Australian Prime Minister John Howard has condemned the distribution of bogus leaflets by party members in a key seat, two days before nationwide polls.
Mr Howard, who is trailing Labor Party rival Kevin Rudd in opinion polls, said that the pamphlets were "wrong" and not authorised by his Liberal Party.
The leaflets purported to be from an Islamist group and suggested that Labor sympathised with bombers.
To think, I thought this election wouldn't give me a nice, racially based moment of fear mongering.
But bad as all this is, how much worse was it for Howard to begin the fracturing of his own community?
His tacit endorsement of Pauline Hanson's racism during his first government, his WASP-divined jihad against refugees; those wretched individuals who had enough faith in us to try and reach us in old tubs, while his wicked detention policy was presided over by that other psalm singer, Philip Ruddock.
This is the John Howard the press gallery in Canberra went out of its way to sell to the public during 1995. The new-made person on immigration, not the old suburban, picket-fence racist of the 1980s, no, the enlightened unifier who now accepted Australia's ethnic diversity; the Opposition leader who was going to maintain Keating Labor's social policies on industrial relations, on superannuation at 15 per cent, on reconciliation, on native title, and on the unique labour market programs for the unemployed.
These solemn commitments by Howard, which helped him win the 1996 election, bit the dust under that breathtaking blanket of hypocrisy he labelled "non-core promises".
Well Howard wasn't "all right". He has turned out to be the most divisive prime minister in our history. Not simply a conservative maintaining the status quo, but a militant reactionary bent upon turning the clock back. Turning it back against social inclusion, cooperation at the workplace, the alignment of our foreign policies towards Asia, providing a truthful and honourable basis for our reconciliation, accepting the notion that all prime ministers since Menzies had: Holt, Gorton, McMahon, Whitlam, Fraser, Hawke and me: that our ethnic diversity had made us better and stronger and the nation's leitmotif was tolerance. Howard has trodden those values into the ground.
--Paul Keating, ex-Prime Minister.