‘A great Australian’: Andrew Peacock dies aged 82
Andrew Peacock, who has died in the United States aged 82, was one of the leading Liberal politicians of his generation, serving for almost five years as Australia's foreign affairs minister and almost defeating Bob Hawke in the 1984 federal election.
Heartfelt tributes and an outpouring of respect have emerged following the death of a titan of Australian politics.
Daughter Ann Peacock said she was "absolutely devastated" by the passing of her "beautiful, loving, most caring thoughtful generous and brilliant father".
"Daddy, love you more than the world, please continue to look after us all. You will live within us forever and ever," she said.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Mr Peacock was a great Australian and a "treasure" of the Liberal Party.
"He was one of our greatest Liberals who helped shape Australia and the Liberal Party over three decades," he said.
"To his wife Penne and his family, Jenny and I extend the sympathies of the government and the Liberal Party."
Former Victorian premier Jeff Kennett told the Herald Sun he was terribly sad to hear the news.
"I have wonderful memories of a long friendship," Mr Kennett said.
"That he did not become prime minister of the country was probably a reflection more of his generous character … than crass ambition."
Former federal opposition leader John Hewson said he "had the highest regard" for Mr Peacock.
"He had a controversial time in politics but I think he would have made a good prime minister in the spirit of Hawke," Dr Hewson said.
Federal Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said: "Australia has lost one of its political greats in Andrew Peacock. Combining style and substance, he left an indelible mark on the Australian political scene.
"He will be remembered fondly by those on both sides of the political aisle as he played his politics as he pursued life with vigour, dignity and the utmost decency."
THE NATURAL CHOICE
Dubbed "the colt from Kooyong" when in 1966 he was chosen at just 27 years old to replace Sir Robert Menzies in his Melbourne electorate, Mr Peacock was from the outset of his career in Canberra marked as a future leader.
Although he was appointed minister for the army at only 30, foreign affairs minister at 36, and leader of the opposition by the time he was 44, Mr Peacock was never able to scale the final height of Australian politics.
An unusually debonair and sophisticated figure for an Australian politician, Mr Peacock was well known for his love of the good life, which included a well-publicised relationship with actor Shirley MacLaine who famously said he was the only politician she had ever known to own a Gucci toothbrush.
This playboy image was to dog Mr Peacock throughout his time in politics.
It didn't help that as the epitome of the Melbourne establishment, Mr Peacock came to the leadership of his party at a time when the centre of power in conservative politics and Australian life was shifting decisively to Sydney.
Although they were to later bury the hatchet, his bitter rivalry with the Sydneysider John Howard came to define his time as Liberal leader.
It was also Mr Peacock's misfortune to come up against an immensely popular national leader in Bob Hawke at the two elections he led the Coalition to defeat.
But, while he was beaten by Mr Hawke at the 1984 and 1990 elections, he wasn't humiliated.
In 1984, Mr Hawke, at the height of his popularity, called an eight-week long campaign, expecting to crush a dispirited Liberal opposition.
Instead, Mr Peacock out-campaigned a prime minister distracted by personal and health issues, and achieved a swing against the Labor government.
In their 1990 rematch Mr Peacock actually won the popular vote, aided by the parlous state of the Victorian economy, but narrowly failed to win a majority.
SILVER SPOON SPECTRE
Andrew Sharp Peacock was born in Melbourne in 1939 into a well-off family.
Educated at Scotch College, where he was vice-captain of the school and Melbourne University where he read law, Mr Peacock was involved in the Liberal Party from an early age.
By the time he was chosen to replace the retiring Mr Menzies in 1966, Mr Peacock was already the president of the party's Victorian Division.
When John Gorton made him a minister three years later in 1969 he was the youngest MP to have held that office.
After Mr Gorton's fall, his successor, William McMahon, made Mr Peacock minister for external territories, which included responsibility for preparing Papua New Guinea - then under Australian rule - for self-government.
When Gough Whitlam came to office, Mr Peacock became a Liberal front bencher, first under Billy Snedden and later Malcolm Fraser.
Upon the Coalition's return to power after the dismissal of the Whitlam government in 1975 he was made foreign affairs minister and briefly environment minister.
In his five years in the post, Mr Peacock became a fixture at international forums but by 1980 was burned out. After the government was re-elected that year he asked Mr Fraser to be move him to a domestic portfolio.
At the same time, Mr Peacock attempted to replace Philip Lynch as Mr Fraser's loyal deputy but was beaten.
Mr Fraser gave him industrial relations but five months later Mr Peacock quit the ministry accusing the PM of interference in his portfolio.
He then challenged Mr Fraser but was easily defeated.
THE COMEBACK KID
Whatever their personal relations might have been, Mr Fraser was willing to let bygones be bygones and restored Mr Peacock to cabinet after 18 months on the backbench.
Four months later the Fraser government was swept from office by Bob Hawke and at 44, Andrew Peacock was elected Liberal Party leader.
Bizarrely, John Howard, the man he had defeated for the job, was elected his deputy.
It wasn't a happy relationship. Less than a year later, he resigned after a bungled attempt to remove Mr Howard as his deputy.
Mr Howard was elected leader.
Mr Peacock returned to his old stomping ground as opposition foreign affairs spokesman but was sacked by Mr Howard in 1987 after a recording was leaked to the press of a foul-mouthed car phone conversation with Victorian state opposition leader Jeff Kennett.
Miraculously, four months later after Mr Howard's defeat by Mr Hawke he was back as deputy leader.
With the economy tanking and Mr Hawke's magic fading fast, the 1990 election was expected to be close. The consensus was that Mr Peacock again campaigned well.
Though he remained in parliament on the front bench for another four years, the 1990 election was Mr Peacock's swan song as a prime.
Originally published as 'A great Australian': Andrew Peacock dies aged 82