Former prime minister John Howard has surprised members of the Liberal Party by unveiling in record time a statue he personally funded to recognise his former leadership rival Andrew Peacock who has died aged 82.
The personal, political, and philosophical rivalry between Mr Peacock – seen as a pragmatic moderate – and Mr Howard – from the more hardline right wing of the Liberal Party – saw their party’s leadership see-saw between them in the 1980s and 1990s until Mr Howard led the Liberals to office in a 1996 landslide against Labor’s Paul Keating.
“I am a great believer in recording history including our political history,” Mr Howard said at the unveiling of the memorial today in Melbourne’s Federation Square. (main picture)
“That’s why I wanted to see a statue of Andrew erected in his home town as soon as possible before people forget what Andrew contributed to Australia and Australian politics.
“This statue on a granite plinth in busy Federation Square encapsulates in a very realistic manner all of the major political, policy, and philosophical reforms Andrew delivered during his long career both inside and outside of our Federal Parliament.”
Mr Howard said the artist responsible for the statue, Brisbane-based Mervyn de Prave, was noted for his “negative space” works.
“It may not be to everyone’s taste but I felt Mervyn’s style fitted perfectly with what I wanted to achieve for Andrew,” he said.
Mr Howard did not disclose the cost of the memorial but said he was happy to foot the bill.