In a previous posting John Howard Wants Christmas Tree in OZ I raised concerns that this year the Aussie tradition of enjoying Christmas on the beaches of Sydney would have to be abandoned because of existing racial tension, but I was fortunately proven wrong.
The men in blue came out in force magnificently to ensure a great Aussie tradition continues, albeit in a slightly diminished participation and with more ‘joyous’ restraint as the police banned alcohol from the beaches – a most wise step. But the beaches were alive with sound of revellers - apologies to Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein for paraphasing one of their lines.
A hugh thanks to the police and other emergency services including and especially the fantastic fire services for their services during the holiday season.
In that same posting I had also queried Prime Minister’s John Howard’s unnecessary, questionable and rather provocative call one week before Christmas for departmental stores and schools to return to a more Christian tradition by depicting biblical nativity scenes and the Christmas tree. He demanded that Christians reject the contemptuous cultural cringe of fearing to offend minority religions.
Well, his so-called “concerns” were totally unjustified. Nativity scenes abounded and so did the German-originated practice of putting up Christmas tree – one even went up in my non-Christian sister’s house.
As for cultural cringe, Australian-wide TV broadcasts of Carols by Candlelight and Carols in the Domain continued as scheduled this year as they had been for decades.
These plus the Meyers and David Jones departmental stores and indeed the Uniting Church's repudiation of Howard's provocative allegation showed Howard might have been 'playing to the electoral gallery'.
It may be also interesting to note that during that period John Howard’s government faced enormous embarrassment for two of its appointees to very important government’s positions, namely businessman Robert Gerald to the Aussie Reserve Bank board and Professor Ian Harper to the Fair Pay Commission.
Due to the controversies, Gerald has resigned from the Reserve Bank board.
The Howard government has also been losing support because of its new but very unpopular Industrial Relations law. Matters didn't improve when the public learnt that the Treasurer had already received a report from his own Treasury, prior to the new laws, that low income earners would be worse off under the new laws, contrary to what the Howard governmenet had promised.
John Howard has been known to throw provocative red herrings on a number of occasions, which aimed at marshalling back slipping support for his government.