John Winston Howard
(born 26 July 1939) is an Australian politician and
the 25th Prime Minister of Australia. He is the second-longest serving
Australian Prime Minister after Sir Robert Menzies. He previously served as
Treasurer in the government led by Malcolm Fraser from 1977–1983 and was Leader
of the Liberal Party (thus also Leader of the Coalition Opposition) from
1985–1989 through the 1987 federal election against Bob Hawke. Elected again as
Leader of the Opposition in 1995, Howard became the Prime Minister of Australia
after defeating incumbent Paul Keating in the 1996 election. His government was
re-elected in the 1998, 2001 and 2004 elections. Howard is running for a fifth
term at the upcoming 2007 election and will face the opposition Australian Labor
Party led by Kevin Rudd.
John Howard is the youngest of four children, all sons, of Lyall Howard and
Mona (nee Kell), an office worker. His parents were married in 1925 and their
first son Stanley (later a solicitor and company director) was born in 1926,
followed by Walter (1929), and Robert (Bob) (later an academic and member of the
Labor Party) (1936).
Howard grew up in the Sydney suburb of Earlwood. His father and his paternal
grandfather, Walter Howard, were both veterans of the First AIF in World War I.
They later ran a petrol station and mechanical workshop in Dulwich Hill, where
John Howard worked as a boy. Lyall Howard died when John was sixteen, leaving
his mother to take care of John (or "Jack" as he was known in the family) and
his three brothers.
Howard suffered from a hearing impairment in his youth, and this has left him
with a slight speech impediment, something that he shares with namesake Winston
Howard attended the publicly funded state schools Earlwood Public School and
Canterbury Boys' High School. Howard won a citizenship prize in his final year
at Earlwood (presented by local politician Eric Willis), and subsequently
represented his secondary school at debating as well as cricket and rugby.
In his final year at school he took part in a radio show hosted by Jack Davey,
Give It a Go broadcast on the commercial radio station, 2GB, and a
recording of the show survives.
After gaining his Leaving Certificate, he studied law at the University of
Sydney. Howard joined the Liberal Party in 1957.
Howard was a solicitor and held office in the New South Wales Liberal Party
on the State Executive and as President of the Young Liberals (1962–64), the
party youth organisation.
During this period Howard was a supporter of Australia's involvement in the
Vietnam War, and he remains so today.
Member of Parliament
At the 1963 Federal Election, Howard acted as campaign manager in his local
seat of Parkes for the successful candidacy of Tom Hughes who defeated the 20
year Labor incumbent.
In 1967 with the support of party power brokers, John Carrick and Eric
Willis, he was endorsed as candidate for the marginal suburban state seat of
Drummoyne, held by the ALP. Howard's mother sold the family home in Earlwood and
rented a house with him at Five Dock, a suburb within the electorate. At the
election in February 1968, in which the incumbent state Liberal government was
returned to office, Howard failed to defeat the sitting member, despite
campaigning vigorously. Howard and his mother subsequently returned to Earlwood,
moving to a house on the same street where he grew up.
Howard continued living at home until 1971 when he married fellow Liberal
Party member Janette Parker, with whom he now has three children. Janette,
formerly an English teacher, has maintained a low profile during her husband's
prime ministership, possibly in part due to health problems but also to her own
Howard's next attempt to enter parliament was at a Federal level and was
successful. He was elected to the House of Representatives as the Member of
Parliament for the Sydney suburban seat of Bennelong at the Federal election in
May 1974. When Malcolm Fraser's government came to power in December 1975,
Howard was appointed Minister for Business and Consumer Affairs, and in December
1977 he was appointed Treasurer at the age of 38, for which appointment he
became known as "the boy Treasurer". In April 1982 he was elected Deputy Leader
of the Liberal Party.
