Remembering Andrew Peacock, a Liberal leader of intelligence, wit and charm

AAP/Paul Miller

Ian Hancock, Australian National UniversityAndrew Sharp Peacock, for so long “the coming man” of Australian politics, has died in the United States aged 82.

Born in 1939, he was educated at Scotch College, Melbourne, acquired a law degree at the University of Melbourne, where he also met his first wife, Susan Rossiter, the daughter of Victorian Liberal politician Sir John Rossiter.

By the age of 26 he had been president of the Victorian Young Liberals and became president of the Victorian Division of the Liberal Party at a time when Victoria was the Liberals’ “jewel in the crown”.

Liberal warhorses, of whom Senator Magnus Cormack was one, saw Peacock as the future of the Liberal Party. Peacock also gained an impeccable contact with the past when, in 1966, he succeeded Sir Robert Menzies in the seat of Kooyong.

He immediately attracted attention when he arrived in Canberra, where in the Liberal Party Room he experienced the resentment of the envious and of the by-passed.

There was a minor setback when John Gorton in 1968 brought another Victorian, Phillip Lynch, into the ministry, overlooking Peacock who believed Gorton had promised him a promotion. Perhaps surprisingly, 35 years later Peacock was still expressing hurt at being overlooked.

In the parliamentary party, he joined the so-called Mushroom Club with other good friends like Jim Killen, Tom Hughes and Don Chipp, all of whom were expected to advance, and did so.

Gorton promoted Peacock after almost losing the supposedly the unlosable election of 1969. As minister for the army, Peacock found it difficult working under Defence Minister Malcolm Fraser, and would again feel a lasting pain when “Bill” McMahon, with Fraser’s help, displaced Gorton in March 1971.

Peacock survived a McMahon cull of Gorton supporters, performed well as minister for external territories, and stayed on the front bench after Gough Whitlam won the 1972 election.

The “coming man” appeared closer to arrival when Fraser appointed Peacock foreign minister in 1975, a move that benefited Fraser by keeping a potential challenger out of the country.

Read more:
Vale Bob Hawke, a giant of Australian political and industrial history

The job meant Peacock could do what he always did so well: meeting and greeting the high-ranking and influential from around the world. His natural charm, good looks and genuine goodwill, combined with a sympathy for people and an understanding of different countries’ situations, enabled him to work with and alongside Asians and Africans, Europeans, Americans and Pacific Islanders.

Cormack wanted his “pupil” to challenge Fraser for the leadership. Peacock flopped badly when, having previously moved to the seemingly unsuitable portfolio of industrial relations, he did try for the leadership in 1982.

At least he was well placed to succeed Fraser after the Coalition lost the 1983 election to Bob Hawke’s Labor Party. Peacock proceeded to lose two of his own – in 1984 and 1990 – while doing better than expected in adverse circumstances in opposing Hawke.

Critically, however, Peacock exposed a weakness that offset the advantages of intelligence, charm, and apparent self-possession. Beyond proclaiming the shibboleths, it was never clear just what he believed in and what he stood for.

During Peacock’s supposed rivalry with Howard – beneath the surface it was really one between their supporters – one senior moderate Liberal explained his own dilemma:

do I vote for Howard, whose views I dislike, or for Peacock, whose views remain a mystery?

A former federal president from the 1980s once described Peacock as a man who would denounce you in a “vile” manner and then walk through a door, see you, smile broadly and greet you warmly.

After losing in 1990, Peacock drifted towards the exit door of politics and looked more at ease as the Howard-appointed Ambassador to the United States. At the end of his tenure in 2000 he took various positions in business in America and Australia.

So, why did the “coming man” never arrive at the Lodge? Commentators usually scoffed at Peacock’s own explanation that he was never sure he really wanted the top job.

Yet, looking at how he went about his early career in the Liberal Party, where he was striving to advance himself and was not in a mood to accept setbacks, he was not the same man who reached for the party leadership three times in the 1980s.

Peacock with John Howard in 2000.
AAP/Alan Porritt

Unlike Peacock, Fraser and Howard went for the leadership with agendas. They stood, most of the time, for identifiable and consistent positions and they were there for the long haul.

Peacock was probably at his best when he left that world behind him.

He married happily the third time, and through Penne Percy Korth gravitated to a world occupied by the more moderate Republicans. He also had a close relationship with his three daughters.

