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Archives for April 1981

Andrew Peacock Resigns From Fraser Government

Following his resignation as Minister for Foreign Affairs in the Fraser government, Andrew Peacock explained his decision to the House of Representatives.

PeacockPeacock accused Fraser of “fracturing Cabinet government and the parliamentary system as we know it”.

In remarks reminiscent of Fraser’s own resignation from John Gorton’s government in 1971, Peacock claimed there was an “erosion of the Cabinet system” arising from “reposing too much power in the Prime Minister”.

He said that concentration of power in the Prime Minister was at odds “with efficient management of the country”. Moreover, he said “the ever increasing centralising of power is striking at the heart and core of liberalism”.

Peacock spoke at length of policy differences over industrial relations and recognition of the Pol Pot regime in Kampuchea (now Cambodia).

Three present and future prime ministers spoke in response to Peacock’s speech in the House: Malcolm Fraser, Paul Keating and John Howard.

Hansard transcript of Andrew Peacock’s speech to the House of Representatives on April 28, 1981.

Mr PEACOCK —I rise to explain today why I have resigned from the Fraser Ministry. I resigned because of irreconcilable differences between the Prime Minister (Mr Malcolm Fraser) and me about his method of government. Before speaking further, I wish to stress a matter which is of fundamental importance if the reasons for my resignation are to be understood. My resignation is not based on rivalry, nor is it inspired by any personal ambition. Throughout the turbulent post-Menzies years of the Liberal Party of Australia I have never been associated with any group that has sought to overthrow the leader. This is the first time I have publicly called into question the elected leader. Accordingly, it will be obvious that the decision to resign from the Prime Minister’s Ministry was the most painful decision I have been forced to make in all of my 25 years working for the Liberal Party. [Read more…]