Brian Howe (politician)

Brian Leslie Howe AO (born 28 January 1936) is a retired Australian politician and Uniting Church minister. He served as the eighth deputy prime minister of Australia and the deputy leader of the Labor Party from 1991 to 1995, under Bob Hawke and Paul Keating. He was a government minister continuously from 1983 to 1996, and a member of the House of Representatives from 1977 to 1996, representing the Division of Batman in Victoria.

Brian Howe
Howe in 1994
Deputy Prime Minister of Australia
In office
3 June 1991 – 20 June 1995
Prime MinisterBob Hawke
Paul Keating
Preceded byPaul Keating
Succeeded byKim Beazley
Deputy Leader of the Labor Party
In office
3 June 1991 – 20 June 1995
LeaderBob Hawke
Paul Keating
Preceded byPaul Keating
Succeeded byKim Beazley
Minister for Regional Development
In office
25 March 1994 – 11 March 1996
Prime MinisterPaul Keating
Preceded byPeter Cook
Succeeded byJohn Sharp
Minister for Local Government
In office
24 March 1993 – 25 March 1994
Prime MinisterPaul Keating
Preceded byDavid Simmons
Succeeded byWarwick Smith
Minister for Housing
In office
7 May 1990 – 11 March 1996
Prime MinisterBob Hawke
Paul Keating
Preceded byPeter Staples
Succeeded byTanya Plibersek (2007)
Minister for Community Services
In office
4 April 1990 – 25 March 1994
Prime MinisterBob Hawke
Paul Keating
Preceded byNeal Blewett
Succeeded byCarmen Lawrence
Minister for Health
In office
4 April 1990 – 24 March 1993
Prime MinisterBob Hawke
Paul Keating
Preceded byNeal Blewett
Succeeded byGraham Richardson
Minister for Social Security
In office
13 December 1984 – 4 April 1990
Prime MinisterBob Hawke
Preceded byDon Grimes
Succeeded byGraham Richardson
Minister for Defence Support
In office
11 March 1983 – 13 December 1984
Prime MinisterBob Hawke
Preceded byIan Viner
Member of the Australian Parliament
for Batman
In office
10 December 1977 – 29 January 1996
Preceded byHorrie Garrick
Succeeded byMartin Ferguson
Personal details
Born (1936-01-28) 28 January 1936 (age 88)
Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Political partyLabor
SpouseRenate Howe
Alma materUniversity of Melbourne
OccupationPolitician, Christian minister

Early life edit

Howe was born in Melbourne. He grew up in the suburb of Malvern and attended Melbourne High School, going on to complete a Bachelor of Arts and a diploma in criminology at the University of Melbourne. He later moved to the United States to study at McCormick Theological Seminary in Chicago. Howe was the minister at a Methodist church in Fitzroy from 1961 to 1969, while lecturing part-time in sociology.[1] He remains an ordained Uniting Church minister.[2]

In the early 1970s, Howe was the founding director of the Centre for Urban Research and Action (CURA).[3] This model of research and action was based on his experience studying in Chicago from 1965 to 1967, and particularly his involvement in the civil rights and anti-poverty movements. CURA participated in campaigns against major changes in inner city Melbourne, including homelessness, the demolition of housing for high-rise estates, freeway construction. It supported the rights of tenants, the marginalisation of ethnic groups, and the provision of social services.[4]

Politics edit

Howe was elected to the House of Representatives at the 1977 federal election, representing the northern Melbourne metropolitan electoral Division of Batman. He defeated the incumbent Horrie Garrick for Labor preselection in a hard-fought preselection contest.[5] It was reportedly the first occasion on which an incumbent Victorian Labor MP in a safe seat was defeated for preselection.[6] A member of the Socialist Left faction of the Labor Party, Howe was Minister for Defence Support in the government of Bob Hawke from 1983. In 1984 he became Minister for Social Security and carried out various radical reforms[which?] to Australia's welfare system.[7]

Howe appeared to face significant opposition within his electorate in 1988, when up to 60 members of the Greek Westgarth branch of the ALP defected to join the Australian Democrats. One of the defectors, tram-conductor George Gogas, contested Batman as a Democrat candidate in 1990, but polled only 12.9 per cent of the vote.[8]

After the 1990 election Howe was appointed to the post of Minister for Community Services and Health. When Paul Keating resigned from the cabinet in 1991, Howe was elected deputy leader of the Labor Party in his place, defeating Graeme Campbell in a caucus ballot by 81 votes to 18.[9] He was subsequently appointed Deputy Prime Minister.

