John Howard has told Liberal Party MPs that he is staying Liberal Party leader and will contest the 2007 general election.
Reacting to Howard’s announcement, Peter Costello has told a Melbourne press conference that he will remain as deputy leader and Treasurer.
- Listen to Peter Costello’s Press Conference (17m)
This is the text of the letter John Howard faxed to Liberal Party parliamentarians this morning:
In recent weeks I have taken a variety of soundings within the parliamentary party to ascertain its feelings on the leadership issue.
My position has been that I would remain leader of the Liberal Party for so long as that was the party’s wish, and that it was in the party’s best interests that I did so.
My soundings tell me that the strong view of the party is that the current leadership team, with me as leader and Peter Costello as deputy leader, should remain in place through to the next election.
My purpose in writing is to inform you, in advance of a public announcement, that I will commit to leading the party to the next election.
I remain enthusiastic and keen to ensure that the Coalition achieves a fifth electoral victory. I spoke to Peter Costello yesterday to advise him of my feelings.
Leadership of the party is a great honour, of which I remain profoundly conscious. It is, moreover, the unique gift of the party room.
Just as the party now wants me to continue as leader I accept that it has a perfect right to change its mind if it judges that to be to the party’s benefit. If that were to occur, I would not ignore the party’s shift in sentiment.
Please believe me when I say that the next election will be hard to win. We must, therefore, go to it with our best people in the right places.
A crucial element will be Peter Costello’s contribution, not only as deputy leader but also as Treasurer, where his work over the past decade has been so important to our success.
I have thought it desirable to resolve my position regarding the leadership in advance of parliament resuming on the 8th August. Hence this letter. I will make a statement on my intentions later today.
I look forward to seeing you at the already foreshadowed special joint party meeting on the afternoon of 7 August to discuss future policy directions.