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Hewson hits the mark

February 22nd, 2009

John Hewson’s public denunciation of Peter Costello “‘Lazy, disloyal, no balls, unelectable’” is one of the more effective examples of the genre I’ve seen*. At least, it is for me, since it’s exactly consistent with my own judgement. Money quote

I also doubt you have the skills, experience or self-confidence to have accepted the obvious job after losing the last election, namely shadow treasurer. You’d be lost without Treasury. You may have delivered 11 budgets but ask yourself honestly how many of them were actually yours, rather than Treasury’s. I am told Treasury is now drawing a sharp contrast between your little interest and involvement and that of Wayne Swan.

And Hewson gets in a very effective jab at Howard along the way

Both sides of politics know from painful experience that disunity is death- although, like you I’m sure, I found it a bit galling to hear Howard now saying so, having been disloyal to every leader he ever worked for.

* It would have been more effective without the gratuitous reference to testosterone, which doesn’t at all suit an academic/finance type like Hewson.

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  1. February 22nd, 2009 at 14:22 | #1

    While I broadly agree with the thrust of Hewson’s comments, I don’t really see why he needed to be quite so vitriolic about it. But this does seem to be in character for him, as does the gratuitous testosterone references.

    Cheap shots are always easier than considered argument (and sometimes more satisfying on a visceral level to both write and read I suppose). His standard response to any argument the Democrats used to make was to make a crack about how you couldn’t buy them, but you could rent by the hour (nudge nudge, leer leer).

    Seems like one person with too high an opinion of their own ability sounding off at another who is about the same. Which doesn’t mean that he’s incorrect on this occasion – I’ve expressed a similar assessment myself, apart from the stuff about backbone and balls, which I don’t think has much to do with whether
    Costello has policy nous – but a bit of self-reflection/awareness from Hewson about his own shortcomings every now and then wouldn’t hurt.

  2. TerjeP
    February 22nd, 2009 at 14:41 | #2

    The visceral level of the argument is probably a bit part of what makes it effective in political terms. And the statement is clearly a political act not a mere intellectual one.

  3. TerjeP
    February 22nd, 2009 at 14:41 | #3

    “bit part” should have been “big part”.

  4. Tony G
    February 22nd, 2009 at 14:42 | #4

    He is an economist, nobody in the real world takes any notice of him (especially the electorate). Maybe other economists might take notice of him, but that is to be expected as they do not have anything better to do..

  5. TerjeP
    February 22nd, 2009 at 14:45 | #5

    Tony – the media noticed. And it gives Turnbull some space to recover. Well timed I would say.

  6. swio
    February 22nd, 2009 at 15:54 | #6

    I’m glad somebody finally said it.

  7. February 22nd, 2009 at 16:05 | #7

    OTOH Latham’s comments on Rudd also hit the mark. I would be really fascinated to see what Rudd really believes – if anything. Sort of like Costello, but Costello had to try to beat a successful (i.e. one that actually won elections) leader.

  8. February 22nd, 2009 at 16:09 | #8

    Vitriolic or not, at least Hewson had the balls to say what everyone else is thinking (except those deluded souls who still think The Great Contender is the Lib’s best bet). His colourful delivery hits the mark.

  9. Monkey’s Uncle
    February 22nd, 2009 at 16:53 | #9

    Hewson may be correct this time, but he clearly has so much rancour and personal bitterness that this undercuts his message somewhat. He has become the Liberal Party’s answer to Mark Latham.

    That said, I think it’s true that Costello is something of a shallow opportunist who lacks the inner strength needed to be a successful Prime Minister.

    Although Hewson’s persistent jibe that Costello never had the balls to challenge Howard is a fairly silly put-down. Costello was never anywhere near striking distance of Howard in terms of party room support. So what would have been the point of bringing on an unwinnable challenge and destabilising the government?

    Apparently he needed to challenge to prove his masculinity. Good one Professor!

