The Found Prime Minister: An Australian Politics wikibox tl

Chapter 1: Introduction
The Found Prime Minister
An Australian Politics wikibox tl

by gaitskellitebevanite

Chapter 1

Harold_Holt_1964.jpg

When Harold Holt succeeded Robert Menzies as Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister the situation had been remarkably different. Menzies had led the Liberal-Country Coalition to seven successive electoral victories, and over 16 years in government. Conservative Premier’s governed the majority of states, and the previous July the Liberals under Robert Askin had ended a 24 year old dynasty of Labor government in Australia’s most populous state – New South Wales. As Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party for the past decade, and Treasurer since 1958, Holt was Menzies’ heir apparent and elected unopposed as Liberal leader.

Holt’s first year in office was one long honeymoon. The Dollar was adopted in February 1966 without any major hitch, and the following month changes to the residency requirements for new immigrants becoming naturalised citizens in effect eliminated what remained of the White Australia Policy. Holt faced a general election that November, with a strong economy and Australia’s involvement in Vietnam being popular the Liberals were always the favourites to win re-election. Holt’s changes were helped even more by the septuagenarian Labor leader Arthur Calwell, who’s commitment to nationalisation, the White Australia Policy and staunch opposition to the Vietnam war seemed more in tune with the Australia of the 1940s than the 1960s. Holt led the Coalition to a victory greater than any that it had experienced under Menzies, with a 40 seat majority in the House of Representatives.

Nineteen sixty seven was to be a much tougher year for the government. In January Calwell had finally retired as Opposition Leader, replaced by his long serving (although not always loyal) Deputy Gough Whitlam. University educated, socially liberal – Whitlam was a different sort of socialist to Calwell, someone who could reach beyond the working class ALP heartlands and appeal to younger, liberal, middle class voters who had grown tired of the Liberal Party. Whitlam regularly bested Holt in debate, and gave Labor the very real prospect of eventually regaining power.

In May Holt suffered another setback when the government’s proposals for Senate reform were rejected in a nationwide referendum. The Corio by-election that July saw Labor’s Gordon Scholes gain a seat the Liberals had held since 1949 on an 11% swing. In October it emerged that ministers were using government aircraft for personal use, the controversy was made worse when the Liberal Senate Leader John Gorton revealed that Holt had inadvertently misled parliament on the matter. The Half Senate election that November was a new low, the Liberals lost two seats and the Democratic Labor Party held the balance of power. Many in the federal Liberal Party began to have serious doubts about Holt’s leadership capacity. On top of this Holt suffered from health difficulties. A shoulder problem had plagued him on and off since youth, and flared up again in late 1967. The Half Senate campaign had been particularly gruelling and had forced him to become reliant on physiotherapy and painkillers.

Holt also faced troubles from within his own party. The leader of his junior coalition partner, and Deputy Prime minister, John McEwen was known to detest the Treasurer, and Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, William McMahon. The feeling was mutual, and was partially due to political differences – McEwen was an interventionist protectionist, McMahon was pro free trade and pro free market – and partially due to a clash of personalities. McMahon was open in declaring his ambition to one day become Prime Minister.

On 12th December 1967 the chief whip Dudley Erwin sent the Prime Minister a short letter:

My Dear Harold

During the last six months of the parliament and to this present time, various members at all levels within the party have expressed to me feelings of disquiet. This same feeling seems to be permeating the electorate and is being followed up in the press.

Do you personally feel that there could be some reason for this attitude? Do you think it is of sufficient importance for me to probe more deeply into these problems, if you feel that, in fact, there are problems? And to make a further report to you?

I am writing to you only in view of what I think is the seriousness of the situation at the moment and to leave it to your evaluation and judgement and to whether you would like a summary of the situation.

Yours sincerely,
Dudley Erwin


On 15th December Holt left Canberra - Erwin’s letter in his briefcase - to relax at his retreat at Portsea, Victoria. He was deeply troubled by the events of recent months: His own performance in government, growing government instability, the threat posed by McMahon, and his own ill health. On the morning of Sunday 17th Holt left to visit Point Nepean. Holt was accompanied by his neighbour (and lover) Marjorie Gillespie, her daughter Vyner, Vyner’s boyfriend Martin and family friend Alan Stewart. It was a hot day, and Holt insisted on cooling off before heading home for lunch. They stopped at Cheviot beach, an exposed beach with a heavy surf. Holt dashed into the water, with Alan Stewart following behind. The sea was rough. Suddenly Stewart saw Holt’s head dip beneath the water.