Record as Treasurer
As Treasurer, he favoured cuts to personal income tax and business tax, lower
government spending, the dismantling of the centralised wage-fixing system, the
abolition of compulsory trade unionism and the privatization of government-owned
enterprises, views that have dominated his subsequent career. He became
frustrated with the more moderate and pragmatic Fraser, who would not embark on
these steps. In 1982 Howard nearly resigned in protest at Fraser's big-spending
pre-election budget. As Federal Treasurer, John Howard presided over a home
lending rate peaking at 13.5% on 8 April 1982.
Opposition years (1983-1996)
Following Fraser's resignation, Howard contested the Liberal leadership, but
was defeated by Andrew Peacock. He remained Deputy Leader and became Deputy
Leader of the Opposition. Peacock was defeated by Hawke at the 1984 election and
although he had lost by less than most commentators expected, Peacock began to
worry that Howard was planning to challenge for the leadership. In May 1985 he
tried to remove Howard from the Deputy Leadership position, expecting him to
challenge for the Leadership. The plan backfired when Howard stood again for the
deputy's position, and won. This put Peacock in an untenable position and he
resigned, leaving Howard to take the leadership unopposed.
Howard said that "the times will suit me." In addition to his economic views,
he became known as a strong social conservative, supporting the nuclear family
against the so-called "permissive society", and was also sceptical of the
promotion of multiculturalism at the expense of a shared national identity. In
1985, in an interview he gave with The Age published on 30 July, Howard
stated that he (like Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher at the time - see
History of South Africa in the apartheid era) was opposed to economic sanctions
against the apartheid government of South Africa.
During 1985 and 1986, with unemployment rising and the economy stagnant,
Howard appeared to be making ground on the government. However, Howard's chances
of winning the 1987 election were destroyed when the arch-conservative Premier
of Queensland, Sir Joh Bjelke-Petersen, launched a populist "Joh for Canberra"
campaign, temporarily splitting and discrediting the conservative forces. Hawke
won the 1987 election comfortably.
In 1988, Howard's position was weakened by controversy following a speech in
which he claimed that the rate of Asian immigration into Australia was too high.
In May 1989 Peacock launched a surprise leadership coup against Howard. After a
brief stint on the backbench, Howard returned to the Coalition front bench, but
his leadership career seemed to be over, particularly when Peacock lost the 1990
election and the Liberals turned to a new, younger leader, Dr. John Hewson.
Howard himself compared the possibility of a political comeback to "Lazarus with
a triple bypass".
Howard was an enthusiastic supporter of Hewson's economic program, with a
Goods and Services Tax (GST) as its centrepiece. After Hewson lost the "unloseable"
1993 election to Paul Keating, Howard unsuccessfully challenged Hewson for the
leadership. In 1994, he was again passed over for the leadership, which went to
Alexander Downer. Downer failed to dent Keating's dominance and in January 1995
he resigned as leader. The party's Deputy Leader, Peter Costello was unwilling
to step up to the leadership, and Howard became leader for the second time.
The 1996 election campaign
As Opposition Leader, Howard adopted a more pragmatic position than he had
done during his first term in the leadership. He repudiated his earlier
statements against Medicare and in favour of a GST (saying he would "never ever"
introduce a GST). In a "small
target" strategy, he attacked the "arrogance" and the "elitist" nature of
Keating's "big picture" politics—issues like foreign relations with Asia,
Australian republicanism, multiculturalism and reconciliation with indigenous
Australians—which, Howard believed, were irrelevant to ordinary voters. He also
promised workers would be no worse off under industrial relations changes.
Howard won over many traditional Labor voters, sometimes called the "Howard
battlers" (analogous to the Reagan Democrats), and scored a sweeping victory at
the 1996 elections over Keating to become Prime Minister of Australia at the age
In the lead up to the 1996 election, Pauline Hanson, the Liberal candidate
for Oxley in Queensland was disendorsed because of comments she made to The
Queensland Times. Howard was slow to express views on Hanson; his initial
public reaction was to comment that he thought it was good that the years of
"political correctness" were finally over.
