Bill McHarg on taking on John Howard

Former Colliers International chairman Bill McHarg has spoken in depth for the first time about his split from the company he helped create 35 years ago, and what it felt like to take on a political battle with John Howard.

In the next episode of the ABC’s Australian Story, the broker said his high-profile crusade against the former prime minister led to “a lot of discomfort” within the company.

The executive also admits he can see how his climate-change message “might not find favour” with some clients.

His resignation, less than two weeks before last year’s November 24 federal election, was not forced.

Mr McHarg spent almost $200,000 of personal funds on full-page ads in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Daily Telegraph before the election urging Bennelong residents to vote “Planet First, Howard Last”.

Associated imagery depicted a cartoon of the politician playing a violin with the words, “For 11 years, Mr Howard has fiddled. Now Australia burns.”

The pair disagreed in a Q&A at a Business Council of Australia meeting more than a year earlier, Mr Howard eventually claiming Mr McHarg had a “starry-eyed view of the Stern report (on climate change)”.

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Marc Pallisco

A former property analyst and print journalist, Marc is the publisher of