Howard’s New Fascist Australia is seeking to become a ‘new’ kind of fascism. In pursuit of this ‘new’ fascism Howard cleverly transcends the stereotyped images of the ‘old’ discredited fascism of the 1920s, 1930s and 1940s.
The ‘new’ fascism denies emphatically that it is ‘fascist’, an association which would immediately discredit it. The right-wing Howard-supporting media therefore, attempt to deflect fascist name-calling from the Left by belittling the notion using various countering techniques, including pointing out that fascism had its roots in the ideology of the Left, an argument that the commentator Andrew Bolt of the Herald Sun in November 2005 used to counter the increasing observation that, indeed, Howard was becoming ‘fascist’. He wrote: “Calling Prime Minister John Howard a fascist has become quite chic…” and then went on to demean Bob Brown, Gough Whitlam, and Paul Keating, accusing them of all having ‘fascist’-like tendencies after having pointed out that Hitler’s and Mussolini’s beginnings were, as Bolt asserts, ‘socialist’. Other right-wing Howard-supporting commentators use other forms of rhetorical countering techniques.
Gerard Henderson, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, uses the simple device of comparison, whereby he infers that Australia is not becoming ‘fascist’ because, “Real fascist societies, as in Italy under Mussolini and Germany under Hitler, had authoritarian regimes which possessed a state ideology enforced by terror or the threat of terror.”
In a similar article over a year earlier, Henderson attacked the notion of Australia becoming a fascist state from a slightly different perspective which included the patronising invocation of the memory of those that suffered under fascism. In his August 2004 article ‘Fascist Australia’ he writes, “To suggest Australia… today [is] fascist is just, well, nuts. The use of such a label in a modern context indicates a total misunderstanding of both democracy and fascism – and has the unintended consequence of diminishing the memory of fascism’s many victims.”
Keith Windschuttle, the rightwing historian, attacks the accusations that Australia is heading toward fascism from yet another perspective – comparison to that of the overt kind of fascism often seen in Europe. In the 2005 Earle Page Memorial Oration, delivered at Parliament House, Sydney, on 22 June 2005, he told his audience:
"Australia in recent decades has never experienced skinheads or any other right- wing hoodlums intimidating political opponents with violence. Indeed, the only political meetings broken up have been those of the populist nationalist Pauline Hanson, where the perpetrators were not skinheads but long-haired, left-wing university students. To portray Howard as a neo-fascist is not only factually inaccurate but literally absurd."
Windschuttle’s reluctance to mention that Pauline Hanson’s ‘populist nationalism’ was in itself a form of fascism merely exposes Windschuttle’s own polemics.
Since it denies actually being fascist is also the reason why it does not have the trappings, at least not overtly, of what one might usually associate with fascism. For example, there are no massed parades of black uniformed soldiers, no grossly oversized flags hanging vertically in neat rows from government buildings, there are no brown leather-coated men at every railway station, bus depot and airport asking to see ‘your papers please’ – or at least not yet there isn’t.
Howard’s New Fascism doesn’t revolve around himself; he has no desire to be a ‘dictator’ per se. He does, however, wish to establish on a permanent basis, a political structure coexisting in and hybridising our existing system, within which the vision of his New Fascist Australia can be perpetuated. As commentator Tony Kevin observes: “His [Howard’s] rule is steadily degrading the values of our society and corrupting its political institutions. The longer he stays in power, the more the checks and balances of our society will crumble. We will continue our slow slide towards an Australian model of fascism”.
Howard’s vision is for a regionally strong and influential antipodean, essentially white-European Christian dominated nation that predominately is corporatist in economic structure and where its inhabitants are strongly encouraged to participate in the machinations of that corporatist economic structure. A nation where those that, for whatever reason, are unable or unwilling to participate are both marginalised from the system and demonised as being somehow inadequate and of little worth and therefore only worthy of being kept at barely subsistence levels.