  10. February 22nd, 2009 at 17:22 | #10

    Monkey’s Uncle misses one of Hewson’s main points – namely that as Deputy Liberal Leader when Downer was Leader, Costello was in the position to challenge for the leadership when Downer stepped down, but meekly gave way to Howard. Remember that only a few short months earlier when Downer replaced Hewson, Howard apparently did not have the Party room numbers to challenge for either the leadership or deputy leadership.

  11. Spiros
    February 22nd, 2009 at 17:58 | #11

    Everything said about Costello is old news. So why did he say it? Because he hates for Costello for his part in the dethroning him as leader. back in ’94.

    At least Hewson had the grace to not say “and he couldn’t even get a job in the financial markets, which shows you what they think of him”.

    Though he must have been sorely tempted.

  12. nanks
    February 22nd, 2009 at 18:32 | #12

    I find it strange that people think there is something wrong with Costello (and presumably anyone) who doesn’t want to be Prime Minister.

  13. February 22nd, 2009 at 18:52 | #13

    I’m with nanks. The guy is so unelectable as PM that he could probably do a good job at it.

  14. El Poppin
    February 22nd, 2009 at 19:35 | #14

    What strikes me is that after all these years, Costello never managed to increase support within his party. the notion that he would take over after Howard always seemed as an after thought or unless we can find someone else. Even if he did not work the back benches they never seemd to have come around to the point of view that he was capable.

  15. February 22nd, 2009 at 19:46 | #15

    These narky comments by Hewson won’t convince many. Does he really have such a high relative regard for Wayne Swan? It sounds false.

    How many budgets in Australian political history would not have a substantial input from Treasury?

    Costello worked very hard on issues such as the GST and worked very hard on budget preparation.

    Peter Costello has wimped it a couple of times. But he does not deserve this.

  16. Alanna
    February 22nd, 2009 at 20:44 | #16

    Even I felt a bit sorry for Costello after Hewsons attack (and I did think waht axe does Hewson have to grind?) until I remeber Costellos jeering cheschire cat style against good inititaives (but then that has become the norm in the liberal party).
    I dont mind if he is lazy, says nothing and relaxes on the back bench.

  17. Alanna
    February 22nd, 2009 at 20:48 | #17

    However, Costello might actually have been a better prime minister than JH (I think he would have ). It wouldnt have been that hard.. but as Keating said JH had araldite on his pants.

  18. charles
    February 22nd, 2009 at 20:55 | #18

    I doubt Hewson’s comments were aimed at economists or voters. The battle within the Liberal party is on, if the right wingers win ( and I think they will) the Liberal party will be in the wilderness for a long long time.

  19. Lord Sir Alexander “Dolly” Downer
    February 22nd, 2009 at 22:48 | #19

    Dr Hewson never forgave Costello for knifing him in favour of my namesake. The use of ‘balls’ gets him the headline, but it is childish. Which as others have said doesn’t mean what he is saying is not true.

    In addition to these criticisms, Costello, unlike Keating when he was longing for the PMship, has never shown an interest in anything except his portfolio. One of the major issues of the day is Islamic terrorism, yet the only statements he’s made on the issue have been ignorant.

    I guess the shiny bums would help him with that too.

  20. ozlotto
    February 22nd, 2009 at 22:53 | #20

    Has Australia ever had a PM by default of being the only one left standing? Was Billy McMahon a tragic figure in the Costello mold?

    If Costello is such a man as to be PM what is his advice to us now on the best way out of the FGFC (the added f is not for fun)
    Otis (aka -Mugabe)

  21. February 22nd, 2009 at 23:11 | #21

    My comment appears to be stuck in moderation limbo. Too many links? They are all to Pr Q’s blog so surely cant be considered spam!

  22. Stephen L
    February 22nd, 2009 at 23:13 | #22

    I agree with the commentators above that Hewson is broadly right but didn’t need to go on about testosterone.

    However, I think he is wrong when he says Costello will never be party leader. If Turnbull can’t get things back on track the party will dump him and the only other options seem to be Costello or Hockey. If Hockey can’t cut it as shadow treasurer (and so fr the signs aren’t good) Costello will get it no matter how much people hate him.

