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Costello cashes in his chips

September 12th, 2008

Assuming that he was pursuing a consistent plan at all, Peter Costello’s months of coyness about possible leadership aspirations now appear to have been designed to ensure a big splash for his memoirs. Presumably, his departure from Parliament won’t be long delayed and (while you should never say never) it seems that his political career is over.

Unlike with Howard, I’ve never really rated Costello. Undoubtedly he’s a sharp debater and has the good lawyer’s capacity to get on top of a brief, but in his twelve years or so as Treasurer, I didn’t see anything to suggest that he really understood economics or thought much about economic policy. His near-silence since losing office, despite repeated Labor attacks on his legacy seems to me to confirm this. Without the backup of Treasury and staffers, he doesn’t seem able to mount an effective argument (or maybe he just can’t be bothered). Perhaps his book will tell a different story though – I certainly expect it to sell pretty well given the promised bagging of so many colleagues.

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  1. September 12th, 2008 at 10:53 | #1

    “Peter Costello’s months of coyness about possible leadership aspirations now appear to have been designed to ensure a big splash for his memoirs”.

    I would expect it started out as keeping his options open while he firmed them up, rather than being aimed at that particular option from the outset.

  2. Tim M
    September 12th, 2008 at 11:33 | #2

    Hopefully this will bring to an end what has surely been the most absurd orgy of speculation indulged in by the press gallery in recent years. There was never any good reason to imagine that Costello would take up the leadership of the Opposition, let alone that he would do them any good.

  3. Mark U
    September 12th, 2008 at 12:12 | #3

    He is hardly going to make much money from his memoirs. He probably wanted to maximise publicity to avoid the book being remaindered as quickly as Latham’s.

  4. Father Mercy
    September 12th, 2008 at 14:58 | #4

    Big Pete’s tome will find its way into the fantasy and fiction section of your local bookshop. It will join all the others written by ex-politicians who have managed to turn self-aggrandisment into an art form. Irreverently crammed into the shelves of your local bookseller are books on how to save the world by one of our ex-PMs, another sets out the blueprint for becoming the world’s greatest treasurer while another invites us into the private world of an ex-Premier and informs us about his reading habits.

    Pete, the Liberal lachrymist will attempt to mesmerize us with his stories about financial acumen. I’ll bet the rest of the world is envious knowing that we have so much political talent.

  5. Superannuated Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer
    September 12th, 2008 at 15:18 | #5

    I think there’s also some old-fashioned attention-seeking there. Any recent ex-govt suffers from attention deprivation, and his wink wink preening was just for attention, to get people to again talk about what a fantatic politician he is.

  6. September 12th, 2008 at 15:20 | #6

    I think Nelson may have benefited from the speculation about Costello’s leadership. While the speculation continued, there was less chance of a spill in favour of Turnbull.

  7. rog
    September 12th, 2008 at 17:43 | #7

    Never say never?

  8. gerard
    September 12th, 2008 at 20:17 | #8

    Latham’s book was great. Would that all party hacks could be so honest for once.

  9. melanie
    September 12th, 2008 at 21:21 | #9

    #5 your name is getting incredibly long. Could there be yet more to add?

    I’ve always found the press gallery a bit hard to understand. What’s in it for them in promoting Costello’s book so assiduously? Or, putting it another way, why are they so relentlessly focused on personal stuff instead of the politics?

    Do all capital cities suffer from this hothouse kind of atmosphere?

  10. Arjay
    September 12th, 2008 at 21:23 | #10

    It seems that John Howard was a good judge of character.Costello did not have the stomach for the long hard haul.Regardless of how much you despise Howard and his philosophy,he had the grit and determination to achieve his goals.

  11. swio
    September 12th, 2008 at 22:11 | #11

    “All tip and no iceberg”

    Short, sharp and accurate. However the real bite is the fact that it is also complete. Someone who really mattered could never be described in just five words.

  12. observa
    September 13th, 2008 at 06:06 | #12

    “It seems that John Howard was a good judge of character.Costello did not have the stomach for the long hard haul.”
    He’s been an MP for 18 years and was Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party for 13 and I would have thought being Treasurer in Govt for so long is not exactly some brief shooting star. Burnout in our politicians has become somewhat problematic of late if you look carefully and we may be judging Costello somewhat harshly there because of his obvious juxtaposition with Howard. Not every AFL player is a Robert Harvey either.

  13. Ikonoclast
    September 13th, 2008 at 06:07 | #13

    The politicians and the press gallery are vying with each other for the titles of “most venal”, “most facile”, “most pompous” etc etc.

    The title “most pompous” is certainly up for grabs again since Lord Alex Title Truncated retired. “Most facile” has been fiercely contended for some time now by Brainless Big Pete Costello and Janet Hot Hideology Albrechtsen. Synchronised Stupidity has been turned into an art form by the NSW Labor party.

    But PM on the ABC really got to me when the male announcer (forget his name) came on breathlessly wondering why the Peter Costello story wouldn’t go away.

    “Maybe it’s because you expletive deleted idiots keep giving him oxygen,” I screamed as I turned my car radio off. Then I looked sheepishly left and right at my fellow drivers sharing the front grid at the traffic lights. Yep, they’d heard me through two layers of glass each. Fortunately my “bilby on a treadmill” drive means I can never harm my fellow human beings by scorching away from the traffic lights.

  14. September 13th, 2008 at 07:15 | #14

    Deleted. Nothing more on your idee fixe please, Al. I gave you the chance to have your say some time ago. JQ

  15. Jill Rush
    September 13th, 2008 at 09:31 | #15

    The political class may buy up to make sure that they are well presented in the book. As for the rest of us we may idly thumb through it in the library one day or read published extracts in the newspaper but the Costello expose has no-one I know on tenterhooks. I wouldn’t be so ill bred as to give it to anyone for Christmas – even those who I know vote Liberal.

    Ikonoklast seems to have summed it up – everyone else has moved on except the journalists. No wonder they can’t sell newspapers anymore.

  16. derrida derider
    September 15th, 2008 at 15:27 | #16

    Oh, I’m waiting with bated breath for the next ex-polly’s book – “The War Diaries of Lord Downer of Baghdad”.

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