Part of the process of creating the New Fascist Australia involves projecting the notion of a primarily white-European Christian dominant society where non-Christian values, particularly and especially those of Islam, are demonised in order to create a climate of fear within which a compliant population is nurtured and polarised toward a pro-Christian value that sees other religious and/or cultural values as being abhorrent or, at least, marginalised.
As the process evolves toward his New Fascist Australia, Howard seeks to strengthen Australia’s armed forces not just in order to defend Australia’s shores but also with weapons and equipment that will allow him to project Australia’s power and assert hegemony well beyond Australia’s shores and into, when deemed necessary, other nations within Australia’s region.
Part of this process also includes the mythologising of Australia’s military heritage and the cultivation of a militarist attitude among Australia’s youth via the promise of a career in its armed forces which could follow on from an armed forces cadetship.
Howard’s close relationship with President Bush in the light of the events of and after 9/11 has served Howard’s purpose well in terms of providing closer ties in trade and defence with a nation that has a similar predominantly European heritage and political outlook.
Australians and our neighbours, quite rightly, should be aware of Howard’s drive toward fascism and recognise it for what it is before it is too late to reverse the process. Howard’s march toward a New Fascist Australia is slow but insidious. Only last week new laws were introduced to allow ASIO and the police unfettered powers to tap innocent Australians’ phones, email and text messages. Following this is the push to have an ID card issued to Australians, ostensibly for the purposes of Medicare and welfare, but clearly a back-door attempt, yet again, to introduce a form of universal Aussiecard designed to keep tabs on the Australian people. The treasurer, Peter Costello, has put his support behind the push arguing, quite blatantly, “…that anti-terrorism security measures had made people more tolerant of intrusions into their privacy,” demonstrating clearly how the New Fascism’s creation of fear via the so-called ‘War against Terrorism’ then, in turn, allows them to dismantle even more of our rights, in this case, to privacy.
It is this insidiousness that is the most illusory aspect of Howard’s New Fascist Australia. It is foisted on us a piece at a time and we are lied to about the reasons or necessity for the new law or changes. Sometimes it is so insidious that even those that profess to be leftish are unable to see what is going on before their eyes. There are even some elements within the Labor party that now support many of the steps that Howard has taken having been deluded into believing that these measures are, indeed, ‘for your protection’.
 Andrew Bolt, ‘Fascism puts Left foot forward’, Herald Sun, 25 November 2005. Available online: http://www.heraldsun.news.com.au/printpage/0,5481,17360614,00.html Accessed 15 February 2006.
 Gerard Henderson, ‘The Rise of Fascism as an Easy Insult’, Sydney Morning Herald, 6 December 2005. Available online: http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/the-rise-of-fascism-as-an-easy-insult/2005/12/05/1133631200859.html Accessed 15 February 2006.
 Gerard Henderson, ‘Fascist Australia’, The Age, 24 August 2004. Available online: http://www.theage.com.au/articles/2004/08/23/1093246439313.html?oneclick=true Accessed 15 February 2006.
 Keith Windschuttle, ‘Vilifying Australia: The perverse ideology of our adversary culture’, 2005 Earle Page Memorial Oration, delivered at Parliament House, Sydney, on 22 June 2005. Available online: http://www.sydneyline.com/Vilifying%20Australia.htm Accessed 15 February 2006.
 Tony Kevin, ‘Howard’s 10 years – An alternative political analysis’, 2 March 2006. Available online:
http://www.tonykevin.com/Howards10Years.html Accessed 21 March 2006.
 ‘New phone tap powers passed’, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 March 2006. Available online:
http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/new-phonetap-powers-passed/2006/03/30/1143441264268.html Accessed 3 April 2006.
 Mark Metherell, ‘ID cards an issue of tolerance: Costello’, Sydney Morning Herald, 30 March 2006. Available online: http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/id-cards-an-issue-of-tolerance-costello/2006/03/29/1143441215877.html Accessed 3 April 2006.
 ‘For your protection’ is a slogan that can be seen on the back of a police van in the recently released film “V for Vendetta” depicting life in a futuristic fascist Britain.