For a moment a nightmare flashed through his mind, what if the Prime Minister were to drown? Or disappear? He had no bodyguard, and it was only the five of them alone on the beach.

Suddenly Holt’s head reappeared, the Prime Minister was alive. He acknowledged Stewart, and swam back to shore. Australia’s 17th Prime Minister was safe...for now.
 
Chapter 2: Latter Holt Years
Chapter 2

The close shave on Cheviot beach was just another instance of the Prime Minister getting into trouble whilst swimming, but it was the final straw. Holt was no longer allowed to go out on the water without a security detail. Holt returned to Canberra the following week, and on 18th December had saw the Chief Whip Dudley Erwin to discuss the letter Erwin had sent the previous week.

He had suffered political setbacks before. As Treasurer in 1960 he had introduced an deflationary budget, increasing taxation and cutting spending. The budget led to the so called “Holt Jolt”, a brief recession and a spike in unemployment. Holt’s measures were blamed by many for the governments near defeat at the 1961 federal election, and there had been calls for Holt’s dismissal. However Harold had pulled through, the economy had recovered, the government had been returned with an increased majority in 1963. Holt was confident that the current political difficulties would be overcome.

However Holt proved unable to quell discontent within his own party. Leaking from within cabinet became more and more prevalent. At a cabinet meeting on 15th March 1968 Holt addressed leadership tensions directly, and called upon any ministers who disapproved of his style of governing to resign. Remarkably William McMahon announced his resignation, and before leaving the meeting announced his intention to challenge Holt for the Liberal leadership. The ballot was held four days later.

1968 liberal leadership (Holt Lives).png

The result solved nothing. The federal caucus had confidence in Holt as leader, but over 1/3rd did not. The government remained unstable, and McMahon remained Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party from the backbenches. Holt one of his protégés, the up and coming minister Billy Snedden, as McMahon’s replacement as Treasurer. At 41 years old Snedden was the youngest Treasurer since Stanley Bruce, and his appointment appeared to indicate Holt’s own preference for Snedden as his eventual successor.

The war in Vietnam became increasingly unpopular through the course of 1968 and 1969. By-elections showed a strong swing towards Labor, and through 1969 speculation mounted that Holt would be challenged again for the leadership. However no such challenge arose, it was still considered treasonous to force a leadership spill during an election year.

Whilst the Coalition was going into meltdown, the feeling amongst the opposition was one of optimism. Whitlam’s reforms weakened the power of union leaders within the ALP, and strengthened the sovereignty of the federal parliamentary caucus. He had begun to create a formal shadow cabinet rather than an informal frontbench, and continually lambasted Holt in parliamentary debate. Whitlam had overcome opposition from within the ALP – albeit by the skin of his teeth. In 1968 resigned and re-contested the leadership during a dispute with the Federal Executive, defeating his challenger, the left winger Jim Cairns, by 38 votes to 32.

At the 1969 federal conference Labor had adopted the most ambitious platform any Australian party had held for thirty years, pledging to introduce universal healthcare, state aid for schools regardless of religion and a national urban development scheme. In foreign affairs the party was committed to remove all Australian combat troops from Vietnam by July 1970 and recognising the Peoples Republic of China. Whitlam was also buoyed by the support of the press, particularly the press baron Rupert Murdoch.

Labor’s optimism encouraged Holt to delay the election in the hope of mounting a recovery. An election was not technically due until March 1970, but extending the parliament into a fourth calendar year wasn’t politically plausible. Instead Holt opted for December. The Liberal’s election campaign never really got off the ground. Holt, a natural people pleaser and conciliator, was always uncomfortable when dealing with hecklers and anti-war protesters. Perhaps this is why younger liberal faces, such as Snedden, Malcolm Fraser and Andrew Peacock featured nearly as heavily in the campaign as the Prime Minister himself.

Despite the travails of the previous three years the Coalition remained quietly confident of retaining government, albeit with a substantially reduced majority. Labor too shared the view that Holt would be re-elected, with Whitlam privately forecasting a swing of about 15 seats in Labor’s favour, mostly from New South Wales and South Australia. However the swing proved to be even beyond Whitlam’s own expectations, and it was clear from early counting that the government had been defeated. Edward Gough Whitlam was sworn into office with his ministry on 12th December 1969. It was, indeed Time.

