decision makers. Period.

As a matter of fact, I wouldnt be surprised if at some point in time the BCCI stops subscribing to the ICC. It really doesnt matter what the ICC says or does. Its a puppet organisation at the end of the day. Pawar or Howard --> pointless.

With the BCCI generating revenues close to 75% of the ICC's total revenue, all other cricket boards need to suck it up.

@redneck- "australia is ranked 2nd behind only norway for standard of living by the UN"...huh?!!

Posted by Gizza on (July 8, 2010, 7:50 GMT)

@bigjobs "what a joke to talk about human rights in australia i wonder how many in zimbabwe would rather mugabe to howard"

Mugabe only discriminated againstwhite Zimbabweans and the Ndebele which together constitute 10-15% of Zimbabwe's population. So in that sense Howard and Mugabe are alike in that only the rights of minorities suffered while they were in power. Remember Mugabe was democratically elected in for the first 15 or so years of his leadership.

Also the actions of Western leaders are generally scrutinised to a greater extent than developing nations since for example 99% of Australians are literate. You'd expect something similar to the mistreatment of indigenous in poorer African and Asian countries but in Australia?

@non-Australians, to be fair most Aussies would have voted for Howard's party continuously because of its centre-right economic policies which provided the foundation for Australia to escape recession just recently. The racist vote is just one part.

Posted by zxaar on (July 8, 2010, 7:41 GMT)

@ Hammond "The ICC missed a trick here. They never gave the bloke a chance, based on prejudices of their own. A real shame." --------------- ICC hasn't missed any trick here. If politician is what you want they have chosen a better one who actually succeeded in getting elected. Haward is not good politician because for simple reason that he failed. There is no place for loser in life. What a loser can bring to table that a winner can not. I say nothing. If haward was any able man, he would not fail this, because able men do not fail, like Pawar.

Posted by zxaar on (July 8, 2010, 7:22 GMT)

@ Hammond "The ICC missed a trick here. They never gave the bloke a chance, based on prejudices of their own. A real shame." --------------- ICC hasn't missed any trick here. If politician is what you want they have chosen a better one who actually succeeded in getting elected. Haward is not good politician because for simple reason that he failed. There is no place for loser in life. What a loser can bring to table that a winner can not. I say nothing. If haward was any able man, he would not fail this, because able men do not fail, like Pawar.

Posted by PeteB on (July 8, 2010, 7:17 GMT)

randikaayya, i think those criteria would make Howard an excellent candidate to run a cricketing body

Posted by   on (July 8, 2010, 7:05 GMT)

Hello Christian Loved the article. Well researched. Somebody had mentioned Jason Gillespie's dad not wanting Howard either. He is divisive.

ICC reaching US?????

@Midnight_Blues..wake up Rip Van does not fill up the stadiums,,cricket is way way over the heads of US americans. please get out of that shoe box.

Am glad he got egg on his face. Who next Kevin Rudd?

Posted by ashish514 on (July 8, 2010, 6:33 GMT)

Here we are discussing the moral correctness or lack of it in the whole incidence while for both the sides it's all about power. CA wanted Howard as president to curb India's dominance while the south Asian block opposed it coz they knew it wud. We would never know whether Howard would have been a good president or not. But his success would not have been completely dependent on his own competence as the BCCI still calls the shots. Agreed that his election may have affected a slight tilt in the in the power balance, but not to the extent of the olden days when England and Australia treated world cricket as their property. The situation today with BCCI holding the reigns is as bad and undemocratic as it was in those days. And making the ICC a democratic, independent and powerful organisation is now more difficult because the source of BCCI's power is the cricket crazy audience in India, unlike Aus or Eng whose source of power was their cricketing legacy and dominance of whites.

Posted by redneck on (July 8, 2010, 6:29 GMT)

@BhuvG dont take everything on face value mate! australia is ranked 2nd behind only norway for standard of living by the UN. if what the auther was saying was true there is noway australia could achieve such a high standard of living! on a side note with this pawar bloke in india being the minister for food no less in a nation that has quite a large percentage of its citizens living in poverty what has he done to help these less fortunate indians????? probably less than what the auther is saying howard did with the indiginous australians! but yet wheres the article slinging mud at pawar???? the fact the nation voted howard back in a couple more times after the events the auther brought up to me suggests that most australians didnt agree with christians take on that issue!