  23. Degean
    February 23rd, 2009 at 04:00 | #23

    April 5 2009 Global Boycott McDonald’s Day SPREAD THE WORD

  24. jquiggin
    February 23rd, 2009 at 05:43 | #24

    It didn’t even get to moderation, Jack – the spam filter appears to have killed it. Maybe you included the unspeakable word (soCI@LISm), or mentioned c@sinos. But too many links can also kill.

  25. rog
    February 23rd, 2009 at 07:47 | #25

    Bat or balls or whatever lets not forget that Hewson lost the unloseable election all over a cake.

  26. Spiros
    February 23rd, 2009 at 07:57 | #26

    “Costello, unlike Keating … has never shown an interest in anything except his portfolio”

    Costello did once venture into energy policy, opining that it would be great if electricity could be sold across state borders.

    Trouble was, the national electricity market had already been in operation for 10 years when he said it.

    Costello is a lazy git who thinks that all there is it to politics is acting the school yard bully in Parliament. Howard, who was nothing if not shrewd, saw right through him.

    Hewson is embittered by his failed political ambition, blaming others for what he did not achieve. It’ll eat away at him until he dies.

  27. February 23rd, 2009 at 08:21 | #27

    Pr Q says:

    John Hewson’s public denunciation of Peter Costello “‘Lazy, disloyal, no balls, unelectable’” is one of the more effective examples of the genre I’ve seen*. At least, it is for me, since it’s exactly consistent with my own judgement.

    I would not be taking any re-assurance from John Hewson as a political analyst. Hewson is a sore loser. His own politcal career shows what happens when liberal academics attempt to wield the levers of power. They are way out of their depth as they fail to realise that politics is integral to policy. A born Machiavellian like Keating had no trouble playing him like a fiddle.

    Costello is a more formidable character, even allowing for the smirk. Pr Q has been writing Costello off for the better part of this decade. (Although he did get Costello’s waiting strategy right in this post.) His penultimate post on Costello sounded this doleful note:

    it seems that his political career is over.

    Not so fast Batman!

    YOu would think by now that Pr Q would get tired of calling the Costello bubble burst. And yet still Costello floats skywards.

    One might intepret Pr Q’s uncharitable view, together with his awkward silence on Costello’s now better-looking legacy as an economic administrator, as evidence of political bias or even personal animus. But economic professors are above that sort of thing, no?

    In any case its time to put aside speculative pontifications and deal with testable predictions. I have already made my calls on the leadership and I am ready to stand by them*.

    In 2006 I correctly predicted that “Howard would see off the immediate challenge from Costello” and remain LN/P leader for the 2007 election. But I have always suspected that Costello is prepared to bide his time. UNlike Turnbull who is always in a big hurry to prove his claim to be the biggest swinging member.

    There is plenty of hopeful precedent for Costello to sit out the leadership squabbles on the back bench. It worked for two recent predecessors in the Lodge. Keating did it in 1991. Howard did it on and off for almost a decade 1987-1995.

    Last week I predicted that Costello will not contest the LN/P leadership until beyond 2010. Immediately after I posted that comment Costello announced his intention to stay on.

    I will refine that prediction. I predict that, after the LN/P loses against Rudd in 2010, Costello will contend the LN/P leadership in early 2011. He will contest the 2013 election. If he does well enough in that he will stay on as leader, possibly to contest the 2016 election.

    Its not that I think Costello is the bees knees. Its just that he seems to be adopting the Stephen Bradbury strategy of letting the other dills fall over themselves and then claiming the spoils of victory.

    So I continue to be bullish, or at least non-bearish, about Costello’s political prospects and AUS’s economic prospects. Perhaps its time for a revision of the common denominator in these two series?

    *I predicted that Howard would win his seat based on a sympathetic small business Asian vote. I was wrong. I should not have set aside my own “race realist” philosophy, which implies that clan always trumps class or party. The ALP played the race card, which was enough to send Howard packing.

  28. Spiros
    February 23rd, 2009 at 08:28 | #28

    The Bradbury strategy won’t work for Costello. It assumes that there won’t be any other credible candidates for the leadership. But leaders can spring up quite quickly. One minute you’ve never heard of them, the next minute they are in the corner office.

