Howard Library honours Australia’s second longest-serving Prime Minister


The inner workings of the Howard Coalition Government will be revealed to the public through the creation of a new Library at Old Parliament House, Canberra.

The Howard Library, will be established by UNSW Canberra later this year and will house a collection of non-official documents, personal papers and memorabilia from John Howard’s time as Prime Minister of Australia between 1996-2007.   

The Library’s Director, Professor Tom Frame says the Howard Library will promote and advance the principles of Public Leadership through research and education. “The Howard Library is apolitical and non-partisan, it is simply presenting material for others to study and assess,” he said.

 The Library’s collection includes Mr Howard’s desk which was first used by Prime Minister SM Bruce in 1927, APEC costumes and gifts from world leaders. The galleries will provide an overview of public events and profile political leaders during the Howard years and includes a ‘Ruddock Archive’ containing every government report produced in that time.

In welcoming the Library’s creation, Mr Howard says the displays are intended to remind visitors of the challenges the government faced and the priorities it sought to pursue at a time when ideas mattered.

“Public documents reveal the advice provided to the government, the basis upon which the Cabinet made a particular decision, and why a certain course of action was pursued,” Mr Howard said.

“I fully accept that Australians will have different opinions of my government’s performance and of my leadership, but these views and assessments will be more compelling and persuasive when based on public records as well as media reporting and political commentary.”

UNSW Canberra already holds the official John Howard Collection which was transferred from the National Archives of Australia to the Australian Defence Force Academy Library at Mr Howard’s request.

“As several major military operations were initiated or sustained by his government, John Howard believed his papers were more likely to be consulted at UNSW Canberra with its 50-year connection to Australia’s uniformed community through the Naval College at Jervis Bay, Duntroon and, since 1986, the Australian Defence Force Academy,” says Professor Frame.

Professor Frame said the Howard Library’s holdings will expand with the donation of more personal papers over time so professional and emerging researchers will be able to consult all the major documents relating to the years 1996-2007 in a single location.

The Howard Library will host its first official visitors at Old Parliament House on November 14 during the University’s second “Howard Government Retrospective Program”. It will open to the public early next year.