Today, we mark the 80th birthday of the Hon. John Howard, former Prime Minister of Australia (1996-2007) and longest-serving Chairman of the International Democrat Union (2002-2014).
John Howard was a Member of the Parliament of Australia for an incredible 33 years, and held a wide array of ministerial positions. He was also twice Leader of the Liberal Party of Australia (1985-1989 and 1995-2007). Through his four consecutive election victories (1996, 1998, 2001, 2004), he became the second-longest-serving prime minister in Australian history, behind only the great Robert Menzies. His tenure transformed the economy of Australia, with the growth of those years being some of the most spectacular in Australia’s history.
As Chairman of the International Democrat Union, John Howard saw himself in the political tradition of two of the IDU’s key founders, Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher and President Ronald Reagan. It was his conviction that “countries can only develop their full potential if they develop recognizing the ideals of liberal democracy, freedom of the individual, and the need for economic growth (…) based on individual initiative and free, competitive enterprise economies.”
In his long career, John Howard provided a model of the kind of conservative governance that remains essential today. He demonstrated that globalization and inclusive growth, like national pride and cultural diversity, can and must go together. As a member of the IDU’s Honorary Advisory Board, he remains closely connected to the global family of the centre-right and a mentor to many of our leaders around the world, myself included.
We wish to thank John Howard for his long service of exceptional conservative leadership. And we wish him all the best today and for many years to come.
Rt. Hon. Stephen Harper
Chairman, International Democrat Union
22nd Prime Minister of Canada