1969 election (Holt Lives).png
 
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Chapter3: 1971 Double Dissolution
Chapter 3

Gough Whitlam was sworn in as Australia’s 18th Prime Minister on 12th December 1969, almost exactly 20 years after Labor’s last Prime Minister, Ben Chifley, left office. Chifley had been an ambitious and reforming PM, he’d laid the groundwork for Australia’s welfare state, he’d begun the Snowy Mountains Scheme and he’d been responsible for initiating one of the most extensive immigration programmes in world history. Whitlam had his own vision of Australia that was no less ambitious than Chifley’s.

The 1969 victory had taken Whitlam by surprise. Since becoming Labor leader in February 1967 he had sketched out a two election plan, using the 1969 election as a springboard for the ALP returning to power in 1972. The 1969 election also saw a major generation change in Labor MHR’s, with 31 of the 66 ALP members had been elected for the first time, as such this gave the new Prime Minister an extraordinary amount of power within caucus. At Whitlam’s behest a caucus meeting on 10th December had narrowly voted to abandon Labor’s traditional policy of having all minister sit in cabinet, and adopted the approach taken by the previous government in having an inner and outer cabinet. This shrunk the size of cabinet from an unwieldy 27 members to a much smaller 13.

Whitlam was keen to swiftly turn policy into legislation. The government formally abolished the death penalty, established legal aid, abolished university tuition fees and recognised the Peoples Republic of China. With regards to Vietnam there were greater difficulties, and open hostility from the Nixon administration as well as logistical difficulties meant that the government missed its July 1970 target for the total withdrawal of all Australian personnel in combat areas, although a total withdrawal was completed later in the year.

While Labor was settling into governing, the Liberals were licking their wounds in opposition. Holt himself was unsure whether to contest the leadership when the new parliament returned to Canberra, however he was eventually persuaded not to when his supporters let it be known he didn’t have the numbers to survive a challenge. Another potential candidate, John Gorton, was undermined by the fact he had been unable to secure pre-selection for a seat in the lower house. He opted to stand for the Deputy Leadership instead. The candidates instead were McMahon, Snedden, and former Minister for Labour Les Bury.

1969 liberal leadership (Holt Lives).png
John Gorton subsequently defeated Snedden and Jim Killen to be elected Deputy Leader. John McEwen retired as Country Party leader in February 1970, with Doug Anthony defeating Ian Sinclair to become his successor.

Together the Coalition parties and the DLP held a majority in the Senate. DLP opposition to the government’s foreign policy, particularly recognition of the Peoples Republic of China and withdrawal from Vietnam had made them particularly hostile to Labor. As a consequence the Senate repeatedly blocked legislation, most notably Whitlam’s proposal for universal health insurance under the umbrella of Medibank.

The 1969 federal election had been a House-only election, as the terms of the House of Representatives and the Senate had been out of synchronisation since Robert Menzies’ decision to call a House-only election in 1963. A Half-Senate election was therefore due by the middle of 1971, and there was significant speculation in Canberra that Whitlam would call an election for the House of Representatives as well to bring the two parliamentary terms back into line. However the decision of the opposition in the Senate to block government legislation, particularly Medibank, caused Whitlam to seek an election for all 60 seats in the Senate.

This was combined with the success of the Australia Party, a socially liberal centrist party that had been formed in the run-up to the 1969 election, with independent Tasmanian Senator Reg Turnbull defecting to the party in August 1969. The party had initially organised itself as a voice for disenchanted, anti-Vietnam war Liberal voters, but had since developed into an organisation supporting socially liberal causes, including greater rights for women and minorities. Journalist Alan Fitzgerald had come within a whisker of winning the ACT federal by-election in May 1970, and the party was optimistic of holding Turnbull’s senate seat.

In March 1971 Whitlam asked Governor General Paul Hasluck for a double dissolution election to be held on 15th May. Labor fought the campaign under a slogan previously used by Harold Wilson in Britain “You Known Labor Government Works”, and pointed to the government’s record to date, and the need to end Senate obstructionism in order to better implement the government’s agenda.

