The contest of ideas

Hosted by UNSW Canberra, the Howard Library houses more than 10,000 items of personal papers, official records, political memorabilia, photographs and documents from John Howard’s political career, from 1974 to 2007.

In keeping with the philosophy of his close friend and mentor, politician Sir John Carrick, John Howard views politics as a contest of ideas and values and sees the purpose of this collection as being a place that highlights the challenges and priorities of his government.

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1996 — Gun Buy-Back Scheme

“I don't think there's any reason on Earth why people should have access to automatic and semiautomatic weapons unless they're in the military or in the police.”

A gunman killed 35 people at Port Arthur, Tasmania. Twelve days later, Prime Minister John Howard announced a scheme for uniform gun laws throughout Australia. A buy-back of privately owned guns was funded by a special levy on taxpayers.

2000 — introduction of the gst

“We’re doing it because it is the right thing for the nation.”

A goods and services tax was introduced as part of the Howard Government’s tax reform program aimed at redressing the effects of declining revenue from income tax.

2003 — War on Iraq

“I don't believe sitting on the sidelines is either good for Australia nor do I believe it has ever really been the Australian way.”

In March 2003, Australia joined the US-led ‘Multinational force in Iraq’ in sending 2000 troops and naval units to support in the invasion of Iraq.

John Howard - The Man

John Howard - The Man

Committed Liberal. “Man of Steel”. Champion of ideas. Sporting tragic.

Explore John Howard’s life before, during and after his career in politics.


"I fully accept that Australians will have different opinions of my government's performance and of my leadership, but these views and assessments will be more compelling and persuasive when based on public records as well as media reporting and political commentary."