First term: 1996–1998
Howard and his cabinet immediately announced the previous government had left
behind a 10 billion dollar "budget black hole" that necessitated considerable
reduction in almost all areas of government expenditure.
Training and education programs developed under the Keating government were
scrapped, infrastructure investment was scaled down, funding for indigenous
bodies was reduced, and a system of "work for the dole" requiring social
security seekers to engage in work was introduced.
Prudent economic management remained the government's strongest claim
throughout its term, and a prolonged period of economic growth remains an
essential element in its popularity.
The government began a trend of budget surpluses which it maintained in most
years, the exception being the 2001-2002 financial year where a cash deficit of
$1.3 Billion was recorded . By 2006 had completely paid off the 96 billion
dollar Commonwealth government net debt which was in place in 1996.
In 1996, Australia was stunned when 35 people were killed by Martin Bryant in
the Port Arthur massacre. Howard responded by coordinating action by the state
governments to heavily restrict the private ownership of semi-automatic rifles,
semi-automatic shotguns and pump-action shotguns. This action and an
accompanying "gun buy-back scheme" were popular.
The Howard government did not have a majority in the Senate, instead facing a
situation where legislation had to be negotiated past either the Australian
Democrats or the Independents. The Senate modified much of the Government's more
controversial legislation, including the partial privatisation of the
government-owned telecommunications company, Telstra; the modification of
industrial relations laws to promulgate individual contracts; increases in
university fees; large funding cuts in the 1996 and 1997 budgets; a 30% private
health insurance rebate; and the Wik 10 Point Plan, giving extinguishment of
native title on pastoral leases.
Howard had come to office promising to improve standards of integrity among
ministers and politicians, introducing a strict "Code of Ministerial Conduct" at
the start of his term. The strictness of his code was enforced when a succession
of seven of his ministers (Jim Short, Geoff Prosser, John Sharp, David Jull,
Brian Gibson, Bob Woods, and Peter McGauran) were required to resign following
breaches of the code, concerning a variety of "travel rorts" (misuse of the
ministerial travel allowance) and conflicts of interest between ministerial
responsibilities and share ownership. Prosser had attempted to use his
ministerial office to further his own business interests. Another two ministers
(John Moore and Warwick Parer) were discovered to have breached the code.
The 1998 election campaign
The 1998 election campaign was dominated by two issues. One was reform of the
tax system, including the introduction of the Goods and Services Tax (GST; a
broad-based value-added tax). At
the October 1998 election, the Liberal-National Coalition, suffered a large
swing, largely driven by an opposition campaign against the Goods and Services
Tax. Labor leader Kim Beazley won 51% of the national two-party preferred vote,
but the Liberals ran an effective marginal electorate campaign and were returned
with a comfortable majority in parliament.
Although One Nation had previously surprised commentators with a resounding
performance in the Queensland state election, its national campaign was poorly
administered and One Nation failed to win any House of Representatives seats. An
electoral redistribution had rendered Pauline Hanson's seat of Oxley unwinnable.
She stood in neighbouring electorate of Blair but was defeated by the
preferencing of both Liberal and Labor parties against her.
Second term: 1998–2001
Despite Howard's essentially domestic focus, external issues intruded
significantly into Howard's second term when the people of East Timor voted for
independence in a United Nations sponsored referendum. Indonesian militia,
covertly backed by Indonesian troops, began a brutal campaign of repression.
After enormous public pressure, Howard (with bi-partisan support) broke with the
long-standing Australian policy of unquestioning support for Indonesia, and
Australia lead a peacekeeping/policing force to protect the inhabitants against
pro-Indonesian militias, attracting praise domestically and in several
countries, but angering some Indonesians and Islamists. A side effect of these
actions was that Osama Bin Laden later called Australia a "crusader force", and
that the Bali bombings were retribution for leading the action.
