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Petitioning Dr Michael Spence

Sydney University - No honorary degree for John Howard!

This Friday, the former prime minister, John Howard, will be presented with an honorary doctorate by the University of Sydney. Howard’s period in government (1996-2007) was marked by a sharp escalation in racism (Tampa affair; Pacific Solution for asylum seekers; Northern Territory Intervention) and militarism (participation in the invasion of Iraq), to say nothing of an assault on the independence of university research (the so called ‘history’ wars), and attacks on university funding. Its mainstreaming of far-right politics laid the foundations for the success of One Nation, which today has four seats in the Senate.

John Howard is not a fit recipient of the university’s highest honour. To confer a doctorate on him is an insult to anyone opposed to war, racism and social exclusion, and committed to multiculturalism, peace and social progress in Ausralia and in the world. Howard’s jingoistic, divisive and reactionary politics are directly responsible for the widening fractures in our society, starkly revealed just last week by the Essential Poll that found that 49 percent of Australians support a ban on Muslim immigration.

We condemn the decision to confer a doctorate on Howard, and call on Dr Michael Spence, the Vice-Chancellor, and Ms Belinda Hutchinson, the Chancellor, no longer to proceed with this scandalous award.

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  • Dr Michael Spence

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