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Jeff Kennett Dumped From Liberal Leadership In Victoria

The Victorian Opposition Leader, Jeff Kennett, was replaced as Liberal Party leader on May 23, 1989 by Alan Brown.

Kennett had been leader since November 1982 and had lost the 1985 and 1998 state elections to the ALP’s John Cain.

The challenge to Kennett in 1989 came just two weeks after the federal Liberals had replaced John Howard with Andrew Peacock.

Kennett chose not to contest the leadership when it became clear he had lost party support. Alan Brown and Roger Pescott were elected as leader and deputy.

Kennett returned to the leadership in 1991, after staging a counter-coup against Brown. He subsequently won the 1992 state election against the ALP’s Joan Kirner and was Premier for seven years. Brown served as Transport Minister before being appointed Agent-General.

Like Kennett, Howard returned to the federal leadership in 1995, won the 1996 election against the ALP’s Paul Keating and was prime minister for 11 years, 9 months.

This video is the Channel 9 News on Wednesday, May 23, 1989. It reports on the Victorian situation and the aftermath of the Peacock coup in Canberra.


Sack Call On Liberal Plotters

In May 1989, a well-planned coup toppled John Howard and re-installed Andrew Peacock as leader of the Liberal Party.

The week after the leadership change, the main organisers of the challenge appeared on the ABC’s Four Corners program to explain and gloat about how they overthrew Howard.

John Moore and Wilson Tuckey were the main spokesmen for the plotters. [Read more…]


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. [Read more…]


John Kerin Comments On Leadership Changes In the Coalition

This is an audio clip of John Kerin joking about leadership changes in the coalition parties.

Kerin was the Minister for Primary Industries and Energy in the Hawke government.

He remarks came in Question Time on the day the Liberal Party replaced John Howard with their former leader, Andrew Peacock, and the National Party replaced Ian Sinclair with Charles Blunt. [Read more…]


How Much Does A Leadership Change Cost?

Following the dual change of leadership in the Liberal Party and the National Party, the Hawke government minister Senator Robert Ray had some fun in Senate Question Time about the costs involved.

Earlier in the day, the Liberal Party toppled John Howard from the leadership and replaced him with his predecessor, Andrew Peacock. Simultaneously, the National Party overthrew Ian Sinclair and replaced him with Charles Blunt.

Ray was the Minister for Immigration, representing the Minister for Administrative Services. He was asked a Dorothy Dix question by the ALP’s Senator Bob McMullan about the administrative costs of the leadership changes. [Read more…]


Howard Questioned Over His Loyalty To Peacock

In this audio clip, John Howard is asked if be will loyal to Andrew Peacock, the re-instated leader of the Liberal Party.

Howard was replaced in a surprise partyroom challenge. He had been leader since since he replaced Peacock in 1985. [Read more…]


Peacock And Blunt Announce Their Leadership Positions To The House of Representatives

In this audio clip, Andrew Peacock and Charles Blunt announce their leadership positions to the House of Representatives on May 9, 1989.

Peacock reclaimed the leadership he lost to John Howard in 1985 at a surprise partyroom challenge.

Blunt replaced Ian Sinclair in a National Party challenge on the same day. [Read more…]


Kennett-Peacock Car Phone Conversation

Long before mobile phones became the ubiquitous accessory of the 21st century, a famous conversation took place between the then Leader of the Opposition in Victoria, Jeff Kennett, and his close friend, the former and future Federal Leader of the Opposition, Andrew Peacock.

The Victorian Liberals had performed well in a by-election on the evening of Saturday March 23, 1987. On his way home by car, Kennett rang Peacock. The call was intercepted by a man with a scanner. The conversation found its way onto the front pages of the newspapers and the Leader of the Opposition, John Howard, sacked Peacock from the shadow ministry. [Read more…]


Murray Nichol, Radio Journalist, Comments On The Liberal Party Leadership

In this audio clip, Murray Nichol, a radio journalist on Melbourne radio station 3AW, commented on the Liberal Party leadership.

Nichol points out that speculation was growing about Howard’s ability to win the next election and on the possibility of Andrew Peacock seeking to regain the position he lost in 1985.

Bob Hawke called an early election in July 1987, defeating Howard. Peacock successfully challenged Howard for the leadership in May 1989.

  • Listen to Murray Nichol (1m)

Peacock Moves Against Howard; Murphy Sentenced

On September 3, 1985, Federal Opposition Leader Andrew Peacock called a special Liberal Party meeting to vote on the deputy leadership.

It was a fateful move. In his attempt to remove his deputy, John Howard, Peacock miscalculated badly. Howard was re-elected, Peacock resigned the leadership and Howard was then elected leader.

The first two video clips show how Channel 9 and the ABC reported the news. [Read more…]