The Liberals relished the chance to end Whitlam’s tenure after just 18 months in office. However the party had spent much of the 1969-71 parliament opposing the government in parliament, and had not sought to develop any significant new policies beyond turning the clock back to 1969. Indeed McMahon’s election policy speech was almost entirely devoted to criticising the ALP rather than presenting an alternative platform. McMahon himself, whilst a master of factional political intrigue, was a poor television performer, and like Holt before him, no match for Whitlam.
1971 election mkII (Holt Lives).png

In the event the election saw Labor not only retain their majority in the House but extend it – in an enlarged House of Representatives – with ALP losses in Queensland compensated by gains in Victoria. Whilst the government still did not have a majority in the Senate, neither did the Coalition, with the Australia Party and independent Michael Townley holding the balance of power.

Australian Senate 1971-1973
29 - ALP
25-Coalition
3 - Democratic Labor
2 - Australia Party
1- Independent
 
Mmm, interesting. No Gorton term in office? Shame. No ALP problems with the Public Service mandarins?

Interestingly, the Vietnam War was popular with voters. Conscription wasn't. It was the conscription of their sons which turn people off of the war. It was conscription that made women form "SOS - Save Our Sons" and which fomented so much opposition from the Uni students.
 
I'm always excited to see any Australian TL at all, let alone such a clearly well-researched one as this. A functioning Whitlam ministry? Consider me subscribed!
 
Mmm, interesting. No Gorton term in office? Shame. No ALP problems with the Public Service mandarins?

Interestingly, the Vietnam War was popular with voters. Conscription wasn't. It was the conscription of their sons which turn people off of the war. It was conscription that made women form "SOS - Save Our Sons" and which fomented so much opposition from the Uni students.
Holt's death gave Gorton the opportunity to take a seat in the House of Reps OTL, he's a less attractive leadership candidate as a Senator. I've not been able to find out much about Gorton's attempts to gain preselection before Holt's death, in this TL he's stuck as leader of the senate.

You're right I realise now I haven't mentioned conscription specifically, will amend. A lot of the difficulties the OTL Whitlam government faced were due to when Labor came to power. 1972 was right at the end of the post war economic boom, after barely a year in office the world faced a serious energy crisis. Also Labor became impatient in opposition in the 69-72 term, consequently Whitlam was anxious to implement as much of the governments agenda as quickly as possible, tried to change the face of Australia completely in just three years, this TL's Whitlam is a little more cautious. In this TL Labor comes to power somewhat unexpectedly (the extent of the OTL ALP gains in 1969 surprised Whitlam, let alone actually winning government), there is no duumvirate. The loans affair, the Gair affair and the Morosi affair are all butterflied away.

I'm always excited to see any Australian TL at all, let alone such a clearly well-researched one as this. A functioning Whitlam ministry? Consider me subscribed!
Thanks! Aim to have another update up soon
 
Holt's death gave Gorton the opportunity to take a seat in the House of Reps OTL, he's a less attractive leadership candidate as a Senator. I've not been able to find out much about Gorton's attempts to gain preselection before Holt's death, in this TL he's stuck as leader of the senate.
Well, he was very much a compromise leader. Black Jack McEwan threatened ending of the coalition if McMahon was selected as the Liberal's leader. He hated McMahon because of his perceived traitorous betrayal of Australian interests to the Japanese over trade. There was apparently an ASIO report on the subject in Holt's briefcase at Portsea. Two ASIO Agents were dispatched to recover it with instructions to "break into the holiday house if necessary to recover it." So, Gorton was chosen as the alternative. Being a Senator that of course lead to complications because the PM has to be from the House. So Gorton was basically given Holt's seat and a bye-election was hurriedly organised. Gorton was an interesting character and supposedly the only PM to vote against himself as leader in the leadership spill that put McMahon in. Apparently the result was close enough him to say that, "Right, you bastards don't want me, I don't want you." And he voted against himself with a deciding vote.

You're right I realise now I haven't mentioned conscription specifically, will amend. A lot of the difficulties the OTL Whitlam government faced were due to when Labor came to power. 1972 was right at the end of the post war economic boom, after barely a year in office the world faced a serious energy crisis. Also Labor became impatient in opposition in the 69-72 term, consequently Whitlam was anxious to implement as much of the governments agenda as quickly as possible, tried to change the face of Australia completely in just three years, this TL's Whitlam is a little more cautious. In this TL Labor comes to power somewhat unexpectedly (the extent of the OTL ALP gains in 1969 surprised Whitlam, let alone actually winning government), there is no duumvirate. The loans affair, the Gair affair and the Morosi affair are all butterflied away.
There was also a great deal of resistance because the Mandarins weren't as politically neutral as they should have been and so they worked against Gough's Government. He introduced contracts for the upper levels of the Public Service. Basically he caused quite a shake up in the upper ranks of Canberra.

