Tony Abbott reignites the history wars

Matthew Franklin & Patricia Karvelas; 5/5/10

Tony Abbott has sparked a fresh battle in the so-called history wars by arguing that Australian history has rarely seen discrimination based on race or culture. Echoing former prime minister John Howard, the Opposition Leader also rejected the “black armband view” of history, praising Howard-era border security policies as “tough but effective” and vowing to reinstate them if he wins this year’s election. But his comments on racism were rejected as unrealistic by Aboriginal Social Justice Commissioner Mick Gooda, while the Federation of Ethnic Communities Councils of Australia accused him of promoting public fears about immigration for political reasons. The Howard era featured lively debate about the past, with the history wars dividing the nation between those who endorsed Mr Howard’s belief that people were being taught a “black armband view” of the past and those who favoured a critical view of the nation’s heritage.