The Russian translation for 'man of steel' is 'Stalin', somewhat ironic really in terms of political colours, but perhaps rather apt in light of little Johney's love of war, his '1984' Big Brother ASIO legislation, his belief in the forceful assimilation of ethnic minorities and his intolerance of all dissenting views.

'MAN OF STEEL' John Howard boosts political power - 27th June 2005 Daily Times - Pakistan

CANBERRA: Australian Prime Minister John Howard, labelled a "man of steel" by US President George W Bush, is this week poised to become the most powerful politician in Australia in a quarter of a century.

Thanks to his thumping election victory last October, Howard on July 1 will wrest control of the upper-house Senate from the opposition and minor parties to become the first prime minister since 1981 to control both houses of Australia's Parliament.

That gives Howard an historic opportunity to pass his conservative government's agenda without compromise or amendment, prompting accusations from retiring Senators that Australia's democracy will now be subject to the will of one man.

"We are heading into an era of elected dictatorship, unless all Senators in this place stand up, speak up, lobby and vote according to their consciences," independent senator Meg Lees, whose term ends on June 30, said in her farewell speech.

Howard, however, wrapped up a weekend conference of his ruling Liberal Party yesterday by telling supporters he would not abuse his new power, which would be used sensibly.

"We won't use it capriciously, wantonly or indiscriminately, and I make that solemn promise on your behalf to all of the Australian people," Howard told his party.

Howard is a close friend and ally of Bush, who named the Australian leader a "man of steel" for Australia's steadfast support for the war in Iraq and the war on terror.

His Liberal Party, which rules in coalition with the rural-based National Party, romped to its fourth straight victory at last October's election. Senators elected last October take their seats from July 1 this year, giving Howard a one-seat majority in the senate when parliament resumes in August.


Among those who lost their Senate seats were Australia's only Aboriginal politician Aden Ridgeway and the last siting member of the One Nation party, founded by the firebrand politician Pauline Hanson to push an anti-Asian immigration platform.

Analyst Nick Economou, from Melbourne's Monash University, said Australian governments controlled the Senate from 1955 to 1972, and again from 1975 through to 1981, but did not realise the importance of upper-house control.

"The senate was looked on as a sort of cosy, dopey chamber where you sent party loyalists for retirement before they fell off he twig," Economou said.

Howard has long complained that former conservative Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser did not do enough to reform Australia when his government controlled the Senate between 1975 and 1981 something Howard is determined not to repeat.

Howard has nominated labour market reforms and laws for the sale of the government's 51.8 per cent stake in phone giant Telstra, worth $A34 billion ($NZ37 billion), as priorities when parliament resumes in August.


But dissent within the government in the past month over the tough immigration detention laws, and public lobbying within the government for more tax cuts ahead of the May budget, indicates Howard might not get everything his own way.

The weekend Liberal Party conference rebuffed Howard on his push to take national control of labour laws, while the National Party, under new leader Mark Vaile, remains uneasy about the Telstra sale until phone services in country areas improve.

Economou said while Howard was at the height of his political powers, he would still have to make deals, particularly with the National Party which will have five seats in the Senate and which will be determined to win benefits for its rural constituency.

"I just don't think Howard will have complete control. He will have to use his undoubted political skills, this time with the Nationals," he said.

Howard, meanwhile, told the Liberal Party conference he would not waste his historic opportunity.

"I will never want it said of a government I lead that it missed the opportunity of a majority in the Senate to do some things that we could never otherwise do," he said.

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