Need a pick-me-up? Watch tonight’s Four Corners:
Reporter: Liz Jackson
For nearly a year John Howard lived with a spectre of humiliation – the increasing prospect of his government being tossed aside, his own Bennelong seat swamped in a Labor deluge.
At Kirribilli House on election night, November 24, he gathered with family, close friends and staffers to watch the TV coverage – and to witness his own power ebbing away.
He was ready.
“He sort of just said, ‘Well, that’s it then, I’m dead meat‘,” his old right hand man Arthur Sinodinos tells Four Corners.
Howard drove to the Wentworth Hotel and delivered a graceful concession speech to grieving supporters before exiting, grey head slightly bowed. And that was that, after nearly 12 years as PM. To this day he has maintained his public silence.
But now senior colleagues are going public to reveal the machinations behind the scenes as John Howard led them to electoral annihilation. Former allies and long time foes speak candidly about Howard’s role in the defeat.
From the secret Howard-Costello succession “deal” in the mid 1990s, through the big policy gambles on WorkChoices and Kyoto, to the panic Newspoll and leadership angst of last year’s APEC, an array of key insiders – among them Peter Costello, Alexander Downer, Nick Minchin, Tony Abbott, Joe Hockey, Andrew Robb and Arthur Sinodinos – frankly assess the Howard Government’s slide to oblivion.
You’ll feel much, much better.