Howard was a President of the NSW Young Liberals in the 1960s and politics was a dream career for him. He worked though, as a Solicitor before being elected to the House of Representatives in 1974.
Malcolm Fraser, saw the potential in the younger John Howard when he made him the Minister for Small Business. He was later elevated to Treasurer when Phillip Lynch resigned during the 1977 Elections.
Howard proved a competent Treasurer and an ambitious one. After the 1980 Election Howard wished to implement a broad-based Goods and Services Tax, which was disregarded by Fraser. Howard was inspired by the free-market policies of Margaret Thatcher in Britain and Ronald Reagan in the USA, much discouraged by Fraser. Despite much friction within cabinet, Howard showed impeccable loyalty to Fraser right through until his defeat in 1983.
In 1983, Andrew Peacock defeated John Howard as leader of the Liberal Party, and at this time, many thought Howard would never become leader. In 1985, however a group of Howard supporters canvassed a challenge to Peacock and Howard was installed as leader.
Howard was popular with the electorate and was well ahead in the polls, heading towards the 1987 election. Unfortunately for Howard, the Joh Bjelke Peterson, push for Canberra split the Nationals in Queensland and thus Coalition unity. This was instrumental in Howard's defeat.
In 1989, a group of Liberals calling themselves The Cardinals overthrew Howard's leadership and re-installed Peacock as leader before the 1990 election.
Critics of the opposition often scoffed: "If you can't govern yourselves, you can't govern the country." The 1980s and early 1990s were a decade of waste for the Liberals, as two good leaders wrestled with each other for the spoils of the post-Fraser era.
After the Coalition's defeat in 1990, the Liberal Party sought an outsider. John Hewson, whom impressed in the campaign as Shadow Treasurer, was elevated to leader. He was former adviser to then Treasurer Howard in the early 1980s. Hewson sought to introduce a Goods and Services Tax which proved tricky and complicated leading to his defeat in 1993.
Hewson retained the leadership for sometime, before Alexander Downer replaced him. Howard was once again overlooked and thought finished as an influence in politics.
Downer began to falter in the polls, and stepped down, paving the way for a phoenix like recovery from Howard who was re-made leader in 1995. Howard's experience and steady hand at the ship saw the Liberals win a land slide victory in the 1996 elections.
Howard criticised widely by the chattering classes, must be respected as a man of achievement and Prime Minister whom after tackling so many difficult issues appears to have let nothing stick, perhaps the "Teflon PM".
The Howard Government has faced a number of tricky issues:
Responsibility for Election Commentary taken by A.Molloy, PO Box 669, Double Bay, 2028.