PRECEDENT IN HISTORY
Not so 50 years ago this month, when the elastic-sided boot was on the other foot and the then leader of the Country Party (later re-named National Party), John McEwen, made it public he would not continue in Coalition with the Liberals if one William McMahon became its leader.
Prime Minister Harold Holt had drowned in the surf, but heir apparent McMahon was seen as too much of a free-trader – a neo-con – while McEwen, the farmer, was hard in favour of tariff protection and campaigned against “dumping” of overseas produced goods at low prices in Australia. He thought of McMahon, morally, as a poor kind of man — as a chronic leaker of Government business to journalists.
We also heard, in grubby whispers, he was influenced by the rumours about McMahon being gay, a story famously junked in that vernacular exclamation from McMahon’s wife Sonia:
“Bill’s not a homo!”
The National Party in those days were all for “conservative values”, no exemptions for sexual licence of any kind, even for party leaders.