Monday, July 31, 2006

Long John Howard

It is all but confirmed that John Howard will not stand aside for Peter Costello to take over the leadership of the Liberal Party or the Prime Ministership. Almost every media outlet in Australia is reporting leaks of a letter Howard sent to senior Libs advising them of his decision. Fairfax are reporting that he'll hold a press conference later today, Monday 31 July.

This will largely put to rest the leadership debate until the 2007 federal election when Labor are sure to revive it and hope to gain some advantage by suggesting Howard won't serve out the term if elected. In a tight race, that will sway some voters but will it be enough? I guess Howard and his supporters think the answer is no; or at least not as many who'd vote Labor if Costello was leader.

Costello must now wonder whether his pre-emptive strike (sanctioned or otherwise) was worth it. At least one commentator, Gerard Henderson (who is close to Howard), speculated that the recent confirmation of a leadership deal between Howard and Costello would likely delay Howard's retirement as Howard would not be chased from office.

If Howard wins a fifth term in government he'll certainly go down in the history books and may even surpass Menzies as the longest serving PM. If he loses, any legacy he'd hoped to secure will be soured.

Interestingly, Howard's last campaign was based on the claim of superior economic management compared with Labor - will this still be true if the Fed Reserve put up the cash rate as expected on Wednesday? A third rate rise in this term of government?

Labor are predictably saying they're happy though I suspect they'd rather the less popular Costello was leading the party in 07.


Anonymous said...

Beazley won't win if IR is the only point of difference between the two parties. The small target strategy cost Beazley the leadership last time, doesn't look like he's learned the lesson.

crasster said...

I know what you mean about Labor wishing for Costello - but played right, the "same old, same old" line of electioneering might actually get some purchase. There is, I believe, a natural limit in Westminster democracies for long-run premierships. The follies of your early administration start piling up so high they eventually overwhelm you.

backin15 said...

He's gone four terms, three is usually one too many... Howard's survived the children overboard scandal, he appears to have escaped any blame for the Wheat Board and we're looking at a third rate rise... his support is down but he's far from a spent force.