John Howard's government also considered the issue of a national apology to
Aboriginal Australians for their treatment by previous generations following the
European settlement of the country. Howard refrained from making a national
apology (although all State and Territory Governments did so) and instead
personally expressed "deep sorrow" while maintaining that "Australians of this
generation should not be required to accept guilt and blame for past actions and
The other major issue during Howard's second term was the implementation of
the GST, replacing a range of taxes on specific goods with a flat rate on almost
all goods and services. All GST revenue is distributed to the states. This was
intended to give the States responsibility for their own finances and end the
annual funding squabble between the States and the Federal Government. The
Federal Government continues to determine the share of GST revenue received by
Howard was only able to pass the GST legislation through the Senate after
making a deal with Australian Democrats' leader Senator Meg Lees to exclude a
number of items from the GST, most notably fresh food such as fruit and
vegetables. This increased the complexity of the GST, which had already
increased the frequency and detail of reporting required by small businesses.
As a partial offset for the GST, a $7,000 "first home buyers grant" was
introduced in 2000. The
grant was paid at settlement, and Australian banks chose to count it towards a
buyer's deposit, increasing the borrowing limit of applicants by approximately
$70,000 and feeding a housing boom already sparked by world-wide low interest
Although some of the resentment for the GST fell on the Democrats, the Howard
government was trailing in the polls in 2001. The government lost a by-election
in the normally safe electorate of Ryan in Queensland, and Labor governments
were elected in all the states and territories (except South Australia, which
fell to Labor in 2002). In response to the declining position at this time, a
number of policy changes were made, including the abandonment of petrol excise
indexation and increased government benefits to self-funded retirees.
The 2001 election campaign
In August 2001, the government refused permission for the Norwegian freighter
MV Tampa, carrying a group of asylum seekers picked up in international
waters, to enter Australian waters. Howard ordered the ship be boarded by
Australian special forces and spoke strongly of the need for Australia to
"decide who comes to this country and the circumstances in which they come".
This brought censure from the government of Norway for Australia's failure to
meet obligations to distressed mariners under international law at the United
The government introduced tough "border protection" legislation. Kim Beazley
and the Labor opposition offered half-hearted support to Howard's legislation,
while opposing it on specific points. The issue, along with the shock of the
recent September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, allowed the Howard government to
portray itself as "tough" on border protection and national security. The Howard
government subsequently received a big lift in the polls,
and most commentators agree that national security was the decisive issue in the
It was in October 2001 during the election campaign that pictures released by
the Royal Australian Navy sparked the Children Overboard Affair. When a vessel
of asylum seekers attempting entry into Australia, designated SIEV-4, was
intercepted by HMAS Adelaide, the vessel sank and the passengers were
rescued by Adelaide's crew. Howard and Defence Minister Peter Reith
claimed that pictures and video footage taken by the crew of Adelaide
showed that asylum seekers had deliberately thrown their own children into the
sea as a way of forcing Adelaide to rescue them. It later emerged that
the pictures depicted children caught in the water after the vessel had sunk,
video footage of the event was unclear at best, there was no evidence that
children had been deliberately thrown overboard, and that multiple naval and
intelligence sources were aware of all of these facts at the time of Howard and
Reith's announcements. When this was discovered, Howard claimed that he was
acting on the intelligence he was given at the time. It was later revealed that
Minister Reith had been informed on 7 November by Air Marshal (later Air Chief
Marshal) Angus Houston that the claim was false. On 26 February 2006 Howard
"They irresponsibly sank the damn boat, which put their children in the
The subsequent Senate inquiry later found that passengers aboard other SIEVs
had threatened children, sabotaged their own vessels, committed self-harm, and,
in the case of SIEV-7 on 22 October, a child had been thrown overboard and
rescued by another asylum seeker.
At the November 2001 elections the Coalition was re-elected, with a larger
majority than in 1998.
Third term: 2001–2004
In the two years after the 2001 election the Howard government continued its
tough line on national security and "border protection" issues, while seeking to
further its agenda of conservative social policies and pro-business economic
reforms. Despite its victory in 2001, the government did not have a Senate
majority, and its ability to pass planned legislation was restricted.
