Peter out

Queensland Premier Peter Beattie has announced his intention to retire as of Thursday. He will hand the reins to long-established heir presumptive Anna Bligh, who will follow Carmen Lawrence and Joan Kirner to become Australia’s third female premier. This means a by-election looms in Beattie’s seat of Brisbane Central. While this is hard to get excited about (it is all but certain that the Liberals will not field a candidate), it’s interesting to note that Beattie’s margin fell from 25.0 per cent to 19.6 per cent in 2004 and then to 14.8 per cent in 2006. Of greater interest is the symbolism involved in two state premiers recently deciding to quit while at the top of their game, and the contrast presented by the present incumbent of The Lodge.

Author: William Bowe

William Bowe is a Perth-based election analyst and occasional teacher of political science. His blog, The Poll Bludger, has existed in one form or another since 2004, and is one of the most heavily trafficked websites on Australian politics.

446 comments on “Peter out”

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  1. In theory they could still roll him as Leader after the election was called, and presumably the GG could still accept his resignation as PM and swear in someone else.

  2. The PM cannot be forced to quit by his party I thought?

    I think I would be right in saying that Joh B-P is the only leader in living memory who tried to hang onto his commission after being dumped by his party, but even he was forced to come to his rapidly-decaying senses after a few days.

    (Excluding the Hughes split of the ALP of course.)

  3. Only problem putting Tip in, is that the Victorian electorate might want a Victorian PM. It’s been ages since Hawke, and they just might fall for it.

  4. Costello: show some balls and challenge Howard. As others have said, what’s he got to lose? Let’s hope the rodent is dragged out kicking and screaming, with plenty of blood on the floor.

  5. If Howard were to dash to Yarralumla and ask for a dissolution as a means of heading off a party-room challenge, the GG would be within his rights to refuse, and to enquire whether the PM had the support of his colleagues. I think this is getting into fantasy scenarios however.

  6. Where’s Glen when you need him for that extra bit of fun? He is probably writing up a huge post about how there is no problem with the leadership.

  7. What I don’t understand… is how in the name of the good lord does Mr. Howard think ‘discussing leadership with his family’ contributes anything salient to the situation.

    Does he expect us – or anyone – to say to themselves ‘ahh… he discussed it with his family… and if it’s okay with them… it’s okay with me’. This comment from Howard seems to underline just how ridiculous he has become…

    Still, I don’t know whether the Libs would risk a bloody, public execution… and if Howard wants to dig in – I’m not sure how they can get him out without one.

  8. Surely this is disunity is death … and an admission they didn’t get it right late last year? This could not possibly be a good thing could it?

  9. John Rocket [361],

    I would imagine Howard’s Liberal colleagues would be pretty p#ssed off reading in the media how Howard discussed the leadership question with his family and not them!

    Further confirmation of Howard being so arrogant and out of touch.

  10. “Where’s Glen when you need him for that extra bit of fun?”

    He is probably desperately trying to reshape his “experience” argument for why we should only support Howard. Or can we expect that Glen will now be giving his support to Rudd? After all, when Costello or Turnbull become PM, it will be Rudd who has the longest experience as a leader.

  11. Actually, the best scenario for Labor is Howard narrowly winning a party ballot against Costello and a disunited Liberal party!

    Downer and Turnbull tap Howard on; Howard brings on vote; Costello challenges; Howard wins by a vote; Downer, Turnbull and Costello all resign portfolios; Abbott elected new Deputy leader…

    Ok I’ll stop fantasising now 🙂

  12. Howard discussing it with his family means he is seriously considering his options, asnd his family said, we don’t want to spend time with you.

    I still say new PM, whoever he or she may be, should make him Ambassodor to Iraq: he could not refuse such an important post, surely.

  13. yeah, that’s funny Bungs… but what do you think of this scenario – Mr. Howard is ousted _and_ he stays on to contest Bennelong… he can devote his full time and energy to its defence. Sure it would be a comedown- no more Kirribilli, no more airforce at your beck and call… but you never know when you’re party might call you up again, eh?

  14. If Howard resigns or is pushed from PM post, I can’t see him staying on in Bennelong or go to election. i also can’t see the new Lib leader wanting Howard to hang around the backbench all bitter and twisted. just my thoughts.

  15. Oh I am hours behind I’m sure but the GG is sticking to the ‘no tape on the shoulder’ line; when Sky is clearly going with the ‘we are stuffed with you’ line. Of course there is no tap on the shoulder, Turnbull and Downer are just trying to get rid of Costello (by making him PM) and give themselves clean air, and a ‘we told him so’ defence if they lose.

    If the PM pulls it out of the hat can he leave the two of them out of the ministry?

    I like my 9 months of polling stability, I don’t want the ruddslide all messed up.

  16. If Howard is pushed I wouldn’t be surprised if he starts leaking things left right and centre to the press to poison his successor. If there’s one thing the 80s told us it’s that Howard knows how to play dirty.

  17. If you look at the schedule for the the HoR today, and Howard in particular, it looks like he doesn’t have an awful lot of time to devote to the whole leadership business, while Costello, Turnbull and Downer can make their time available for mustering numbers, convincing friends and foes. Howard can’t exactly just leave the Canadian PM to it.