Posted by ashish514 on (July 8, 2010, 6:24 GMT)

@Hammond Why does everyone love to run to USA for help?? They may be rich but remember your own words"where cricket is comparable to Fijian tribal head-dress". There is no market for cricket there accept for some Indian and Pakistanis who have taken US citizenship.And at this level, no one helps anyone until they have their own interests.

Posted by randikaayya on (July 8, 2010, 6:23 GMT)

An epic article. Never mind commenting on the context, but this establish the traditionally held view of Howard in our parts. A discriminatory, divisive, remorseless, cynic. Not fit to play a role in ICC by any stretch of imagination.

Posted by   on (July 8, 2010, 6:21 GMT)

an excellent article Christian. Howard's political past has got serious bagage, most of that is disturbing, considering the configuration of the cricketing world.

Posted by catalyst213 on (July 8, 2010, 6:18 GMT)

Now, this is a great article and totally in relevance as to why Howard was disrespectfully yet soundly rejected. Redneck Aussies will kiss Howard's bottom and will support him, but thankfully not all and certainly not the rest of the world, he has been promptly BOOT-KICKED in a very ceremonial way.

Posted by zippydingdong on (July 8, 2010, 6:03 GMT)

What a shocking article!Stick to cricket Christian,just like the ICC should do and the sub-continents cricket boards.Should we be going through some of the leaderships of those countries who are 100% stricken with famine,disease and corruption on every street while their rich flourish.You have strung out on a couple of points and dragged them out so you can fill a page.Howard was a tough leader who lead the country into strong economic times.He was harsh but fair on asylum seekers,and yes he didnt say sorry to the aboriginal people for the stolen generation but neither would I and I have more aboriginal in me than most.The members who made the votes against Howard were more scared about Howard cleaning out a dodgey set up. Honestly,what is happening to our beautiful game?

Posted by   on (July 8, 2010, 5:42 GMT)

@Hammong coalition of the willing? And you wonder why the Asian-African block rejected him? Wipe that red off your neck mate.

Posted by Midnight_Blues on (July 8, 2010, 5:27 GMT)

I have to agree with the comment posted by "Hammond", but also consider the following: had ICC broken into the shores of the US big time, India's clout in the future would have diminished as the money maker in cricket. was it not India who fostered Pak and Ban to reject the nomination? might hold some truth in it.

Posted by BhuvG on (July 8, 2010, 4:46 GMT)

Very informative article. There were so many articles written on the subject ever since ICC rejected Howard's nomination none digged into his DISTURBING past. It's hard to believe that this man was second longest served Australian Prime Minister (about 12 years). That tells a lot about the Australian society at large. No wonder they say all that shines is not gold.


Posted by bigjobs on (July 8, 2010, 4:27 GMT)

what a joke to talk about human rights in australia i wonder how many in zimbabwe would rather mugabe to howard

Posted by redneck on (July 8, 2010, 4:23 GMT)

dont disgrace your tallented cricket writting skills and become a labor hack christian! what you have written is one eyed to say the least (3 paragraphs dragging out what he didnt do right in your opinion to one sentence stating what he achieved). i could equally write a piece on how howard saved australia from the global financial cricis praising his astute leadership and sound deccission making with all thing financial. it would also fall in to the irrelevent to all things cricket basket just like your piece here!

Posted by Porterhouse on (July 8, 2010, 4:13 GMT)

The similarities between ATSIC and the ICC are apt. Both dysfunctional organisations full of corrupt administrators and non representative swill. So on that basis he was exactly the right man for the job.

Posted by Hammond on (July 8, 2010, 4:00 GMT)

I love Christian, how you totally glazed over Howards economic credentials and focused on one small part of his prime ministership. I think the main tragedy here is the fact that Howard could have called in a few debts in the ole USA and got cricket a real helping hand over there. They may not listen to some unknown (to them) kiwi but an ex-member of the "coalition of the willing" might have a lot of clout in the USA. This even made the US news (where cricket is comparable to Fijian tribal head-dress). The ICC missed a trick here. They never gave the bloke a chance, based on prejudices of their own. A real shame.

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Christian RyanClose
Christian Ryan Christian Ryan lives in Melbourne, writes and edits, was once the editor of The Monthly magazine and Wisden Australia, and now bowls low-grade, high-bouncing legbreaks with renewed zeal in recognition of Stuart MacGill's retirement and the selection opportunities this presents. He is the author of Golden Boy: Kim Hughes and the Bad Old Days of Australian Cricket and Australia: Story of a Cricket Country

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