Howard faced a difficult issue in the allegations that his choice as Governor
General, Dr. Peter Hollingworth, in his previous job as Anglican Archbishop of
Brisbane, had refused to investigate Anglican priests who were accused of
paedophilia in various churches. Eventually Hollingworth was forced to resign
the governor-generalship amidst a storm of controversy that threatened to damage
the credibility of his office.
So long as the issue of national security was prominent in the minds of
voters and the Australian economy remained strong
Howard retained a clear political advantage over his opponents. Throughout 2002
and 2003 he kept his lead in the opinion polls over the then Labor leader, Simon
Crean. Following the October 2002 Bali bombing, Howard placed a renewed emphasis
on his government's approach to national security.
In March 2003, Howard joined 40 countries including the United Kingdom and
the United States, in sending troops and naval units to support in the invasion
of Iraq and the removal of Saddam Hussein from power. He told parliament:
- "Full disclosure by Iraq of its chemical, biological and nuclear weapons
programs and immediate and total cooperation by Iraq with the provisions of
resolution 1441 of the Security Council will remove the need for military
Australian opinion was deeply divided on the war and large public protests
against the war occurred.
Several senior figures from the Liberal party, including John Valder, a former
president of the Liberal Party, and Howard's former friend and colleague, former
Opposition Leader John Hewson and former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser publicly
criticised Howard over Iraq.
John Valder's criticism was particularly strong, claiming that Howard should be
tried and punished as a war criminal.
On Anzac Day 2004, Howard made a surprise visit to Australian defence
personnel in Iraq. This came amid a bitter debate in Australia over the war
following opposition leader Mark Latham's promise to return Australian troops by
Christmas. Howard portrayed Latham as a threat to the U.S.-Australia alliance.
The 2004–05 budget increased family payments and tax cuts for middle income
and contributed to a recovery by the government in the opinion polls .
On 6 May 2004 representatives of the Australian government and John Howard
met with a group of representatives of industry called the Lower Emissions
Technology Advisory Group (LETAG). Minutes from the meeting were leaked and
describe how both groups are worried that mandatory renewable energy targets
were working too well and were "market skewed" towards wind power.
In August 2004, Howard's proposed amendment to the Marriage Act—to prevent
foreign and domestic same-sex unions from being recognised as marriages within
Australia—was passed with the support of the Australian Labor Party, although
several Labor Left MPs had expressed their opposition to the amendment, and the
Premier of Western Australia Dr. Geoff Gallop. The Greens and Democrats opposed
the amendment. Howard has since ruled out recognising gay marriages.
The 2004 election campaign
On 29 August 2004, Howard called an election for 9 October. The Labor
opposition, after the resignation of Simon Crean and the election of Mark Latham
as leader in December 2003, had established a large lead in some opinion polls
by March 2004, and the government entered the election campaign behind Labor in
all the published national opinion polls. Howard himself still had a large lead
over Latham as preferred Prime Minister in those same polls and most
commentators regarded the result as being too close to call.
During the campaign, Howard attacked Latham's economic record as Mayor of
Liverpool City Council. Howard also attacked Labor's economic history.
"It is an historic fact that interest rates have always gone up under Labor
governments over the last 30 years, because Labor governments spend more than
they collect and drive budgets into deficit," he said. "So it will be with a
Latham Labor government... I will guarantee that interest rates are always going
to be lower under a Coalition government."
In the closing period of the election campaign, Howard promised a large
spending program on health, education, small business and family payments with
the aim of trumping Latham's policy strengths.
The election resulted in an increased Coalition majority in the House of
Representatives and also a government majority in the Senate, the first
government majority in that chamber since 1981. The strength of the Australian
economy under Howard's leadership
may have helped him to retain the "battler" vote which, combined with his strong
conservative base, gave the Coalition a comfortable election victory of 52.74%
of the vote on a two party preferred basis against Labor's result of 47.26%.
