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Dawkins Undermines Hawke on the 'Burke Affair' and ALP Leadership

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John Hewson Leader of the Opposition M e d i a R e l e a s e


12 May 1991


The ALP Centre Left's strategy for undermining the Hawke

Leadership is clearly emerging. John Dawkins, Mr Keating's unofficial leadership campaign manager, is spearheading it. And the Prime Minister is the target.

The strategy has become clearer by the day since the Centre Left meeting last week when the push for a leadership change was given momentum by the faction.

Today Mr Dawkins started putting the strategy into practice.

On the 'Sunday Program', Mr Dawkins explicitly and deliberately undercut the position which the Prime Minister and Senator Evans have been arguing for weeks in relation to Brian Burke's


For weeks the Prime Minister has been at pains to emphasise that there was nothing inappropriate or inconsistent between Mr Burke giving evidence to the WA Corruption Royal Commission and his continued tenure of the position of Ambassador.

Mr Dawkins today blew the Prime Minister out of the water. In a premeditated way, he unambiguously rejected the Prime

Minister's position when he said:

"... when Brian Burke was before the Commission

explaining his conduct and the conduct of his

Government, he should not have been doing so as an employee of the Federal Government ..."

In saying that, Mr Dawkins not only dumped the Prime Minister. He adopted the very same approach that the Opposition has been putting consistently. The only difference was the motives we each had. Ours derived from Australia's national interests. Mr Dawkins' derived from his desperate attempt to quarantine the damaging political effects of WA Inc to the WA Labor Party and,

in that way, to save his own political skin in that State.

But Mr Dawkins has a wider agenda - to stir the ALP leadership pot. He knows he can do this and get away with it because he

knows the Prime Minister lacks the political courage to pull him into line.



Only a month ago Mr Dawkins directly challenged the Prime

Minister by rejecting the priorities of current Government economic policy. The Prime Minister had the opportunity to end the Dawkins' destabilisation but was too weak to do so.

The result now is that Mr Dawkins continues to take every

opportunity to show how inadequate Mr Hawke's leadership of the ALP really is.

For months now, Mr Dawkins has pursued a single political

strategy - to trigger an ALP leadership challenge, to chart an economic strategy different to the current Government line, and to have himself made Treasurer after Hawke is dumped.

As the Centre Left swings into line behind this strategy, the Hawke Government's leadership group becomes more and more destabilised.

Mr Hawke today has another reason (and another opportunity) to put Mr Dawkins in his place. If - as in the past - he is too

weak to do so he will only have himself to blame for the coming challenge to his leadership and for the policy paralysis that is now afflicting his Government.

Mr Dawkins has consistently flouted Cabinet solidarity. He is now busily and openly working to trigger a leadership challenge. The Prime Minister must do what he should have done weeks ago - he must sack Mr Dawkins.

If he fails to do so, the Prime Minister's own discredited

leadership will invite further open challenges.


For further information contact 06 - 277 4022.