As well as succeeding Keating as Deputy Prime Minister, Howe was a minister who was qualified to succeed Keating as Treasurer as Howe as a minister had been a member of the Expenditure Review Committee since 1987. [10] However the position of Treasurer went instead to John Kerin.

Howe continued as Deputy Prime Minister when Keating became Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Howe became Minister for Health, Housing and Community Services in the Keating government in December 1991, dropping the health part of the portfolio in 1993. In June 1995 he resigned as Deputy Prime Minister and was succeeded by Kim Beazley. He remained in the House of Representatives and as a minister until the 1996 election.

Howe's last months in the Deputy PM's role were marked by speculation that his successor would be, not Beazley, but Carmen Lawrence, the erstwhile Premier of Western Australia. At the time Lawrence enjoyed considerable popularity, and there were those in the ALP who hoped that with her as Deputy PM, the Keating government (then doing badly in the opinion polls) would benefit. This hope was dashed when Lawrence herself became the subject of a royal commission around the time Howe left the post, although she denied that the royal commission had been her reason for not seeking out the job. Kim Beazley was eventually elected as his successor.[11]

Contribution edit

Howe was an extremely active Minister with a strong sense of social justice. Radical reforms were implemented in social security, disability and other areas during his term of office.[2][12]

Social security edit

In February 1986 Howe instigated the Cass Social Security Review,[13] which led to substantive restructuring of the social security system. Some of the most important changes were[14]

  • providing positive incentives to reducing welfare dependence, especially education and training
  • guaranteed indexation of benefits to cost-of-living
  • ongoing monitoring and evaluation of all programmes
  • removal of gender-based eligibility for payments
  • rationalisation and fortnightly payments of most benefits.

The most important new payments were:

  • Family Allowance Supplement, which eventually incorporated all child-related programmes with far higher rates of payment than previously, and which incorporated Rent Allowance when applicable
  • Jobsearch and Newstart, which replaced unemployment benefits and which required regular evidence of search for work.

Disability policy edit

Howe’s tenure as Minister for Community Services from 1990-1994 coincided with a reorientation of disability policy to encourage disabled people to enter or remain in the formal workforce, enhancing and protecting the rights of people with disabilities and providing opportunities for them to contribute to wider society.[15]

In 1991, Brian Howe was the responsible minister for the Disability Reform Package. which modified Commonwealth income support payments for people with disabilities to encourage their integration into the workforce. The package contained a large shift in emphasis toward 'open employment' as opposed to the existing special employment programs. Open Employment Services subsequently offered intensive and ongoing support to secure work for disabled people in the open market.[15]

The first Commonwealth State Disability Agreement (CSDA) in 1991 clarified the roles and responsibilities of the governments. The Commonwealth was given responsibility for income support and employment services and the States and Territories were given responsibility for accommodation and other support services.[16] According to Lindsay (1995),[17] the 1991 agreement provided no extra resources and merely reaffirmed the status quo; but it did set in place a permanent mechanism whereby disability policy could be advanced.

Howe also introduced the Disability Discrimination Act 1992, which made disability discrimination unlawful and promoted equal rights, equal opportunity and equal access for people with disabilities.[18][19] The Act empowered a Disability Discrimination Commissioner.[20]

In 1994 the Commonwealth Disability Strategy set in place a consultative ten-year framework of action for Commonwealth departments and agencies to remove any barriers or discrimination in employment and program delivery.[21]

Health edit

In health policy, Howe established the National Mental Health Strategy, which included the 1992 mental health policy and allocated $269 million for implementation.[22]

The Commonwealth Dental Scheme arose out of a 1992 Health Strategy background paper.[23] It provided for free dental care for financially disadvantaged adults from 1994, but was terminated on 1 January 1997 by the Howard government.[24]

Housing and urban policy edit

Howe supported an edge-city concept of locational disadvantage, where people on the edge of cities were supposed to be poorer and more disadvantaged than others with better access to services,[25][26] and commissioned 17 case studies intended to demonstrate this.[27] However the initiative was discontinued when it was shown definitively that the inner cities contained the areas of greatest disadvantage.

