Howard’s dog whistle

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Howard’s dog whistle is still being heavily used by Tony Abbott.

johnhowarddogwhistle(Image from: 101 uses for a John Howard.com)

“Howard is whistling in wind”, by Paul Syvret The Courier-Mail 17 April 07

Dog whistles are clever devices. They emit a high-pitched tone beyond the range of human hearing, but one that dogs’ more sensitive ears can easily detect. In short, they send a message only to those pre-programmed to receive and respond.

Prime Minister John Howard has quite a collection of these whistles—finely tuned instruments designed to bore into the brains of certain sections of the Australian voting public. If you listen hard right now you can just hear them—a discordant tweeting noise at the very fringe of the political spectrum. There’s a special whistle for whipping up fear of trade unions, another for multiculturalism, one for “the Aboriginal industry” and an orchestra of whistles for summoning forth fear and votes over national security and immigration.

They are Howard’s alarm and divide tools. The latest inharmonious tune coming from the wind section in Howard’s Government is an oldie but a goodie-a classic hit from the past decade of our discontent.

Immigration is always a favourite, with the fear and unease used to justify humanitarian abominations such as children locked behind razor wire and asylum seekers processed at God-forsaken gulags such as the detention centre on Nauru. We’ve already heard the number about the nasty illegal immigrants who toss children overboard, we’ve played the tune about the armada of asylum seekers sailing through our northern waters, and we’ve sung the song about the ingrate “towel-heads” who refuse to assimilate into our culture.

Now the variant is the faceless hordes of disease-ridden dispossessed who want to come here and spread their sickness. It is only Howard and our brave Immigration and Customs officials standing between Australia and the Grim Reaper. We’re talking AIDS here—or more specifically those people living with the human immune-deficiency virus, or HIV. Last week, Howard argued that HIV-positive people should be banned from migrating to Australia in all but the most exceptional of circumstances. “My initial reaction is no (they should not be allowed in),” he said. “There may be some humanitarian considerations that could temper that in certain cases but prima facie, no.” …

It’s the dog whistle, you see.