Fourth term: 2004–present
The Government response to the 2004 Indian Ocean earthquake was widely
acclaimed in Australia and abroad,
including by then Opposition shadow foreign affairs spokesperson and current
Opposition leader, Kevin Rudd, who said that an Australian Labor Party
government could not have done more.
On 1 July 2005 the new Senate came into effect, giving the Government control
of both houses. This is the first Australian government since the Fraser
government that is able to pass any legislation it wishes, without having to
first gain the approval of another party or hold a double dissolution election.
With a majority of, arguably, one senator, this is subject to achieving the
necessary Coalition discipline, which has appeared to be quite fragile on
Legislation which had previously been blocked and has now been passed
includes industrial relations changes and Voluntary Student Unionism, which
removed compulsory student union fees at universities. It has also overruled a
legislation, the ACT Civil Unions Act.
Other legislation which had previously been blocked in the Senate includes
revising media ownership laws so as to remove restrictions on media companies
having control over multiple different media.
On Monday 4 December 2006 Kevin Rudd replaced Kim Beazley as leader of the
In 2005, Howard announced fundamental and wide-ranging changes to industrial
relations laws which have since been the subject of a national campaign by
community groups, the union movement and state Labor governments.
Despite the coalition's majority in the Senate, a number of the proposed laws
were in doubt, due to the opposition that had been voiced by Queensland National
Party Senator Barnaby Joyce who had threatened to vote against the sale of
Telstra. Joyce raised concerns in relation to the industrial relations
announcements but eventually supported the legislation.
On 15 November 2005 protest rallies were held to protest against the
workplace relations laws around the country, in opposition to the Howard
government’s planned changes to industrial relations laws. A large crowd,
estimated at between 100-175,000 people, turned out at the protests in
Melbourne, with large numbers attending around 300 meetings and rallies that
were held concurrently across the country.
These meetings were organised by
various unions and community organisations with the help of Labor and the
Greens. The laws were passed without substantial change.
Iraq and Terrorism
On 22 February 2005 Howard announced that Australia would increase its
military commitment to Iraq with an additional 450 troops, telling John Laws,
"I’m openly saying that some small adjustment at the margin might happen".
In mid 2005, John Howard and his cabinet began discussions of new anti-terror
legislation which includes modification to the Crimes Act 1914. In
particular, sections relating to sedition are to be modified. On 14 October
2005, Jon Stanhope (Chief Minister of the ACT) took the controversial step of
publishing the confidential draft of the Federal Anti-Terrorism Bill 2005 on his
This action was both praised and criticised.
Citing concerns about civil rights raised by the Australian National University
as well as concerns over the speed of the legislation's passage through
parliament, he later refused to sign off on a revised version of the
legislation, becoming the only State and Territorial leader not to sign.
The House of Representatives passed the anti-terrorism legislation which was
debated in the Senate before its final implementation in December 2005.
On 2 November 2005 Howard held a press conference to announce that he had
received information from police and the Australian Security Intelligence
Organisation (ASIO) that indicated an imminent terrorist attack in Australia.
Within a week, on 8 November, anti-terrorist raids were held across Melbourne
and Sydney, with 17 suspected terrorists arrested, including Abdul Nacer
Benbrika. These raids, according to Howard, demonstrated the need for his
Anti-Terrorism Bill. According to the Greens and Democrats, the raids
demonstrated that no further legislation was needed as even the current
legislation was sufficient to allow ASIO and the Australian Federal Police to
act in some cases. Critics have also said that the press conference was held on
the same day as the changes to industrial relations laws were introduced to
In October 2005, the Volcker Inquiry into the United Nations Oil-for-Food
Programme revealed that Australian company AWB Ltd had paid the single largest
illicit "kickback" to the Iraq regime. Howard, resisting calls for a Royal
Commission, subsequently established a Commission of Inquiry under Terence Cole
QC to determine if Australian companies had broken the law.
