Was John Howard our best Prime Minister ever? 27



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John Howard has been voted Australia’s best prime minister of the modern era, whilst Bob Hawke and Gough Whitlam trailed just behind. The results have prompted an interesting discussion about who the country’s wisest leaders have been.

According to a survey conducted by Essential Research, and published by The Australian, thirty-four per cent of voters judged Howard as the best PM since 1972. Bob Hawke earned 13% of the vote, whilst Gough Whitlam claimed 10%.

In contrast, Tony Abbott was the “worst” prime minister earning just 2% of the popular vote. Our current PM, Malcolm Turnbull, was only favoured by 3% of the Australians surveyed.

This is the fourth time that John Howard has been ranked as the best prime minister of recent decades. Paul Keating, Kevin Rudd and Malcolm Fraser rated amongst the pack’s middle.

Australia’s only female prime minister, Julia Gillard, earned just 6% of the popularity rating. In fact, far more women preferred John Howard – with 34% of women voting him Australia’s best PM.

However, some everyday Aussies feel that a more pertinent question would be, “What makes a great Prime Minister?” The answer could help our country foster better leaders for the future.

As one man wrote online, “I’m not convinced that people’s ratings of Prime Ministers are worth much in one sense, because frequently they’re based on personality or ideology or just gut feelings”.

Who do you think was Australia’s best prime minister? What makes a great leader?

Starts at 60 Writers

The Starts at 60 writers team seek out interesting topics and write them especially for you.

  1. Kevin Rudd because not only did he have a sincere heart as evidenced during the bush fires and on other occasions but he knew what it meant to be poor, having been evicted along with his mum from their rented property when his father died, along with his father’s income plus he & Theresa started off with a small loan of only $10,000 from the Commonwealth Bank to commence their life together, becoming very successful the hard way. He also agonised over the Economic Stimulus Package (as denoted by his advisors at the time), resulting in Australia virtually bypassing the Global Recession. Sadly he was not PM for long to be able to demonstrate what he could have achieved with more time at the helm!

    4 REPLY
    • Do not agree at all,he was all about self interest .

      1 REPLY
      • When Rudd was 11, his father, a share farmer and Country Party member, died. Rudd states that the family was required to leave the farm amidst financial difficulty between two to three weeks after the death, though the family of the landowner states that the Rudds didn’t have to leave for almost six months.
        Shows how the press can be sucked in to anything the Politicians, or any one in the lime light, wants them to believe, then We are suppose to believe it with out question.
        So much for being evicted from the farm, it is a lie as most of the stuff he went on about was, I agree he was just there for Him not the country or the people that voted him he liked getting his face on camera and was murder to work for. He was disrespectful and self serving.

    • We are still paying back Kevin Dudds debt,
      It gets bigger by the day, when will Labour learn, it is not government money it is taxpayers,who worked for it.
      That “givaway” was way over the top, very bad for Australia, it’s going to be painfull !

  2. They where all crap.for various reasons .because we are divided into groups ,mothers with children, money hungry,morons,shorted,thick heads,intolerant,raseist,idilogs,so how do we get a prime minister if this is what parties put foward as a leader,I want to vote for a leader not one thrown up from the ranks as described.

  3. One thing I liked about John Howard was his pouncing on the gun laws in the aftermath of the Port Arthur massacre.
    He didn’t hesitate, he moved immediately and he made it happen. Those who are entitled to guns – lawmakers, army et al, farmers, and those for whom guns are their livelihood – can still obtain them after stringent checks. Our police where I live check every registered gun in our area every two years and woe betide the owner who can’t account for his weapons or has them in an unsafe place.

    True – the criminals still get their hands on guns and I am not naive enough to believe that every gun was handed in or that they can’t get into the country somehow. However – and this will probably get me into trouble – there are a lot of stabbings now because the perpetrators can’t get their hands on guns and cause even more mayhem. Stabbing is just as horrible and results in deaths – but can you imagine what would happen if these perpetrators could get their hands on a high powered rifle?