    The Liberals are going to be in opposition for a long time, the way they are travelling now. Don’t forget that Rudd wasn’t even in the parliament when Labor lost in ’96.

    Costello is yesterday’s man.

  29. wizofaus
    February 23rd, 2009 at 08:58 | #29

    Heh, what little respect I had left for Costello has now completely gone out the window:
    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/story/0,25197,25091501-7583,00.html

  30. February 23rd, 2009 at 09:00 | #30

    Spiros Says: February 23rd, 2009 at 8:28 am

    The Bradbury strategy won’t work for Costello. It assumes that there won’t be any other credible candidates for the leadership. But leaders can spring up quite quickly. One minute you’ve never heard of them, the next minute they are in the corner office…Don’t forget that Rudd wasn’t even in the parliament when Labor lost in ‘96.

    It took nearly a decade for politician Rudd to muster sufficient support to be a credible contender for ALP leadership. Costello is already there, has been for a decade.

    He will strike within three years. No LN/P pollie, not even some political genius below the horizon, can muster that kind of public brand recognition, not to mention private political capital, in that time horizon.

    spiros says:

    The Liberals are going to be in opposition for a long time, the way they are travelling now.

    Agreed. I have predicted that the LN/P will be in Opposition for a minimum of one, and probably two, electoral cycle(s). In short its probable that the ALP will remain in office until 2016. Although I would not bet on that right now!

    But there is virtually no rusted on or True Believer support for the ALP/Old Left now adays. That went with the old militant union movement and the Communist Party.

    The ALP’s secular improvement in partisan alignment appears to be based on Baby Boomer animus to the LN/P. This generation still has a life expectancy of 20 years. (typically 1955-2030)

    That being the case its unlikely that Costello will ever be PM. His only hope is to stay in the game for another electoral cycle and hope that the Bradbury effect continues to work in his favour.

    Secular trends can be interrupted by amplified cycles and freak events. Thats why it pays to stay in the game.

    Assuming AUS does not get hit too hard by the GFC his economic administration will be start to look better as time goes on. This will undoubtedly help his chances.

    Although once again the new found shine on his economic halo is another example of the Bradbury effect. AUS’s relatively good performance is more a consequence of the RoW’s atrocious errors rather than any special Costello wisdom.

  31. Alanna
    February 23rd, 2009 at 09:21 | #31

    Before the libs look better, they may just look a lot worse if todays article page 1,4 of SMH is any guide – that the party received donations by businessmen suspected of having close ties to calabrian mafia drug dealers.

    EEEEEWWWWW. YUK.

  32. Ikonoclast
    February 23rd, 2009 at 09:35 | #32

    I’m intrigued. Why are (soCI@LISm) and c@sinos unspeakable words? Why is the spam filter programmed in such a simplisitic way?

    Bloggers of the world unite and demand more intelligent spam filtering!!!

    As for Costello. He is dill and a mendacious dill at that. He did lack the courage* or numbers or both to challenge Howard. *Note: I did not use the word for little spheres or little ovoid strutures. In geometry, an ovoid is any solid body resembling a bird’s egg. But I’ll say it. Costello did lack the ovoids metaphorically speaking.

  33. Alanna
    February 23rd, 2009 at 09:58 | #33

    Im intrigued too about SOCIALISM. Im just doing an experiment to see if I get spam filtered…

  34. Alanna
    February 23rd, 2009 at 09:58 | #34

    hmmm maybe its the @

  35. Ronaldo
    February 23rd, 2009 at 10:09 | #35

    Lazy?

    Well yes. In Opposition he did very little policy work.
    As Treasurer when he could not call on his Department like in elections he was embarrassing.

    in 2001 he didn’t understand bond yields, in 2004 he didn’t understand elementary budgetary costings and in 2007 he didn’t even understand his own assumptions involving his tax cuts.

    Disloyal, see Glen Milne he showed Howard like loyalty.

    No balls? how many leadership ballots did he contest?

    Unelectable?

