Academics rage as 'racist' John Howard given honour

THERE is academic outrage at one of Australia's top universities over its decision to give former prime minister John Howard an honorary doctorate tomorrow.   

More than 110 University of Sydney staffers have signed a petition opposing the uni's decision to honor Mr Howard, the Brisbane Times reports.

The academics described Australia's 25th PM as a "racist and war criminal" because of policies and decisions made while he was running the country.

"(There was) a sharp escalation in racism - Tampa affair; Pacific Solution for asylum seekers; Northern Territory Intervention - and militarism - participation in the invasion of Iraq," the petition says.

The petitioners also claim there was "an assault on the independence of university research (the so-called 'history' wars)," while Mr Howard was PM.

The university said it was recognising the 77-year-old for his "achievements including world-leading gun law reform, leadership in East Timor and contribution to Australia's economic reform".

Mr Howard is a University of Sydney's law school alumnus and he already has honorary degrees from four other Australian universities. - ARM NEWSDESK