Conscription is an odd issue. Most people used to say they were in favour of the Vietnam War but were against conscripts fighting it. The conscription referenda of WWI were still in the memories of many people and they were against the idea of compelling people to fight overseas. Given a choice they preferred people to volunteer to fight. This gave rise to first SOS - Save Our Sons and similar movements amongst working and middle class families and then the students didn't like the idea of fighting overseas without a choice. The myth perpetuated by the military was that everybody was given a choice but in reality no one had a choice with whole units being "volunteered" by their commanders without any discussion. The end result was a divided nation. You had the conservative's favouring conscription and the progressives opposing it. It was nearly decided in 1969 the year of "Don's Party" and finally in 1972 with "It's Time". The Liberals were too conservative for the most part and were tired after 23 years in government. The ALP were fresh and it showed.
 
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Chapter 4 - Giving Gough a Fair Go
Chapter 4

The 1971 double dissolution gave the Labor government the authority to implement its proposed agenda in full, as Whitlam was to later say “Before May 1971 we were in office, after May 1971 we were in power”. The Medibank legislation passed the Senate – with several amendments – with the support of the Australia Party.

The government adopted a more nationalist line, Advance Australia Fair formally replaced God Save the Queen as Australia’s national anthem in 1972, the imperial honours system was abolished. Minerals Minister Rex Connor, with the Prime Minister’s tacit support, advocated federally funded infrastructure projects and taking Australia’s natural resources under state ownership. Connor’s views were particularly unpopular with conservative state Premiers, in power in every state except South Australia and Tasmania.

In 1972 Labor were able to introduce a national superannuation scheme, despite some disquiet from employers. Whitlam’s ambitious plans for urban development were seen as an infringement of states rights by premiers, particularly Queensland’s John Bjelke-Petersen. Grants for schools were significantly increased, as well as unemployment benefits.

McMahon announced his intention to resign as Liberal leader the Sunday following the election, with the ballot being held the following week. Both Snedden and Gorton stood – the latter having resigned from the Senate after being elected for the Division of Chisholm in July 1970. After the 1969 defeat caucus had chosen the older man, with more parliamentary experience. This time they chose the younger of the two candidates, with Snedden being elected by a wide margin. There was also factional opposition to Gorton, with both McMahon and Holt privately lobbying for Snedden.

1971 liberal leadership (Holt Lives).png

Snedden moved to create a more ‘liberal’ Liberal Party, shifting the party towards the political centre to appeal to those voters that had deserted the Liberals for the Australia Party. The Liberals even voted for Labor’s Equal Pay legislation in an attempt to court women voters. Under Snedden the Liberals also embraced elements of economic liberalism, with the libertarian minded shadow treasurer Philip Lynch producing the policy document “A Fair Future for All” in August 1972 that advocated cuts to income tax and the creation of a goods and services tax, as well as a reduction of tariffs.

The Half-Senate election in December 1972 saw the Coalition make gains, although this was largely at the expense of the DLP, which lost its remaining Senate representation. The Australia Party still held the balance of power.

Senate from 1st July 1973

29-Coalition
28-Labor
2-Australia Party
1-Independent

The oil crisis of October 1973 presented serious economic problems for the government, and marked an end of the post-war economic boom. The government’s popularity had been in decline since 1972, however the economic crisis saw a significant dip in the governments approval rating. Plans for a snap election in late 1973 were consequently ditched, and the government entered 1974 clearly on the back foot.

In the event the 1974 election was a close run thing. As in 1971 Labor ran a strong campaign with Whitlam’s personal leadership at the centre of it, although Labor’s suggestion of a US style leadership debate was rejected by Snedden. Snedden himself was never really able to escape the image of being seen as a political lightweight, and was scarcely a better television performer than McMahon. However the message of “Its Time” that had struck so strongly with the Australian electorate in 1969 now seemed tired and worn out. Concerns about the economy and a general desire for change led the Coalition to a 10 seat swing in its favour, and made Billy Mackie Snedden Australia’s 19th Prime Minister.

1974 election (Holt Lives).png
 
Gough may be gone (best PM we ever had if you ask me), but at least it's a more dignified manner than how he left office IOTL. Following this, I'm eager to see where you take the ALP.
 
