Despite being described as ‘a remarkably successful partnership’ by John Howard and a ‘triumph of trust’ by his counterpart, Nationals leader and Deputy Prime Minister John Anderson, the art of coalition government is a delicate (and sometimes difficult) balancing of policy, politics and personalities. The relationship between the Liberal and Nationals parties ensured the Howard Government’s stability and provided a solid foundation for its legislative program between 1996 and 2007. While the Coalition partnership has been pivotal to Australian politics since the Second World War, under the Howard prime ministership — despite occasional tensions — the two parties changed key aspects of Australian life through gun control, telecommunications and taxation reform, and balancing the budget.
In The Art of Coalition, Tom Frame, Zareh Ghazarian, Linda Courtenay Botterill, Paul Davey, Joel Fitzgibbon, Tony Abbott and others convey the complexities of maintaining a strong political partnership, and the importance of trust in an effective coalition.
‘This book is a valuable account of one of the successes of the Howard era – Coalition relations in office – with contributions from participants and commentators. It is more illuminating than ever given the more recent experience pointing to deepening difficulties between the coalition partners.’ — Paul Kelly
‘There are few aspects of the government I led that have been more consistently overlooked in academic scholarship than the highly effective coalition between the Liberal and National parties. This collection of perspectives is a timely reminder of the importance of consensus and co-operation in the pursuit of the national interest and the public good.’ — John Howard