    He is now BUT IF he hangs around churchilllike you never know BUT he would need to be in the period where the press gives the Oppo leader plenty of latitude as we saw both with Howard and Rudd because he is not good without a good department.

    He needs a good brief

  36. Macondo
    February 23rd, 2009 at 10:26 | #36

    Hardly any comment about one of the substantive criticisms: The Smirk’s lack of economic nous, not just political balls. He sat on his fundamental region for 10 years watching the mineral boom spondoolies roll in, and did little but marshall that revenue for the political distribution of tax cuts. Oh, and continue privatising stuff to pay off the govt’s debt. By the way, whatever happened to his Debt Truck during those LNP years?

    There’s bugger all to show for those long years, except the GST. Did the GST really make a profound difference; was it crucial? I hazard a guess that Costello couldn’t have cared less about it, or anything else. He only ever talked in cliches and seemed languid about most things, even those he was supposed to be socially ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’ about. I heard years ago that even in his own party he had a reputation for laziness; Hewson is merely confirming that, and suggesting he wouldn’t want to take the treasury portfolio in these times, and couldn’t cut the mustard anyway.

  37. Ikonoclast
    February 23rd, 2009 at 10:49 | #37

    Macondo has nailed it. Spot on!

  38. Spiros
    February 23rd, 2009 at 11:04 | #38

    “even those he was supposed to be socially ‘liberal’ or ‘progressive’ about”

    This was entirely a con designed for his political advancement. Because Costello walked over the Harbour Bridge for reconciliation, gullible people thought he was the anti-Howard on social issues.

    Nothing could be further from the truth. The only difference between Howard and Costello is that with Howard what you saw is what you got.

  39. ken
    February 23rd, 2009 at 11:47 | #39

    Re the unspeakable word ‘SOC@ALISM’. Try looking in the middle of the word and you will find another word starting with ‘c’ that will be familiar to anyone who receives emails selling products to put more life in your bits.

  40. Alanna
    February 23rd, 2009 at 11:57 | #40

    Like C@agra?

  41. Alanna
    February 23rd, 2009 at 12:00 | #41

    Still cant work it out…

  42. Tim Macknay (aka Tim M)
    February 23rd, 2009 at 12:04 | #42

    Except, of course Spiros, he never actually walked across the Bridge for reconciliation. That was part of the con. :)

  43. February 23rd, 2009 at 13:54 | #43

    Alanna Says: February 23rd, 2009 at 9:21 am

    Before the libs look better, they may just look a lot worse if todays article page 1,4 of SMH is any guide – that the party received donations by businessmen suspected of having close ties to calabrian mafia drug dealers.

    EEEEEWWWWW. YUK.

    As opposed to certain branches of the NSW ALP which appeared, at one stage, to be a wholly owned subsidiary of the Calabrian mafia, run out of Al Grassby’s office.

    And to think I was once a so-called “rusted on” Labor voter.

    Really, the bias, contempt and hatred of the LN/P on this and other Ozblog sites runs way past anything that could be described as the routine argy-bargy from interest group politics or ideologue polemics. This is wrong in itself and sets up commenters to be sucker-punched by ALP machine operators, ala 2020 CON-ferences.

    Rudd et al are not latter-day saints leading us onto the New Jerusalem. And Howard-Costello-Downer (and their immediate legatees) were not the epitome of evil dragging us through the Slough of Despair.

    They were a govt of the moderate Centre-Right who, by a combination of good luck and good management, left the country and state in better shape than they found it. And are now heading for a longish spell in Opposition as the electoral pendulum begins its processional phase in a new cycle.

  44. jquiggin
    February 23rd, 2009 at 13:55 | #44

    Alanna, the answer (see if it gets thru in uppercase) is CIALIS

  45. jquiggin
    February 23rd, 2009 at 14:01 | #45

    Jack, I gave Costello (and, more relevantly, Howard, who was always the real force) all the credit they deserved in my chapter in the Howard Years.

    As regards their legacy, maybe you should read Ross Gittins in the SMH today. Their consistent policy of pre-committing the projected budget surplus on the eve of every election worked fine as long as the projections fell consistently short. But now that they have gone way over, the incoming government has inherited a huge structural deficit. More on this soon.

