New Liberal leadership crisis as wrinkled Holt wades ashore


ScoMo’s job as PM on the line

The leadership of the nation and of the federal Liberal Party is once again in turmoil after former Prime Minister Harold Holt waded ashore at Portsea Beach in Victoria this morning.

A fit, well-tanned, but tired Mr Holt declared he looked forward to getting back to work leading the nation after completing his record 51-year around-the-world swim.
The former PM celebrated his 100th birthday in August but looked like a man half his age.

“Swimming keeps the mind and body taut and alert,” he said at a hastily convened news conference on the beach before wondering aloud where he had parked his red Pontiac and musing about how long it would take him to drive himself back to his Melbourne home. “I have a few loose ends to tie up and then it’s a quick bite to eat with Zara, then straight out to Essendon Airport and onto a TAA Viscount for the three-hour flight to Canberra.

“There’s no time to waste. I left behind a stack of briefs and submissions I was working on when I decide to go for a dip.

“It was pretty rough surf at the time, but I was focused on my swimming so I just kept going. I really should have made contact and told everyone what I was up to, but I wanted to surprise everyone by setting a new non-stop swimming record and I just kept going.”

The return of Mr Holt – previously thought to have disappeared and drowned in heavy seas off Portsea in December 1967 – has generated Australia’s biggest Constitutional crisis since the last one. Governor-General, Sir General (Ret.) Peter Cosgrove, has been locked in meetings with legal experts examining the ramifications of Mr Holt’s reappearance

Senior government sources said Sir Peter was expected to dismiss the Morrison Government later today and recommission Mr Holt to re-form a government — the fifth change of prime minister in a decade. It is understood that a range of legal advice given to Sir Peter shows he has no choice because Mr Holt as Liberal Party leader was never defeated at an election nor in a party room vote.

Mr Holt will be the 31st person to serve as the nation’s prime minister and one of only five people to hold the office more than once.

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