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Peacock Defeats Howard In Surprise Challenge; Nationals Replace Sinclair With Blunt

The Liberal Opposition leader, John Howard, was replaced by Andrew Peacock on May 9, 1989, in a surprise leadership challenge that also led the National Party to replace Ian Sinclair with Charles Blunt.

The challenge to Howard was hatched in almost total secrecy. Peacock defeated Howard by 44 votes to 27.

The week after the leadership change, the anti-Howard plotters appeared in a remarkable Four Corners program on the ABC and detailed how they removed Howard.

Peacock had been leader of the Liberal Party between 1983 and 1985, until he was replaced by John Howard after a misjudged attempt to remove Howard as deputy leader. Howard led the Liberal Party to defeat against the Hawke Labor government in 1987.

Sinclair became leader of the National Party in January 1984, following the retirement of Doug Anthony. First elected to Parliament in 1963, Sinclair had been a minister in the Menzies, Holt, McEwen, Gorton, McMahon and Fraser governments.

Peacock went on to lead the Coalition to defeat in the 1990 Federal Election. Charles Blunt lost his seat of New England in the election.

The Channel 9 News bulletin shown below features Laurie Oakes, Peter Harvey and Brian Naylor.

  • Watch Channel 9 News reports (8m)
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