Howard rejected criticisms that the Inquiry Terms of Reference were too narrow
(i.e. did not permit adequate investigation into the role played by Government
Ministers and their delegates).
Mandatory Detention of Refugees
Throughout the first half of 2005, the Howard government faced pressure
regarding the controversial mandatory detention program. It was revealed in
February that a mentally ill German citizen and Australian resident, Cornelia
Rau, had been held in detention for nine months. The government then established
the closed non-judicial Palmer Inquiry promising that the findings would be made
public. In May, it was revealed that another Australian, subsequently identified
as Vivian Alvarez, had been deported from Australia and that the department
responsible was unable to locate her. By late May, it was revealed that an
additional 200 cases of possible wrongful detention had been referred to the
Also at this time Howard faced backbench revolt from small numbers of his own
party demanding that reforms be made.
On 9 June Australia's longest serving detainee, Peter Qasim, was moved to a
A talk given on 20 February 2006 by Clive Hamilton, the director of the
Australia Institute, described the Howard as being influenced by the "dirty
dozen", a group of industry lobbyists with considerable influence over
Australian policy. On 6
June 2006, Howard announced a task force to conduct the "Uranium Mining,
Processing, and Nuclear Energy Review", the terms of reference of which include
"the extent to which nuclear energy will make a contribution to the reduction of
global greenhouse gas emissions".
Howard announced on 10 December 2006 the formation of a Prime Ministerial Task
Group on Emissions Trading.
On 3 February 2007, the Australian government announced that it could not by
itself have a significant effect on mitigation of global warming, though it
would continue to make efforts to cut greenhouse gases; it would be necessary
for Australia to find means of adaptation.On
4 June 2007, Howard announced a new Carbon Trading Scheme to be in place in
Australia by 2012.
Speculation about retirement
In the lead up to the 2001 election, Howard did not commit to serving a full
term if he won the election. Instead, he said he would consider the question of
retirement when he turned 64, which would be in July 2003.
When July 2003 came, he announced that the party was strongly in favour of him
continuing, so he stayed on.
In the lead up to the 2004 election, Howard again did not commit to serving a
full term. In 2006, there was
mounting speculation that he would retire that year.
In July 2006, as part of a redistribution of New South Wales electoral
divisions, a proposal was made to change the boundaries of Howard's electorate
of Bennelong on Sydney's Lower North Shore. It has been suggested that these
changes may make Bennelong one of the most marginal seats in the state with only
a 3% majority, however these figures have been disputed by political
commentators such as Malcolm Mackerras, and also Shane Easson of the NSW Labor
Party, who argue that the impact of the changes will be minimal.
In July 2006, it was alleged that a deal had been struck with Peter Costello
in 1994 with Ian McLachlan present, that if the Liberal party were to win the
next election, Howard would serve one and a half terms of office and then allow
Costello to take over. Mr. McLachlan's version of the conversation is that Mr.
Howard said something like, "I can't guarantee this to you Peter, but my
intention is not to hang around forever. If I win, I'll serve two terms and hand
over to you."
Howard denied that this constituted a deal, yet Costello and McLachlan insisted
and there were calls for Costello to either challenge or quit.
The impasse was resolved at the end of July when Howard, again citing strong
party room support for him as leader, stated that he would remain to contest the
2007/2008 election, and that he and Costello would remain in their current
Costello declared that he would not be seeking the top position in the Liberal
Party while Howard was standing as its leader, saying on The 7.30 Report
he would be handing down the 2007 Budget.
- Centenary Medal In January 2001
- The Star of the Solomon Islands together with Helen Clark as Prime Minister
of New Zealand on 15 June 2005 for their respective roles in restoring law and
order in the Solomon Islands.
Parliament of Australia
Sir John Cramer
|Member for Bennelong
1974 – present
|Leader of the Liberal
|Leader of the Liberal
1995 – present
|Prime Minister of
1996 – present