Howard, John Winston, 1939–, Australian political leader and prime minister (1996–2007), b. Sydney. A graduate of Sydney Univ., a conservative lawyer, and a member of the Liberal party, he was elected to parliament in 1974 and served as minister for business and consumer affairs (1975–77) and treasurer (1977–83) in the government of Malcolm Fraser. As head of the party (1985–89; 1995–2007), he was an advocate of economic deregulation, smaller government, and other free-market reforms. He became prime minister in 1996, leading a Liberal-National party coalition and promising sweeping economic and labor reforms. He retained power after the 1998, 2001, and 2004, elections, becoming the third Australian prime minister to win four terms. He strongly supported retention of the British monarch as head of state in the 1999 referendum, opposed a formal national apology for Australia's mistreatment of the aborigines, and increased Australia's involvement in the Asia-Pacific region. Although he oversaw an extended period of economic growth, his staunch support of the U.S. President George W. Bush and voter unhappiness with labor-law changes and various social issues contributed to his defeat in 2007.
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