How is it that John Howard now finds himself in the present political quagmire? In respect to the immediate problem with Georgiou, Moylan, Baird and Troeth et al, it is instructive to view their commonality. They are collectively either failed or rejected candidates for higher office.

Moylan, once an apple in Howard’s eye, epitomises his appalling political judgement in his choice of women for the Ministry. When her performance became so excruciating that it could no longer be ignored she was dumped.

Moylan’s defiance now of Howard and her damage to the government is the ultimate product of promoting someone beyond their ability. Had Howard never appointed Moylan to the ministry she would have been content in the private knowledge that she had no natural right or qualification for higher office.

However having promoted her, Howard convinced Moylan that she had clearly misjudged her own ability and she rapidly concluded that Howard was right and she wrong. When the inevitable day of reckoning came, Moylan imbued with Howard’s original assessment, was left bitter and confused at what she now saw as his now appalling judgement.

Troeth, a former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister for Agriculture, was subsequently dumped by Howard and she went precariously close to losing her pre-selection. Being dumped from the junior position of Cabinet Secretary is a rare occurrence. Troeth remains angry and bitter.

Georgiou, offered a Parliamentary Secretary’s position when first elected, declined it because having been a big fish in the Victorian pond, he thought himself too grand for such a station. He clearly did not understand that John Winston Howard is not given to forgiving or forgetting those who reject offers of small mercies.

Georgiou is very much misplaced as a member. He is a hopeless local member both in respect to his branches and his constituents. He maintains his endorsement for the reasons I set out in an earlier article. He has grown surly and bitter at the dawning of his permanent place in the scheme of importance and influence. Howard, in his previously badly judged decision to negotiate with him, has unwittingly given him a place in the sun.

Baird, who fancied himself as a successful New South Wales state minister, thought it inevitable and entirely appropriate that he be appointed to the Howard government ministry. Howard neither shares his politics nor his view of his ability. Baird was chuffed when one or two nitwit journalists fleetingly wrote of him in the past as a potential deputy leader to Peter Costello. Aggrieved that Howard does not share his view of his worth, Baird is determined, as when in the State Parliament with the Olympics, to again find his public place in the sun.

Without exception, the dissenters know that they have nothing to lose by embarrassing and perhaps humiliating Howard. They all rather enjoy it. Three of the four are historically from the left and they have the rare opportunity in politics of experiencing the exhilaration of holding the majority of the party to ransom while imposing their personal political views upon it, the parliament and the community. That they are viewed widely in the media as moderates of proper conscience strengthens their sense of righteousness.

Peter Fray

A lot can happen in 3 months.

3 months is a long time in 2020. Join us to make sense of it all.

Get you first 12 weeks of Crikey for just $12. Cancel anytime.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

12 weeks for $12