The main innovation by Howe in the urban sector was the Building Better Cities Programme (BBC), the first federal venture into urban development since the Whitlam government, and Australia's first submissions-based capital assistance programme. The Commonwealth government supplied $816.4 million over five years for 'demonstration' projects meeting its urban objectives. From 1991, State and local governments could submit capital projects for consideration. The Programme supported projects variously redeveloping inner city precincts, constructing and refurbishing housing, building and upgrading railways and transport interchanges, new light rail systems, new water management infrastructure, as well as developing under-used government land. The incoming Howard government in 1996 discontinued the Programme.[28]

In 1992 Howe initiated Australia's first Housing Strategy, led by Meredith Edwards AM.[29] The Strategy had no effect on housing policy, unlike the Staples Review that preceded it in 1988.[30] It did recommend the establishment of an Australian Housing and Urban Research Institute, which Howe founded in 1993 and which is still operating in 2022.

Later life edit

Following Howe's departure from parliament, he became Schultz Visiting Professor at the Princeton University. He was then appointed by Melbourne University as a Professorial Fellow in the Centre for Public Policy.[2] He taught postgraduate students, worked on several research projects, authored three books and published many articles. He organised two major international conferences in Melbourne on changing labour markets and their implications for Australian social policy. He received a visiting fellowship at the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs at Princeton University in 1997 and 1998.[3]

In 2012 he chaired the ACTU Independent Inquiry into Insecure Work in Australia.[31] He spoke widely about the issue to the media and addressed the National Press Club.[32]

In 2017 Howe and his wife Renata were the subject of a documentary podcast interview by the Fitzroy History Society Oral History Project covering their early years of activism in the 1960s.[33]

He served on the board of the Brotherhood of St Laurence and the Patrons Council of the Epilepsy Foundation of Victoria. He was a founding director of the Australia and New Zealand School of Government; and was chairman of the Victorian Disability Housing Trust and the community housing association Housing Choices Australia.[2]

Honours edit

Howe was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in January 2001,[34] and promoted to Officer level (AO) in January 2008.[35] He received an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Sydney in 2015.[2]

Publications edit

  • Howe, B (1997). Weighing Up Australian Values: Balancing Transitions and Risks to Work Family in Modern Australia. University of New South Wales Press.
  • Howe, B and Hughes, P (eds) (2003). Religion in Citizenship and National Life. ATF Press.
  • Howe, B and Postma, M (eds) (2002). The Church and the Free Market: Dilemmas in Church Welfare Agencies Accepting Contracts from Government. ATF Press.

