Claims that Peter Costello was the architect of Julian McGauran’s
defection to the Liberal Party are, to say the least, fanciful. The
nearest any commentator has come to the truth is Christian Kerr. His
reference to Julian McGauran having rung Helen Kroger before ringing
his own leader, Mark Vaile is perilously close to the heart of matters.
The drive to persuade McGauran to desert the National Party came from
the Victorian Liberal Party organisation and its professional staff in
particular who have been working assiduously on McGauran for months.
The deep alienation of the McGauran brothers from the Victorian
National Party and the deep animosity of the Victorian Liberal Party
towards their State counterparts made for fertile grounds of
discontent. Recent behaviour by some of his parliamentary colleagues
made the final break somewhat easier for McGauran.
From McGauran’s point of view, nothing should be read into the timing
however, from the Liberal Party’s viewpoint, only a knave or fool would
suggest that the timing was serendipitous, coming as it did just a day
before Howard announced his Cabinet.
An aspect of McGauran’s departure which has very substantially added to
the fury particularly of the Victorian National Party is the financial
implication. Not only does McGauran have an electorate office in
country Victoria used for State election campaigning, the public
funding attaching to McGauran’s Senate votes plays a very significant
part in financing the Victorian National Party State elections.