Listening to Howard's reflections, what struck me was his virulent opposition to an apology to the Stolen Generations. 'I didn't think one generation could apologise for the claimed misdeeds of an earlier generation.'
I've had a life-long curiosity about the 'claimed misdeeds'. As a child, I used to wonder about the Aboriginal people who vacated the land that became our farm outside Wodonga, less than 100 years before I was born.
I had one primary school teacher who taught us that there'd been tension between the original inhabitants of the land and the European settlers. But the prevailing attitude was that how the land got to be ours was not something we needed to be concerned about.
Over the years, education fed my curiosity and I came to regard the claimed misdeeds as a stain on our peace of mind about the land we inhabit, not unlike the Catholic doctrine of Original Sin.
For now, I believe that the least we can do is to inform ourselves and support the acknowledgement of country that often takes place at the beginning of meetings and events.
I like to study the Macquarie Atlas of Indigenous Australia, and currently I'm reading Henry Reynolds' Truth-Telling: History, Sovereignty and The Uluru Statement, which was published last month.
Reynolds, who is now 82, was a young historian when I was studying Australian history at Melbourne University. This was not long after his landmark book The Other Side of the Frontier was first published in 1981.
Reynolds' arguments were rebutted by Keith Windschuttle in The Fabrication of Aboriginal History (2002), which is often credited with precipitating the 'history wars' and - by extension - the 'culture wars'.
Windschuttle was a contemporary of John Howard's at school. In 2006 Howard appointed him to the Board of the ABC, which is often recognised as Australia's premier cultural institution. Windschuttle's ideas have clearly fuelled Howard's skepticism regarding the earlier generation's 'claimed misdeeds' against the indigenous population. The culture wars - which are the major source of social and intellectual division in Australia today - have subsequently come to loom large in Howard's legacy.