Congratulations Australia

It's the end of the John Howard Era in Australia.

Howard's reign hasn't by any means been as tumultuous or disastrous as our present American administration, but he has grown unpopular in Australia as a big supporter of the war in Iraq and other American interests. "Bush's Lil' Buddy", he's been called. As the leader of one of the world's largest coal producing nations, and one of the major suppliers for Asia of such, he's also stood by Bush as a holdout from signing the soon-obsolete Kyoto Protocol.

And, disturbingly, he's demonstrated a classic Australian (ok, lets admit it, classic white European) disregard for the people who lived on his land prior to his suntan-lotioned pasty white ancestors. As Yahoo News Australia reports, in 1997 he resisted public pressure to offer even a cursory apology to Indigenous Australians (some of the most screwed over people on the planet) over the European settlement of Australia. He expressed "deep sorrow" to the Australian Reconciliation Convention but maintains that "Australians of this generation should not be required to accept guilt and blame for past actions and policies". (In that case, I guess, no one's responsible for what happened, and if you're upset about it, too freaking bad. Maybe you can get on to apologizing about continuing to accept the benefits of that colonization...) While that may not seem to be a big deal, under his leadership, white Australia has continued to play the role of the 19th century colonizer--Read this story. In the guise of an attempt to fight "rampant child abuse", parliament planned (and still plans) to seize control of 73 aboriginal territories (that is, take their land--just for 5 years though. How kind.) and introduce bans on alcohol and pornography. For anyone who knows the country, alcohol, pornography and child abuse are of course all mainstays of white Australia as well, but there are no talks yet of such government seizure, of, for instance, Townsville.

So, maybe Australians are moving in a positive direction. Maybe America will move in a positive direction.