Notes edit

  1. ^ "Long Howe innings had had success". The Canberra Times. 21 June 1995.
  2. ^ a b c d e "The Rev the Hon Professor Brian Howe AO. Doctor of Social Work" (PDF). University of Sydney. 23 October 2015. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  3. ^ a b "Reverend the Hon Professor Brian Howe AO – Citation for Honorary Doctor of Letters" (PDF). University of Melbourne. 30 October 2015. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  4. ^ Howe, Renate. "Centre for Urban Research and Action". eMelbourne – The Encyclopedia of Melbourne Online. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  5. ^ Lyle Allan (1978), "Ethnic Politics – Migrant Organization and the Victorian ALP", Ethnic Studies Vol. 2, No. 2, p. 27.
  6. ^ "Upset in ALP pre-selection in Victoria". The Canberra Times. 25 October 1976.
  7. ^ "Biography for Howe, the Hon. Brian Leslie". ParlInfo Web. Parliament of Australia. Archived from the original on 15 September 2007. Retrieved 22 November 2007.
  8. ^ Ainsley Symons (2012), "The Democrats and Local Government. Were they ever a threat to the ALP?" in Recorder (Australian Society for the Study of Labour History, Melbourne Branch) No. 274, Page 7.
  9. ^ "Brian Howe: delivering the Left to the leader a second time". The Canberra Times. 4 June 1991.
  10. ^ "Let's Hope Not All the Left Are Soppy". 4 June 1991.
  11. ^ "WA this week – 10 years ago". 14 June 2005.
  12. ^ "Long Howe innings has had success". Canberra Times. 21 June 1995. Retrieved 22 July 2022.
  13. ^ Cass, Bettina (1986). The case for review of aspects of the Australian social security system. Background paper 1. Woden, A.C.T: Dept. of Social Security. ISBN 978-0-642-51604-6.
  14. ^ Yeend, Peter (2000). "Welfare review". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 13 July 2022.
  15. ^ a b "Hall of Fame. Brian Howe AO". Disability Employment Australia. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  16. ^ "Disability support and services in Australia". Commonwealth Parliament. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  17. ^ Lindsay, Mary. "Commonwealth Disability Policy 1983-1995". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  18. ^ "People with disability in Australia, Disability discrimination". Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  19. ^ "Twenty Years: Twenty Stories". Australian Human Rights Commission. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  20. ^ "Disability discrimination | Australian Human Rights Commission". Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  21. ^ "Commonwealth Disability Strategy: a ten year framework for Commonwealth departments and agencies". Voced plus. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  22. ^ Ramsey, J (1997). "The National Mental Health strategy". Australian Journal of Rural Health. 4 (1): 53–6. doi:10.1111/j.1440-1584.1996.tb00187.x. PMID 9437124.
  23. ^ Dooland, Martin (1992). Improving dental health in Australia. Background paper no 9. National Health Strategy, DHHCS. ISBN 0642174687.
  24. ^ Biggs, Amanda (13 August 2008). "Overview of Commonwealth involvement in funding dental care". Parliament of Australia. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  25. ^ Howe, Brian (2001). "Reflecting oin Better Cities: the Plenty Corridor Area Strategy". Australian Planner. 38. doi:10.1080/07293682.2001.9657930. S2CID 106621942.
  26. ^ Fincher, Ruth (1991). "Locational disadvantage: an appropriate policy response to urban inequities?". Australian Geographer. 22 (2): 132–135. Bibcode:1991AuGeo..22..132F. doi:10.1080/00049189108703040.
  27. ^ Beer, Andrew (2008). "Spatial inequality and locational disadvantage: new perspectives on an old debate". Urban Policy and Research. 12 (3): 180–184. doi:10.1080/08111149408551628.
  28. ^ Neilson, Lyndsay (2008). "8. The 'Building Better Cities' program 1991-96: a nation-building initiative of the Commonwealth Government". In Butcher, John (ed.). Australia Under Construction: Nation-building – Past, Present and Future. Canberra: ANU Press. ISBN 9781921313783.
  29. ^ "Alumni Then and Now: Emerita Professor Meredith Edwards AM, PhD '83". ANU Reporter. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  30. ^ Milligan, Vivienne; Persson, Dick (1989). "Outcomes of the National Housing Policy Review". Urban Policy and Research. 7 (4): 183–186. doi:10.1080/08111148908551424 – via Taylor&Francis Online.
  31. ^ "Independent Inquiry into Insecure Work in Australia". ACTU. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  32. ^ "Poverty danger in jobs divide, says Howe". 18 April 2012.
  33. ^ O'Dea, Tom (30 January 2022). "Brian and Renata Howe". Fitzroy History Society. Retrieved 4 May 2022.
  34. ^ "Australian Honours Search Facililty: Brian Leslie Howe AM". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 26 January 2001. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
  35. ^ "Australian Honours Search Facililty: Brian Leslie Howe AO". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 26 January 2008. Retrieved 20 November 2022.
Political offices
Preceded by Deputy Prime Minister of Australia
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister for Defence Support
Succeeded by
Preceded by Minister for Social Security
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Neal Blewett (community
services and health)

Peter Staples (housing)
Minister for Community Services and Health
Succeeded by
Minister for Health, Housing
and Community Services

Preceded by
David Simmons
local government
Minister for Housing, Local Government
and Community Services

Succeeded by
Carmen Lawrence
human services
John Sharp
regional development
Minister for Housing and
Regional Development

Parliament of Australia
Preceded by Member for Batman
Succeeded by
Party political offices
Preceded by Deputy Leader of the Australian Labor Party
Succeeded by