Beyond appearances, Peacock had the endearing quality of generating a natural warmth, charm and wit.The Conversation

Ian Hancock, School visitor, Australian National University

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

What’s next for Najib Razak, Malaysia’s disgraced former prime minister?

File 20180704 73309 3rd5jf.jpg?ixlib=rb 1.1
Former Malaysian prime minister Najib Razak is greeted by his supporters as he leaves the Kuala Lumpur High Court.
AAP/Ahmad Yusni

James Chin, University of Tasmania

The arrest of Najib Razak, the former prime minister of Malaysia, on Tuesday was widely expected. In fact, many Malaysians were hoping he would be arrested immediately after the ruling party, the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), was defeated in the May 9 election.

Najib was the main reason why UMNO lost – he was widely seen as corrupt and the main person behind the scandal at 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), a state investment fund.

US prosecutors have accused Najib of diverting US$731 million from 1MDB into his personal bank account. Many people assume Najib’s arrest is connected to this fund, but legally speaking, he faces charges relating to a company called SRC international, a one-time subsidiary of 1MDB.

Read more:
Malaysians celebrate the return of Mahathir and hope for a brighter future

SRC took a loan of about US$1 billion from a state-run retirement fund and Najib is alleged to have siphoned off about US$10.5 million from the top. The money allegedly ended up in his bank account, the same account that was implicated in the 1MDB affair.

Najib has denied any wrongdoing, and on Weddnesday pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Why was Najib not charged in the 1MDB probe?
The simple answer is that the 1MDB investigation covers multiple jurisdictions. At the last count, money involved in the 1MDB affair is believed to have passed through the following financial systems: the United States, United Kingdom, Singapore, Switzerland, Australia, Luxembourg, Hong Kong, Thailand, United Arab Emirates, among others.

It is simply not possible to put such a complex case together in such a short amount of time following the election of opposition leader Mahathir Mohamad two months ago.

The good news is that, under the new Mahathir administration, foreign governments will now have access to Malaysian documents related to the 1MDB probe. The US, Singapore and Switzerland are among the countries investigating the scandal. When Najib was in power, all financial institutions in Malaysia refused to cooperate with these foreign probes.

Why is SRC International different?
The key factor here is a star witness, a former director of SRC International who decided to come forward to testify for the prosecution. This individual was too afraid to come forward when Najib was prime minister. That is no longer the case.

There are several key witnesses in the 1MDB scandal who may be thinking along the same lines as the former SRC director. With Najib no longer in control, some of these witnesses may now turn against him, as well.

Top of the list is Jho Low, the accused mastermind of the 1MDB scam. He is believed to be dividing his time between Macau and Taiwan, both places where extradition to Malaysia is not possible.

Read more:
Now that Malaysia has a new government, the real work begins reforming the country

Another important witness under tremendous pressure to come forward is Tim Leissner, the former Southeast Asia chairman for Goldman Sachs, the bank that handled most of the 1MDB bond sales. He was pushed to resign from Goldman Sachs in February 2016, and both Singapore and US securities regulators have banned him from working again in the financial industry.

An interesting side note is that he is better known in the US as the husband of Kimora Lee Simmons, an American model and fashion designer and the former wife of hip hop mogul Russell Simmons.

What’s next in the Najib case?
By charging Najib, the Mahathir administration is keeping an electoral promise to take action against the former leader. But more importantly, the new government is also sending a strong message to Malaysians and the international community that it is serious about cleaning up the mess left by Najib’s government, especially when it comes to corruption.

For Najib, this will likely be the first of many trials he will face, as more charges are expected in the 1MDB case. It’s also likely that Najib’s family members, including his wife, stepson and son-in-law will face charges, as they are alleged to be direct beneficiaries of the stolen funds.

Read more:
Malaysia’s dire democratic crisis

And this will likely bring an end to the Razak political dynasty in Malaysia for the time being. Najib’s father was Malaysia’s second prime minister and many of his immediate relations used to hold political office. Until the election in May, Najib’s cousin, Hishammuddin Hussein, had been Malaysia’s defence minister.

UMNO will also need to shed its associations with Najib in order to rehabilitate its image among the Malaysian people. Last weekend, the party elected a new president, former Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi.

