‘You Can’t Handle The Truth’, Or, Howard’s Prime Ministerial Promise to Costello

Whatever happens at the end of the week in terms of the Liberal Party leadership, there is simply no way that the relationship between the Prime Minister and the Treasurer could be considered cordial. The implications of this breakdown in the relationship between players are probably minor – it is unlikely that Costello will directly challenge the leadership, and even if he does, there’s still doubt any challenge would be successful – but it does raise a sense of doubt in Howard amongst the general populace. It would be strange indeed, if what brought down Howard was a late-night promise he made in Opposition in 1994, rather than the myriad of inaccuracies or unsupported claims he has expressed since he has been Prime Minister – from the children overboard affair, to the invasion of Iraq, to the Work Choices legislation (“your rights protected by law!”…. not). But perhaps there is a degree of poetic justice in the notion of Howard losing the public trust by acting in an unAustralian manner, and failing to live up to this ‘undertaking’. Former Liberal leader, John Hewson has said that if there were a change in leadership of the Liberal Party it would be a death wish for the government. Those who have questioned the policies of Howard over the years will probably be hoping Hewson is right.

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