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On This Day In 1966: Menzies Retires, Holt Government Takes Office

Having announced his retirement on January 20, Sir Robert Menzies officially departed the prime ministership on this day in 1966. Harold Holt’s first ministry was sworn in at the same time.

It was a historic moment 50 years ago that brought to an end the political career of Australia’s longest-serving prime minister. Menzies had been Prime Minister for two years between April 1939 and August 1941. He formed the Liberal Party in 1944 and served for six years as Opposition Leader before defeating the Chifley Labor government in December 1949.

Menzies went on to win six more elections in 1951, 1954, 1955, 1958, 1961 and 1963. When he retired, he had been prime minister for 16 years and 5 weeks.


Harold Holt took office at the age of 57 with a ministerial career that had started 26 years earlier. He had first served under Menzies in 1940 and had been Treasurer since 1958. [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…]

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…]

1987 Federal Election: Liberal Party TV Advertisements

This is a collection of Liberal Party television advertisements from the 1987 Federal Election.

Bob Hawke’s Labor government was re-elected to its third term on July 11, 1987. It defeated the Coalition led by Liberal leader John Howard and National Party leader Ian Sinclair. [Read more…]

1987 Federal Election: National Party Policy Speech

Ian Sinclair, the leader of the National Party, delivered his policy speech for the 1987 Federal election on June 22.

This was Sinclair’s last policy speech as leader. He was overthrown as leader in 1989.

The television broadcast featured Sinclair’s wife, Rosemary, and the entertainer Carol Raye.

  • Watch Ian Sinclair’s policy speech (10m)

Bob Hawke Announces The 1987 Double Dissolution Election

Prime Minister Bob Hawke rose in the House of Representatives at around 5pm on Wednesday, May 27, 1987 to announce a double dissolution of the parliament and an election on July 11.

Hawke had been prime minister since March 1983. His Labor government was seeking election to a third term.

The Leader of the Opposition was the Liberal Party’s John Howard. He responded to Hawke’s announcement, as did the Leader of the National Party, Ian Sinclair.

The double dissolution election was Australia’s sixth overall and its fourth in 13 years. The Hawke government was returned and Hawke went on to win a fourth election in 1990, before being overthrown by Paul Keating in 1991. John Howard and Ian Sinclair were both toppled as leaders of their parties in 1989. Howard returned as leader in 1995 and went on to win the 1996 election, ultimately becoming the nation’s second longest-serving PM. Sinclair briefly served as Speaker of the House before retiring in 1998.


Statement from Prime Minister Bob Hawke to the House of Representatives.

Mr HAWKE (Prime Minister) —by leave- Within the past two weeks two events have taken place of fundamental significance for the future of Australia. I refer to the May statement and to the Premiers Conference. Those events must be placed firmly in the context of the continuing work of this Government. The great need now is for certainty and continuity. In the past two and a half years and especially in recent months, the people of Australia have demonstrated a willingness to shoulder and share burdens and a sense of responsibility in the face of the huge difficulties imposed upon us by the changes in our terms of trade which have wiped $9 billion from our national economic capacity since December 1984. [Read more…]