Weasel words at it again.

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Journey Man
Howard might be right to say "no deal was done" but what we really want to know is "was a promise made".

More disgraceful dodging with words from a man that has made a career of it. I assume his promise to Costello was "non core"?

He's hardly the sort of bloke you'd want next to you in the trenches is he?

Or is this just a Liberal party conspiracy to make people feel sorry for Costello and to paint him as a loyal man to enhance his prospects at the next election?

In an explosive statement, Treasurer Peter Costello said John Howard did offer to hand over the Liberal leadership to him after serving 1½ terms as prime minister.

Mr Costello said he had not sought any undertaking on the Liberal leadership, but Mr Howard had made the offer at a meeting with him and former Liberal minister Ian McLachlan in December 1994.

He said Mr McLachlan's account of the meeting was entirely accurate.

He said he would not have said anything about the meeting had Mr McLachlan and Mr Howard not gone on the public record about it.

Mr Costello said that, during the meeting in 1994, Mr Howard asked him not to stand for the Liberal Party leadership.

''... He did not want a vote in the party room," Mr Costello told reporters in Melbourne this afternoon.

I took him at his word: Costello

"He told me that he intended to do 1½ terms as prime minister and then would hand over," he said.

"I did not seek that undertaking, he volunteered and I took him at his word.

"Obviously that did not happen."

It follows claims at the weekend that Mr John Howard gave an undertaking in December 1994 to Mr Costello that, if he became prime minister, he would hand over the leadership after two terms in power.

Mr Costello said although there had been no leadership handover, he had worked to the best of his ability for the Australian public.

Didn't stand on my digs

"I didn't stand on my digs, I continued to work for the government to the best of my ability in the interests of the Australian public,'' he said.

"Whilst this country can be improved, whilst there are still things to be done to make it better, I intend to give it every ounce of energy that I have.''

Mr Costello said he had not encouraged Mr McLachlan to make any revelations about the 1994 meeting.

"But his account is entirely accurate,'' he said.

"That was precisely what happened, they are the full facts of what happened.

Clear recollection

"I have a very clear recollection of the events.

"You can interpret them as you like but that is the full truth of what happened.

"The public is entitled to know the full truth and that is what happened.''

The treasurer said he would not have raised the secret undertaking with Mr Howard if it had not been raised by others.

"I haven't spoken about it from that day to this, I've never spoken about this to anybody and I wouldn't have if Mr McLachlan and Mr Howard hadn't already gone on the public record,'' he said.

Asked if Mr Howard had lied, Mr Costello only said: "I'm telling you what happened. I'm not making any allegations against anybody.''

There was no deal: Howard

Earlier today, Mr Howard rejected claims that he had given an undertaking in December 1994 to Mr Costello that if he became prime minister he would hand over the leadership after two terms in power.

"There was no deal made," Mr Howard told reporters.

Mr McLachlan said that, during the 1994 exchange, Mr Howard told Mr Costello he wanted to be prime minister for only two terms before standing aside for his treasurer.

Mr Howard said there were many discussions about the Liberal Party leadership around late 1994, when Alexander Downer was Opposition leader.

"There were lots of discussions at that time including one at which Mr McLachlan was present,'' Mr Howard said.

"That did not involve the condition of a deal.

"I think everybody should take a bit of a reality check.

"The leadership of the Liberal Party is determined by the more than 100 men and women who make up the parliamentary Liberal Party.

"The leadership of the Liberal Party is not determined by John Howard or Peter Costello."

Not surprised at speculation

Mr Howard said both he and Mr Costello had on several occasions during the past year denied the existence of any deal over the leadership.

He said he was not surprised about the latest round of leadership speculation, and described Mr McLachlan as "a nice man'' who was a good former defence minister.

Mr Howard also denied having misled Australian voters over his retirement plans.

"At the time of the last election, the words I used about my future were exactly the same as the words that I continue to use so I have in no way misled the Australian public,'' he said.

"I said at the time of the last election that I would remain the leader of the Liberal Party so long as the party wanted that and was in the party's best interest."

Mr Howard also refused to comment on suggestions by his close confidant Grahame Morris that he might start thinking about retirement in November this year.

"He is a good friend of mine Grahame Morris. I respect him a lot, I like him. He's been a mate of mine for years,'' Mr Howard said.

"But he is free thinker and makes up his own mind and he forms his own views and he articulates them very well.''



Journey Man
I'm leaning towards Liberal Party driven media frenzy to paint Costello as the loyal leuitenant who has dilligently put service before ambition as a way of grooming him in the mind of the electorate as a worthy PM.


First Grader
That's an interesting spin. Seems plausible.
As I'm surprised that this has come out from Costello as they are usually to smart for this sort of carry on.

The Gronk

Nah it is going to hust the Libs quite a lot I would think. Hopefully the destabilisation will continue for a while yet as I am of the view anything that brings them closer to losing government is a good thing.


First Grader
Did you ever have aspirations to get into politics Mata?

(This is a serious question btw)


Journey Man
I was asked the other day if I'd run for the local Council in a bi-election next month.

I declines but may consider at the next full election.


First Grader
I would like to see it, you may do OK. Hopefully you wouldn't emulate your favourite Polly too much.

But it would be priceless seeing some liberal MP carving you up (trying) and watching the steam come out of your ears. That would get me watching the ABC in the early mornings ;)

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