The Prime Minister, John Howard, has held a press conference in Canberra this afternoon in which he has accepted responsibility for the Ryan by-election.
Howard says he has heard what the voters have to say, but he maintained that the result was more akin to the by-elections in Adelaide and Port Adelaide in 1988, and Oxley in 1989. In these elections, the Hawke government suffered large swings, up to 14%, losing the previously safe Adelaide electorate.
Howard argued that the swing of 10% against his government in Ryan was less than the swings against the ALP in its by-elections and denied that the result meant he could not win this year’s general election.
The Prime Minister argued that he would need to explain his government’s policies better and said that the nation could not pull back from its involvement with the rest of the world.