Flat White

Peacock feathers

17 April 2021

12:58 PM

17 April 2021

12:58 PM

Spectator readers are a civilised lot, and no doubt their mothers told them “If you don’t have anything nice to say about anyone, don’t say it”.

It’s in that spirit this quick obituary of Andrew Peacock is offered. The leadership battles of the eighties, particularly 1989 — along with the influence of Joh Bjelke-Petersen on the instability of the federal Nationals, the federal Coalition and even the federal Liberals — can be canvassed elsewhere.

Those wars are long in the past. Generations of politicians have passed through the parliament since they were fought. For better or for worse, the Liberal Party is a party cast in the image of their ultimate victor, John Howard.

Andrew Peacock entered politics 55 years ago this month in a by-election created by the retirement of Sir Robert Menzies, an altogether different era. His ministerial career began 12 prime ministers ago (if you count Kevin Rudd just the once), under John Gorton in 1969.

As stated before, this is but a quick obituary, written in the spirit of nil nisi bonum. Let us simply list four feathers in Andrew Peacock’s cap; acknowledgements of the man.

Peacock’s 1982 challenge to Malcolm Fraser was part inspired by the prime minister’s inaction on economic reform, including the policies advocated by the increasingly influential “dries”.

Peacock defied all expectations — and Bob Hawke’s massive popularity — to gain 16 seats in the newly enlarged House of Representatives in the 1984 election.

In the 1990 election, Peacock won a majority of the vote — 50.10 per cent — only to ultimately fall short of victory over Hawke despite gaining seven seats.

After retiring from the parliament in 1994, Peacock — unlike other former leaders — was no miserable ghost. He served with distinction as Ambassador in Washington and for the rest of his life continued to build and strengthen links between Australia and the United States, his new home and our largest and most significant ally.

Andrew Sharp Peacock, 1939-2021.  

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