Chapter 245 in Relevance Deprivation Syndrome:
“If you get shot, what am I going to say to Janette and the kids?”
The question came from Grahame Morris, John Howard’s close friend and trusted advisor in June of 1996. It led him to one of the very few decisions of his prime ministership that he would deeply regret.
Mr Howard had been prime minister less than 50 days when the country was rocked by an act of mass madness by one man in Tasmania, one that remains the fifth worst gun massacre by a single individual anywhere in the world. Thirty-five people were killed in Port Arthur, many of them shot at point blank range. Twenty-one were injured.
Within a week, his cabinet had agreed to the most far-reaching gun reforms in the country’s history, including a total ban on the ownership, sale, possession and importation of automatic and semi-automatic weapons.
Meanwhile, in Bankstown:
A massive manhunt continues for a gunman after the murder of a criminal lawyer in Bankstown on Tuesday afternoon. The victim, Ho Ledinh, was at the Happy Cup cafe at Bankstown City Plaza when he was shot dead at point-blank range at about 3.40pm.
Timing, as they say, is everything.
Apart from the usual lie about “total ban on the ownership, sale, possession and importation of automatic and semi-automatic weapons” this is just more of the same self-aggrandizement from John Howard we’ve been inundated with for the last 21 years.
The rest of the article is basically a paid advertisement for the University of Melbourne’s McKinnon Prize – a leadership prize. Yes, the irony.
David Leyonhjelm penned a great piece last year dismissing the ridiculous meme that he was the “greatest PM ever” which is required reading for gun owners and non-gun owners alike.
However, the real reason Howard paid for this piece to be written (with your own tax dollars) was his insecurity over the NRA joining in the slapping down of Queensland Labor and the LNP, over comments made by Tim Mander about reviewing the National Firearms Agreement.
It’s like clockwork. Every time a politician from either side of the Coles-Woolworths duopoly goes off-script on firearms, panic sets in and a barrage of pro-National Firearms Agreement dross comes out in the mainstream press, as evidenced by the above 2000 word puff piece in the SMH.
Meanwhile, illegal firearm crime is out of control, terrorists, sorry, mental health patients are using vehicles to mow down civilians in Melbourne and scores of law abiding Australians are unable to protect themselves against violent crime.
On top of that, there are now a record number of legally owned firearms in Australia with more being purchased and imported every year and all Howard and his LibLab cohort can do is whinge about it.
If you want to show leadership John, then let’s have that Port Arthur Coronial Inquiry, which both you and Tim Fischer actively shut down before it got underway, to answer those many unanswered questions. At a minimum, you owe it to the victims for closure, particularly if you’re going to politicise their deaths at every turn to discriminate against others. If the Lindt Café siege can begin an inquiry 6 days after it ended and the Whiskey Au-Go Go Fire Coronial Inquest can be re-opened after 44 years, then there’s no excuse.
Only then can we really objectively discuss your response to and so-called “legacy” after Port Arthur. Otherwise, no-one cares you have to say.
Nothing to hide, nothing to fear right?