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John Howard Attacks History Curriculum In Warrane Lecture

The former Prime Minister, John Howard, has again criticised the teaching of history during a lecture at the University of New South Wales.


He repeatedly returned to the question of history teaching during his lecture. At one point he lamented the teaching of Kylie Minogue and ACDC in preference to economic globalisation. He also claimed the rise and fall of Soviet communism was not catered for in the Australian curriculum.

Howard said the curriculum did not require students to study Australia history from the late 18th century until 1914. He said the achievement of Federation was overlooked and that important reforms, such as the granting women the right to vote, were understated. History devolved too much into issues rather than focussing on what actually occurred.

Howard warned against expecting continuous economic growth in China. He said he was an optimist about Australia’s economic future but that the nation had “gone to sleep” on the reform process. He said he worried about the challenge to the ideas of Western civilisation and the Judeo-Christian ethic, and warned against a secular society that marginalised the influence of religion.

The former Liberal leader said the key to political leadership was a sense of conviction and belief. He said he took comfort from people who said: “I can’t stand Howard but at least I know what he stands for.”

Howard’s remarks came during his delivery of the Warrane Lecture at Warrane College, an independent residential college for men, at the University of New South Wales.

During a question and answer session, Howard declined to “speculate on the speculation” about the deficit levy. He said there was “a straight line from the tsars to Vladimir Putin”, who was trying to “gobble up” the Ukraine.

Other questions covered same-sex marriage, section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act, Paul Keating, history teaching, balancing parenthood with a political career, and manufacturing industry.

  • Listen to Howard’s lecture (32m)
  • Listen to Howard respond to questions (48m)
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Malcolm Farnsworth
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