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Three Days Of Conflicting Claims Over Liberal Leadership: Now Costello Holds A Press Conference

For the third day in a row, the claims and counter-claims over a 1994 deal on the Liberal Party leadership dominated the political news.

The controversy began on July 10 with publication of claims by former Defence Minister Ian McLachlan that he witnessed a deal between John Howard and Peter Costello on December 5, 1994. He claimed that Howard offered to stand down from the prime ministership, provided he could take the party leadership unopposed.

At media doorstops, Costello confirmed McLachlan’s account, whilst Howard said no such deal was made.

On July 11, Howard held a media doorstop and then a press conference to again refute suggestions of a deal. [Read more…]

Howard Again Disputes Claims He Struck A Liberal Party Leadership Deal With Peter Costello

Prime Minister John Howard took steps on July 11, 2006 to shake off damage from claims that he reneged on a 1994 leadership deal with Peter Costello.

Howard gave a doorstop interview to comment on claims by Ian McLachlan and supported by Costello. He then held a press conference. [Read more…]

McLachlan Claims Howard-Costello Leadership Deal In 1994; Costello Concurs; Howard Demurs

Leadership tensions in the Liberal Party rose on July 10, 2006, with claims by former Defence Minister Ian McLachlan that John Howard and Peter Costello struck a leadership deal in 1994.

McLachlan, the Defence Minister in the first Howard government (1996-98), claimed that Howard offered to stand down as Prime Minister after one and a half terms, if he was able to assume the leadership of the party unopposed in 1995.

McLachlan claimed to have carried around in his wallet for years a piece of paper containing his contemporaneous notes on the deal.

The deal arose out of the collapse of Alexander Downer’s leadership of the Liberal Party in the second half of 1994. Downer and Costello took over the leadership in 1994, defeating John Hewson.

Costello confirmed the McLachlan claims. “His account is entirely accurate,” Costello said. [Read more…]

Howard Shuffles Ministry; Labor Caucus Meets Next Week

John HowardPrime Minister John Howard will announce his second term ministry on Sunday.

Yesterday, the Australian Electoral Commission advised the government that it could now declare that at least 75 seats have been won by the government and Howard accordingly declared the caretaker period of government over.

Coalition members will meet in Canberra this week ahead of Howard’s weekend announcement. The ALP Caucus will meet next week to elect its shadow ministry.

There is at least one vacancy in the ministry, given the retirement of the Defence Minister, Ian McLachlan. Some newspaper reports suggest that Peter Reith may be moved to this portfolio, whilst others predict a promotion for Senator Nick Minchin. [Read more…]