    We will never be able to stop the use of firearms completely, but at least we can live in relative safety and be pretty sure that the local supermarket (unlike those in the USA) doesn’t have a red circle with a revolver in the middle covered by a cross giving the message not to bring your gun with you when you go shopping. Nor will you drive down the motorway and spot a huge shed in a nearby paddock with enormous letters across the roof – “Jesus loves you. Get your guns here!”

  4. The mere fact that this was run by “the Australian” a very biased liberal leaning news rag would turn me off any survey that they publish.

    2 REPLY
    • It wasn’t run by the Australian. It was run by a company called Essential Research, and published by The Australian

    • Wouldn’t trust anything that right wing conservative rag had to say I NEVER read it. Now it doesn’t even pretend to be unbiased. As for Howard he took all the economic credit for managing and creating Australias’ wealth during his term when in fact it was the Chinese economy boiling its socks off and creating a resources boom. In point of fact even Peter Costello gave Paul Keating the credit for the success of the Australian economy as he floated the dollar and created compulsory superannuation (now worth trillions) among other things and catapulted the Australian economy into the stratosphere. Let’s not forget that Howard did not support pensioners, education the arts and health to name a few and all those sectors were being suffocated for insufficient funds. John Howard was the consummate player of politics but he only had one constituency The Big End of Town and they flourished under his dictatorship. As this survey was conducted by the unAustraian it has no legitimacy.

  5. It’s an interesting discussion . From a family who votes both Labor and Liberal depending upon the policies and leadership I would say the survey is correct . Interestingly, I am finding in our family it is the younger generation who without direct experience of Howard , Hawke or Keating are strongly Howard inclining . The shambolic Labor phase of Rudd and Gillard was damaging to confidence in leadership generally and cited as a reason for these opinions and now the Liberals are playing the same game! Ciao

  6. Gough Whitlam radically changed the social structure of Australia – and very much for the better. For that reason, even though his term was so short, I would vote him the best Prime Minister as he produced long lasting benefits.

    Younger people don’t realise the massive extent of the changes he made to bring Australia into the modern world.

    Other than the gun laws, I don’t think Howard was a particularly good Prime Minister. Australia was in a boom period and therefore very well off so it was fairly easy to accrue a lot of money.

    I agree with Alek, the pole was run by “The Australian”, a notoriously right wing newspaper, so its readers would naturally be inclined towards Howard.

    1 REPLY
    • For the average employed blue-collar worker in Australia, Whitlam with his buddy Crean, destroyed the economic status of Australia and his efforts saw the % of income taxes paid by the workforce which he was purportedly representing more than double.
      Yes he made changes – he caused a productive Australia to become a consumer society and this was reinforced by a host of social polly’s who only oiled the squeaky wheels rather than the long term view.
      Howard was the first responsible PM since Menzies to show any backbone. Though I must say that he stayed in for too long but this was probably more to do with his trepidation of what Costello would do rather than ego).

  7. Glad to see Abbott last, but I’d put Howard just a whisker behind him.

  8. John Howard, you serious, when he took over from Keating the economy was rated at number six in the world, when Rudd took over it had slipped to 10th, even with the mining boom, when Julia and Rudd gave it to Abbort and the nutters it was the best performing economy in the world, didn’t take those illiterates long to ruin everything, the Libs have a history of bad management, the Australian, who reads that rubbish anyway, ? when Howard got punted and lost his own seat as well the voters were ready to tar and feather him…. At least they got the present mob in the right order…

  9. You are joking—He was the start of the great Australian sell of–It wont be stopped now!!!!

  10. John Howard was a dull, boring little man who sucked up to GWBush and became complicit in the war crimes in Iraq, Afghanistan. He should be treated as a war criminal.
    He puffed out when GWBush offered to make him his ‘deputy sheriff’ in thePacific. Everyone else fell about laughing.
    John Howard was an international embarrassment.
    To suggest that he was a great Prime Minister is an insult to the greatness and statesmanship of Chifley, Lyons, Whitlam.

    2 REPLY
    • John Howard was the best. But by many of the comments here, your readers are very left leaning

    • I totally agree with you, he should be convicted of war crimes.

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