Australian PM will not serve full term if re-elected

Thursday, September 13, 2007

File photo of Australian Prime Minister, John Howard.
Image: Alex Bakharev..

Speaking on the ABC's 7.30 report on Wednesday, Australian Prime Minister John Howard, admitted that if he is re-elected at the forthcoming election he will not serve a full three-year term as Prime Minister.

The announcement follows a Liberal party meeting early on Wednesday where Mr Howard told his party that they needed to unite behind him before the election amid intense leadership speculation. Mr Howard told his party that he would step aside in favour for treasurer Peter Costello late into his next term if re-elected.

If Howard is re-elected he will enter his fifth consecutive term as Prime Minister. Mr Howard is now aged 68.

Mr Howard told ABC that he needed to be honest with the electorate about his intentions. “I won’t find it easy, if I am re-elected, to retire. I won’t find it the least bit easy because I am very committed to this job and I will not like leaving it. But everything comes to an end . . . and we must be honest and candid and adult about it,"

"I'm asking people to vote for somebody who levels with them," he said.

The Prime Minister said he still had vision and would step aside only after he achieved what he intended to achieve. "If the Australian people are good enough and kind enough to re-elect me again, there are a lot of things I want to do and I would want to approach those things with enormous energy,"

"But I would expect, well into my term, that after those things have been implemented and bedded down I would probably or certainly form the view well into my term that it will make sense for me to retire,"

"I would expect, although it would be a matter for the party to determine, that Peter would take over. That's the honest position."

Julia Gillard, deputy leader of the Labor Party, which is in opposition to Howard's coalition said that Mr Howard has no plans for the country's future.

"I saw a man who didn't have plans for this nation's future, other than asking to be re-elected so that he can retire."

"The Prime Minister's revealed his plans for retirement but he hasn't revealed his long-term agenda for this country's future, and how can you have a long-term agenda when you're not staying for the long term?" said Ms Gillard.