This press release came out of the CM’s office a few hours ago.
21 July 2005
LEADERSHIP NO-SHOW NOT THE END OF THE MATTER
“Opposition Leader Brendan Smyth hangs on to the Liberal Party leadership on the strength of his own vote, and knows that every time he opens his mouth from now on, 50 per cent of his party room is waiting for him to make a mistake,” Chief Minister Jon Stanhope said today.
“Mr Smyth knows that when he speaks in future, he speaks for just half of the Parliamentary Liberal Party in the ACT. History tells us that it is not an entirely comfortable sensation. Nor is it one that can be borne for long. It is hard not to draw parallels with Federal Liberal Leader John Gorton, who eventually brought a similar predicament to a head by voting against himself in a party-room challenge, becoming the first Australian Prime Minister to vote himself out of office.”
Mr Stanhope said the fact that today’s Liberal party-room meeting ended without a formal challenge or a reshuffle would do nothing to quell leadership speculation, though it might give leadership pretender Richard Mulcahy’s supporters pause for thought.
“After allowing speculation to flow untrammelled for days, it seems that Mr Mulcahy experienced an uncharacteristic flash of self-doubt at the last moment. But no-one, inside or outside the party, will believe that today’s meeting is the end of the matter,” Mr Stanhope said.