Australia's second longest serving Prime Minister, John Howard, has admitted to being drunk while addressing the country's Parliament after losing leadership of the Liberal Party to Andrew Peacock in 1989.
In a new biography written by Peter van Onselen and Wayne Errington, Howard reveals that he was deeply affected by that event, and often broke down in a tearful apology to staff and sometimes drank too much.
AdvertisementOn one occasion, after over-indulging at a farewell dinner for a close friend in 1990, Howard says he entered the chamber drunk.
"I had a couple of South Australian reds ... I remember that night, yes. I can't dispute the story," news.com.au quotes him as telling the authors of his biography.
The 403-page biography, which hit bookstores on Tuesday, contains damaging comments by Treasurer Peter Costello and has fuelled leadership speculation at a time when Howard continues to battle poor opinion polls.
The latest Newspoll, published yesterday, showed Labor maintaining an election-winning lead over the Coalition and showed a last-ditch switch to Costello could backfire.
Nearly one in three voters said such a change would make them less likely to vote for the Coalition, while 60 per cent of those polled said it would make no difference to their vote.
Howard yesterday ruled out stepping aside for Costello before the next election - even hinting he might still be prime minister in two years' time.
Howard has consistently refused to commit himself to serving a full three-year term if re-elected this year, leading to Opposition claims that he has done a deal with Costello to hand over.
On Tuesday, Howard said the voters would decide who would be prime minister in two years' time.
"If it's a Labor prime minister, it will be Kevin Rudd, and if it's a Liberal prime minister, it's going to be me," Howard told Southern Cross Broadcasting.