Gough may be gone (best PM we ever had if you ask me), but at least it's a more dignified manner than how he left office IOTL. Following this, I'm eager to see where you take the ALP.
Thanks!
Loving this TL, I'm keen to see where you take it.

Sad to see Gough go though.
Thanks!

Liking this TL, quite good. Do you think ol' Johnny Howard would be in the wings?
Thanks! Howard will feature in the next update!

The next update, will be up either later today or tommorrow
 
Chapter 5 - Billy don't be a Hero
Chapter 5
Although at 47 Billy Snedden was one of Australia’s youngest Prime Ministers, he was not without considerable experience. He had served as the inaugural President of the Western Australia Young Liberals, and after several failed candidacies in WA successfully moved into Victorian politics. He joined parliament as Member for Bruce in 1955, and served in cabinet under Menzies and Holt as Attorney General, Immigration Minister, and finally, after McMahon’s resignation, Treasurer. Snedden’s government included some old faces like Gorton, Bury and Fairbairn, as well as new ministers, such as Andrew Peacock and Malcolm Fraser. The newly elected member of Bennelong, John Howard, had the distinction of being appointed to the ministry on his first day as a member of parliament, becoming Minister for Trade. John Gorton was challenged and defeated for the Deputy leadership by Snedden ally Phillip Lynch.

Treasurer Philip Lynch unveiled his budget in August, which called for significant cuts in public expenditure, the repeal of Medibank, cuts in federal grants to states and abandoning the Whitlam government’s ambitious plans for urban development. The income tax cuts proposed at the election were postponed. Lynch described it as a crisis budget, dubbed “The War against Inflation”. The measures proved to be incredibly unpopular, and quickly brought to an end the government’s honeymoon.

In November 1974 Whitlam was challenged for the Labor leadership by former Education Minister Jim Cairns. Whitlam was re-elected by a comfortable margin.

1974 labor leadership (Holt Lives).png

Lance Barnard defeated Tom Uren to be re-elected Deputy Leader by a narrow margin.

The December 1975 Half-Senate election was a referendum on the Snedden government’s first 18 months in office, the result of which failed to fill many Liberals with enthusiasm. Control of the Senate swung even further away form the government.

Australian Senate from 1st July 1976


32-Labor
28-Coalition
3-Australia Party
1-Independent

The Half-Senate result, combined with serious seat losses in both the New South Wales and Victorian state elections increased pressure on the Snedden government to change tack, and take the fight to Whitlam. In late March 1976 Liberal Whip Don Cameron visited Snedden, just as Dudley Erwin had visited Harold Holt nearly a decade earlier. It was made clear that there was discontent on the Liberal backbenches, and a real fear that the government might be a “one-term wonder”. Many Liberals had come to view the decision not to remove Holt as leader in 1968 as a mistake, and that had the Coalition been led by either John Gorton or Paul Hasluck the government would have been re-elected. There was a determination not to make the same mistake twice.

Snedden called a party room meeting for April 12th 1976, and an open debate on the leadership was held. Snedden supporters included Phillip Lynch, Don Chipp and Andrew Peacock, whilst Foreign Minister Malcolm Fraser was the only cabinet minister to openly call on Snedden to resign his support amongst backbenchers had ebbed away. This, combined with Country Party Leader Doug Anthony's increasingly lukewarm support for his continued leadership led to Snedden's narrow defeat in the party room.

1976 liberal vonc.png

A ballot was then held to elect Snedden’s successor, both Phillip Lynch and Malcolm Fraser stood. Fraser was considered the better speaker, and someone who could better regain control of the political initiative, however his support for Snedden's removal was considered by many a breach of party integrity. As Fraser was to later write "He who wields the knife never wears the crown".

1976 liberal leadership (Holt Lives).png

Phillip Lynch therefore became Australia's 20th Prime Minister, and the fifth Leader of the federal Liberal Party in ten years.
 
Phil "Toe Cutter" Lynch, PM? Oh, dear we really are on a downward spiral after Gough's reign. He didn't get the name "Toe Cutter" for nothing. He was ruthless amongst his own party members when he was Whip.
 
Phil "Toe Cutter" Lynch, PM? Oh, dear we really are on a downward spiral after Gough's reign. He didn't get the name "Toe Cutter" for nothing. He was ruthless amongst his own party members when he was Whip.
Not to mention his own dodgy personal tax affairs - surely scandal baud. Maybe we even see the Liberals caught up in a Dismissal here rather than Whitlam.
 
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