Tony Eggleton, a former federal director of the Liberal Party and a significant role in the party for four decades, passed away at the age of 91.
In the 1960s, Eggleton worked as the press secretary for Prime Ministers Harold Holt and Robert Menzies. After Holt vanished at Victoria’s Cheviot Beach in December 1967, Eggleton found himself in the national spotlight.
Eggleton took up the role of the government’s spokesperson during a protracted crisis that resulted in a power struggle in Canberra and the ascent of a new prime minister, John Gorton, as the country awaited word of the missing prime minister, whose body was never discovered.
The former press secretary returned from a foreign assignment in 1972, after Labor came to power under Prime Minister Gough Whitlam, to advise the Liberals and help Malcolm Fraser during the November 1975 crisis.
On November 11, when Fraser arrived back at Parliament House following the installation of Governor-General John Kerr as prime minister, Eggleton met him. Then he oversaw the campaign that swiftly brought the Liberals to power.
Fraser and the Liberals won the 1977 and 1980 elections after the 1975 campaign, but Labor won the 1983 election under Bob Hawke.
After the 1990 election, Eggleton resigned from his position as Liberal federal director, however he remained in that position for later campaigns under leaders Andrew Peacock and John Howard.
His life after politics led him to Brussels, where he worked as Care International’s secretary-general.
Eggleton was regarded by opposition leader Peter Dutton as a “champion” of the group.
“Terribly sad to hear the news of Tony Eggleton’s passing last night,” Dutton tweeted on Sunday night.
“Tony was a prominent figure in the Liberal Party for decades and contributed to Australian politics from Menzies to [Liberal leader John] Hewson with his legacy extending beyond politics to international affairs. A remarkable legacy. Vale Tony Eggleton.”
In 1963, Eggleton assisted in establishing the National Press Club in Canberra, where he served as its first president.
He was born in England in 1932, started his career as a reporter, immigrated to Australia, and worked for the Bendigo Advertiser and the ABC. He then joined the Menzies office after serving as the Royal Australian Navy’s press secretary.
Eggleton received acclaim from Brian Loughnane, one of his successors as federal director of the Liberal Party, for his role in creating the International Democratic Union, an association of center-right parties.
“Tony was a hugely influential figure in Australian public life. And also internationally. He was involved in the formation of the International Democrat Union and remained involved for many years,” Loughnane tweeted.