It could so easily have gone the other way, after all. For seventeen days, all of Australia (and not a few of Australia’s trading partners) hung in suspense, waiting to see which way Bob Katter, Tony Windsor and Rob Oakeshott would jump. (Which way Tony Crook, Adam Bandt and Andrew Wilkie would jump was assumed – and correctly – from the outset by the media.)
What if they had jumped the other way?
It’s not as far out as it sounds.
You see, back in 1968, Ronald Reagan was the Governor of California. And like governors do, he attended a Governors’ conference that year. At this conference, one of the other governors – Lester Maddox of Georgia – bumped against some guy. Just a random accident.
Except that Maddox had bumped against the guy in exactly the right place to find his hidden revolver. The Secret Service arrested the guy, who stated that he was there to kill Reagen…
But what if Lester Maddox had not fortuitously bumped into that would-be assassin?
Howard Holt, the Prime Minister of Australia, went missing while swimming at Cheviot Beach, near Portsea, on December 17, 1967. His body was never found, and he was declared dead two days later. After a brief leadership crisis in the Liberal-National Party coalition, which Holt led, he was succeeded by John Gorton.
But what if he hadn’t died?