  46. February 23rd, 2009 at 14:03 | #46

    Spiros Says: February 23rd, 2009 at 11:04 am

    This was entirely a con designed for his political advancement. Because Costello walked over the Harbour Bridge for reconciliation, gullible people thought he was the anti-Howard on social issues.

    Correct. And such people tend to be as wrong-headed on “social issues” as they are on Costello’s true principles. Perhaps “gullibility” is the common denominator?

    Nowadays the reputation for being “socially liberal and progressive” will not achieve “political advancement” out there in “working familiy” land. Not to mention being a distinct liability in the more red-blooded, white-bread and true-blue quarters of the L/NP.

    Thank God.

  47. February 23rd, 2009 at 14:13 | #47

    # 28 Spiros Says: February 23rd, 2009 at 8:28 am

    Costello is yesterday’s man.

    Whom, oh whom, used to be subject to that low estimation for what seemed about 900 years after 1987? Oh yes, I remember

    And how did that work out for the estimators?

  48. jquiggin
    February 23rd, 2009 at 14:22 | #48

    Jack, if you want to be taken seriously, you should refrain from dishonest quotation such as “His penultimate post on Costello sounded this doleful note – “it seems that his political career is over” omitting the immediately preceding observation “while you should never say never”.

    BTW, I don’t see any need to revise my qualified judgement here.

  49. Alanna
    February 23rd, 2009 at 14:32 | #49

    Ok – not up to date on rising pharma brands..
    CIALIS

  50. Alanna
    February 23rd, 2009 at 14:35 | #50

    Ok testing done. Patient hasnt responded to treatment.

  51. February 23rd, 2009 at 14:40 | #51

    # 45 jquiggin Says: February 23rd, 2009 at 2:01 pm

    As regards their legacy, maybe you should read Ross Gittins in the SMH today. Their consistent policy of pre-committing the projected budget surplus on the eve of every election worked fine as long as the projections fell consistently short. But now that they have gone way over, the incoming government has inherited a huge structural deficit. More on this soon.

    Its a bit eye-popping to see Left-wing Greenie complaining about a government that socked away alot of dough by slugging mining companies with hefty company taxes.

    No doubt the Howard-Costello (I usually bracket them in this order of pre-eminence on economic policy) income tax cuts have created a bit of a structural deficit. I am not a low-tax regime changer but I think Centre-Right govts are entitled to hand out a few goodies to their supporters.

    Also privatisation was a false economy which lost more in foregone dividends on owned assets than it saved in avoided interest on amortised debt.

    At least they paid off about $50 billion in CW debt. Some props from deficit hawks on this?

    But the GST has broadened the tax base and plugges alot of leaking holes in the tax system. This has improved the efficacy of the CW’s income gathering capacity. Some props from deficit hawks on this?

    More generally, the value of typical AUS mortgages and therefore the integrity of the AUS financial system has been greatly improved by Howard-Costello’s policy of promoting better quality:

    – loan providers through tighter nets of prudential regulation and

    – loan servicers through higher rates of skilled immigration

    These are the key differences in the AUS financial system and the reason we have so far dodged the worst of the GFC bullet. (Which we may still wear, making a mockery of my recent predictions.)

    So far totally uncredited by the punditariat. Perhaps this error will be rectified when the promised “more on this soon” comes?

  52. Alanna
    February 23rd, 2009 at 14:40 | #52

    Jack#43 – I know that. The whole donations thing to parties absolutely reeks…

  53. Alanna
    February 23rd, 2009 at 14:45 | #53

    The whole donations thing reeks in the major parties. Its a filthy way to get campaign money… and attracts all sorts of flies into politics.

  54. February 23rd, 2009 at 15:08 | #54

    # 48 jquiggin Says: February 23rd, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Jack, if you want to be taken seriously, you should refrain from dishonest quotation such as “His penultimate post on Costello sounded this doleful note – “it seems that his political career is over” omitting the immediately preceding observation “while you should never say never”.