    8:30 AM – 9:30 AM AEST Visit to Australia by RH Stephen Harper, Prime Minster of Canda – Arrival in the Forecourt (HMS 15)
    10:30 AM – 11:15 AM AEST Visit to Australia by RH Stephen Harper, Prime Minster of Canda – Address to the Members and Senators of the Parliament of Australia (HMS 15)
    11:30 AM – 11:50 AM AEST Visit to Australia by RH Stephen Harper, Prime Minster of Canda – Joint Press Conference in the Prime Minister`s Courtyard (HMS 15)
    12:40 PM – 2:00 PM AEST Visit to Australia by RH Stephen Harper, Prime Minster of Canda – Luncheon in the Great Hall (HMS 15)
    2:30 PM Question Time, followed by MPIs, then normal business

  18. Okay, assuming the cleaners have already been booked to mop the blood from the party room axminster tomorrow, it’s time to remind our fellow citizens of Peter Costello’s ideological roots in the HR Nicholls Society.

    Their website is full of IR gems. Here’s a submission from Des Moore to the Fair Pay Commission:

    “I understand that, in reaching its decisions on the minimum wage, the Fair Pay Commission is required not to decide on a decrease in the monetary amount. That is an unfortunate and regrettable constraint that is likely to continue to have the adverse effects on potential employees on low incomes that have resulted from previous irresponsible decisions by the Australian Industrial Relations Commission. However,
    as a poor second best, I submit that the Fair Pay Commission’s first decision on the minimum wage in Spring 2006 should be that there be no increase in the monetary minimum, thereby allowing a reduction in the ratio of the minimum to the median wage. The Commission should also indicate that it intends to continue a policy of no monetary increase.”

    Labor really will have to do a job on Costello, and fast. There’s lots of ammo over there with the ‘Ayatollahs of IR’ thanks to Des Moore and Ray Evans.

  19. Disunity is death. There’s going to be a lot of bitterness from people who really love Howard towards the Liberal party for dumping him so unceremoniously. To do this at this stage is obviously sheer panic. I doubt that the Libs will be able to easily unite under a new leader – there’ll be too much bitterness going around.

  20. Okay, I’m buying stocks in cleaning products. There is going to be blood everywhere, and Labor is going to want to clean the seats of parliament before taking control.

  21. Read this comment on Bolt’s blog which gave me a laugh:

    “Not over yet, but it looks as though you are right. It is not too late for the coalition, and they should come screaming back in the polls, with a change of leader. ”

    The blind faith of some people is just sad…

  22. If only,I wonder if you have heard the rumors that Crosby and Textors media unit are hiring full time trolls? The wonderfully Canute like postings you are writing here would be just the sort of stuff they are looking for.There may be a nice little AWA in it for you.
    Turnbull is a very big risk for the lib hard heads,he is too likely to loose his seat,Costello it is then.

  23. I’ve worked from home up here in the Blue Mountains for nearly 2 years now and for the first time I’m going to allow myself a treat.

    At 2pm today I’m going to switch on the tele and watch question time on the ABC 🙂 It should be hilarious looking at all those Liberal faces.

    I’ll try and give you a body language report shortly after 3pm.

  24. Remember when John Hewson drove Bob Hawke from office and the future belonged to him? Voters are unsentimental, if labor has amde ground on portraying Howard as yesterday’s man than some voters will be pleased with Costello. Could Costello face an alliance of the non-mainstream groups in the Liberal caucus, the wets, the economic rationalists and the Christian conservatives + desperate backbenchers against him?

  25. The prediction that I have been peddling for a few weeks now is that if they stay with Howard the Liberals are looking at a state election type loss of around 55-45.

    With Costello as leader the polls will either go back to a normal 51-49 or blow out to 60-40. Which way they are going to go will be able to be seen from the fist set of polling after Howard resigns.

  26. I “like” Nostradamus method of developing an argument. It consist of picking an event/issue/idea (regardless of how irrelevant it may be) and saying that it means that Rudd will lose and Howard will win. It does not matter how contradictory these conclusion may be.

    Basically Nostradamus says Rudd has “farted” so therefore he will loose and at the same time Howard has “passed wind” so that proves that he will win.

    I would expect better reasoning from a twelve year old.

  27. Wrong Snow [388].

    Go look at the leaked Crosby Textor research. The loss of support for the government has been due to them losing ownership of a range of key issues; not dislike of Howard. So this debacle for the Liberal Party will not be fixed with a quick leadership change at the 11th hour.

    Of the 17 issues that influence the decisions of voters, Rudd now owns 11 of them. Plus the taxpayer funded advertising blitz has failed.

  28. Bennelong update. Movement from 10/9/07 to 11/9/07:

    Sports Acumen:
    Howard: 1.65
    McKew: 2.10
    AOC: 23.00

    Howard: 1.65 → 1.68
    McKew: 2.10 → 2.05
    AOC: 21.00 → 17.00

    Howard: 1.57 → 1.70
    McKew: 2.60 → 2.10
    AOC: 21.00 → 21.00

    Howard: 1.70
    McKew: 2.00
    AOC: 81.00

    Howard: 2.12 → 1.77
    McKew: 1.74 → 1.73
    AOC: 130.00 → 130.00

  29. At the very least if a spill occurs, it will fracture the conservative vote. This will only play into Labor’s hands. Their only hope is if the coup is bloodless and dignified. Knowing how Howard is, I can’t see this happening.

  30. It completely makes no sense. Howard is a popular Prime Minister. Like him or not (and I certainly don’t), approval ratings of 50% are nothing to sneeze at after 10 years. It makes no sense no matter way you look at it.

    But by all means libs… go ahead and change leaders.

  31. You have to love Barnaby Joyce: “There’s no point going to an election if you’re going to lose.” That’s it then, no election.

    Howard on the ABC just now – quite adamant that he is not quitting.

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