All in all, Najib’s arrest represents a clean break from the past for all of Malaysia. The end of one-party rule has opened up the possibility of a new era of good governance in the country, which was unthinkable just three months ago. In today’s “new” Malaysia, anything is possible – even calling to account a former prime minister who was just defeated.

The ConversationMore importantly, going forward, the Malaysian public will demand full accountability from their leaders, both past and present.

James Chin, Director, Asia Institute Tasmania, University of Tasmania

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Former leader Bob Brown attacks Greens senator Rhiannon’s behaviour on schools

File 20170625 13446 cwhtat
All nine of Lee Rhiannon’s federal colleagues co-signed a letter of complaint that was sent to the Greens’ national council.
Mick Tsikas/AAP

Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra

Former Greens leader Bob Brown accused Lee Rhiannon of “perfidious behaviour”, as the defiant Greens senator fought back against united condemnation from her parliamentary colleagues.

The other nine parliamentary Greens, including eight senators and lower house member Adam Bandt, have written to the party’s national council complaining about Rhiannon who, when the Greens were negotiating with the government on the schools bill, authorised a leaflet urging people to lobby senators to block the legislation.

Brown, a long-time critic of Rhiannon, repeated his previous description of her as “the Greens’ version of Tony Abbott”, and his call for the NSW Greens to replace her at the election with someone more popular and constructive.

He said that while he did not disagree with the Greens ultimately voting against the legislation – because Education Minister Simon Birmingham had done a special deal with the Catholics – the Greens in their negotiations had obtained $A5 billion in extra money.

Education was not Rhiannon’s portfolio – and for her to advocate against the Greens leader Richard Di Natale and its education spokesperson, Sarah Hanson-Young, was “untenable”, Brown said.

The Greens letter said: “We were astounded that senator Rhiannon was engaged with [the leaflet] production and distribution without informing party room at a time when we were under enormous pressure from all sides as we considered our position on the bill”.

It said the leaflet had the potential to damage the negotiations that Di Natale and Hanson-Young were having with the government about billions in extra funding for underfunded public schools.

The Greens’ parliamentary partyroom will consider Rhiannon’s action.

Despite prolonged negotiations with the Greens, the government finally concluded a deal with ten of the other crossbench senators to pass the bill. But the Greens had done much of the heavy lifting to obtain a series of amendments. This included the additional money, which takes the planned total extra federal government spending on Australian schools to $23.5 billion over a decade.

In a statement on Sunday Rhiannon said she rejected allegations she had derailed negotiations and breached “faith of the party and partyroom”.

“I am proud the Greens partyroom decided to vote against the Turnbull government’s school funding legislation. It’s clear that public schools would have been better off under the existing Commonweath-state agreements than they will be under the Turnbull package.”

She said that at all times her actions on education had been faithful to the party’s policy and process, and her work had not impacted on the negotiations.

She defended the leaflets she authorised, saying they were “a good initiative of Greens local groups.

“They highlighted the negative impact the Turnbull funding plan would have on their local public schools.

“Producing such materials are a regular feature of Greens campaigns. These leaflets urged people to lobby all senators to oppose the bill.

The Conversation“I was proud to stand with branches of the Australian Education Union, particularly as the Turnbull school funding plan favoured private schools,” she said.

Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra

This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.

Australian Politics: 13 November 2013 – A Former Prime Minister Retires

Australian Politics: 20 July 2013

The Palmer United Party is just one of many political parties contesting the upcoming federal election. Clive Palmer, founder of the party, intends to be Prime Minister after the election – but what is he like? The link below is to an article reporting on the man behind the party.”>

For more visit:

Ever wondered what life is like for a former Prime Minister? The link below is to an article reporting on life after politics for former Prime Minister Julia Gillard.

For more visit:

Guatemala: Former Leader Guilty of Genocide

The link below is to an article reporting on the guilty finding in the trial of Guatemala’s former leader of genocide.

For more visit:

United Kingdom: Margaret Thatcher Dead

The link below is to an article reporting on the death of Margaret Thatcher, the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom.

For more visit:

Egypt: Hosni Mubarak Clinically Dead

  1. There are conflicting reports coming out of Egypt concerning former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak. Recent reports indicate that he is clinically dead, others that he is unconscious following a stroke.

Cults: The Family International

The Group Formerly Known as the Children of God Cleaning Up Their Act

The following article reports on reforms taking place within the former Children of God sect, now known as The Family International (TFI).