Not many people outside the ACT would have even heard of TheCanberra Times spin off, The Public Sector Informant – but it’s a great read for nutters for public administration.

The
November issue carries a rather late review of Tom Frame’s biography of
Harold Holt by Jon Gaul. Who’s he? He’s one of those below the radar
lobbyist types – a former journo who’s worked on 14 Liberal federal
election campaigns. Someone who’s been around.

Gaul’s review
contains this interesting line: “Holt was no political hard man like
Fraser or Keating…” Malcolm Fraser? Isn’t he a rent-a-bleeding heart?
Well, it’s hard to escape the reminders today about how he held his
nerve in the greatest act of political brinkmanship Australia has ever
seen 30 years ago.

But what hasn’t been talked about is the hard
man act Malcolm Fraser was working on last year. Fraser didn’t have a
particularly successful relationship with his treasurers, Philip Lynch
and John Howard – and what relationship he had with the current Prime
Minister has scarcely strengthened over the years.

And in the
last 14 days of the election campaign last year, the phone calls
started to come – talk from what we have to describe as “senior Liberal
sources.” Fraser had his whetstone out – and a group of people standing
round, sharpening their knives.

If Howard lost, his record and
reputation was going to be slashed to ribbons. Some of the band of
conspirators were people who’d like to see the bloke who now holds
Holt’s Victorian seat of Higgins – Peter Costello – heading the Liberal
Party, but the figurehead was the last Liberal prime minister. Malcolm
Fraser. The hard man.