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Learning English - Words in the News
20 July, 2007 - Published 12:24 GMT
New book reopens Australian leadership argument
John Howard
John Howard

In Australia an argument between the Prime Minister, John Howard, and the Treasurer Peter Costello is in the news. At the heart of the argument is a promise which Mr Howard allegedly gave to his deputy, that he would let him take over as Prime Minister after one and a half terms in office. He has now served almost four.
This report from Nick Bryant:

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The row between John Howard and his powerful deputy, Peter Costello, has festered for years, with the Treasurer already publicly accusing the Prime Minister of reneging on a private agreement to step aside after one and a half terms in power.

Now the tensions in their relationship have burst into the open again, thanks to the publication of a new biography of the Australian prime minister.

In it, Mr Costello is outspokenly critical of his colleague's handling of the economy in a previous liberal government. He also bemoans the fact that neither he nor his wife, Tanya, have ever been invited for dinner at The Lodge or Kirribili House, the Prime Minister's official residences, during eleven years in office.

Now, in further published extracts from the book, the Prime Minister's wife Janette has entered the fray, arguing that there was never a deal. 'John wasn't into making firm commitments,' she says of her 68 year old husband.

With an election expected before the end of the year, and with the government already languishing in the polls, both men have tried hard to limit the political damage.

Mr Costello has played down his gripe about not being invited to dinner, saying he was just as happy eating fish and chips on the beach.

Nick Bryant, BBC, Sydney

Listen to the words


has festered
has got worse because it has not been fixed or dealt with

reneged on a private argeeement
didn't do something in public he said privately he would do

to step aside
to give up a job so someone else can do it

the period of time a goverment is elected to serve

outspokenly critical
being very negative in public about someone

bemoans the fact
complains about

has entered the fray
has joined the argument

languishing in the polls
has very low public support compared to other political parties

played down his gripe
said that his complaint is not that serious or important

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