    My point was that Pr Q has a long record of putting Costello down, generally with a view to writing him off the political stage. He is entitled to that view, maybe there is something to it. But, for the time being, it has not gone through the formality of actually happening. (A bit like the GFC in AUS.)

    I try to get “taken seriously” by making correct predictions. Or, if they are refuted, admitting falsification.

    I thought that I had satisfied my obligation to fairness by conscientious linking and crediting Pr Q with getting “Costello’s waiting strategy right in this post.” Some people are very hard to please!

    Its a bit harsh to denounce my omission of “never say never” as a form of “dishonest quotation”. One can append this banal qualifier to every prediction or conclusion, to prolonged yawns from all around. My omission, if it had any intent, was a tribute to Pr Q’s long and worthy record of avoiding immunizing strategies designed to create wriggle room for the survival of any pet theories that he might cherish.

    Are we to understand that all Pr Q’s scientfic predictions are now issued subject to an all-encompassing unwritten escape clause?

  55. Alanna
    February 24th, 2009 at 08:20 | #55

    Jack #43 says “Really, the bias, contempt and hatred of the LN/P on this and other Ozblog sites runs way past anything that could be described as the routine argy-bargy from interest group politics or ideologue polemics. This is wrong in itself and sets up commenters to be sucker-punched by ALP machine operators, ala 2020 CON-ferences.

    Rudd et al are not latter-day saints leading us onto the New Jerusalem. And Howard-Costello-Downer (and their immediate legatees) were not the epitome of evil dragging us through the Slough of Despair.”

    jack, we know that – I wasnt being “biased” in my comment that you quoted at 46.

    I simply thought “what next, developers in bed with labor and now calabrian mafia links to the libs”

    The whole donations side of politics is part of a huge and nasty problem that compromises the integrity of our governments. Blind Freddy can see that. Its not bias because it happens so often in both major parties and its ugly. Electoral funding needs rethinking.

  56. Alanna
    February 24th, 2009 at 21:49 | #56

    And Jack, Rudd is OK but as for the State – another story entirely…
    Actually Howard was pretty close to the epitome to me..narrow minded ideological loyalist that wrecked a few systems and thought only he knew better what the public wanted. Workchoices of course!

  57. Alanna
    February 24th, 2009 at 21:53 | #57

    Oh and what Howard thought we all needed was

    5 drops of essence of terror
    6 drops of sinister sauce
    when the stirring was done
    he licked the spoon

    aha of course, of course!

  58. March 20th, 2009 at 15:20 | #58

    Pr Q says:

    John Hewson’s public denunciation of Peter Costello “‘Lazy, disloyal, no balls, unelectable’” is one of the more effective examples of the genre I’ve seen*. At least, it is for me, since it’s exactly consistent with my own judgement.

    One can forgive Pr Q for siding with Pr Hewson in a political spat. After all they are both economics professors. Perhaps there is solidarity in this profession after all.

    But its unfortunate that Pr Q chose Pr H of all people to side with on the Costello issue. Pr H has a long and bitter rivalry with PC. One that has obviously not been a happy one going by the snarl/smirk ratio.

    Its never a good idea to get involved in a party domestic. Especially when one side has such a chequered record. Paul Sheehan reviews Pr H’s contribution to AUS public life and comes up with a Big Fat Zero:

    The lineage of this latest outbreak of political bile goes back almost 20 years, when Hewson was seeking the Liberal leadership and Costello was blocking him. In 1993 Hewson once called Costello into his office and said, among other things, “You are nothing.”

    Costello tells us this in The Costello Memoirs. Two pages later he writes: “I once asked Ian McLachlan: ‘Do you think we have an obligation to tell the Australian people our leader is a maniac?’ He said: ‘No, the Australian people will figure it out for themselves’.”

    Hewson lost the “unlosable” election that year.

    After leaving for the corporate world, he created a resume littered with disputation. Last week there was more bad news about the collapse of Elderslie Finance Corporation, where Hewson was chairman before matters slid out of control, leaving 4000 investors behind.

    Before that, Hewson departed from the board of Pulse Health Group in a shake-up.

    Before that, he quit as chairman of Natural Fuel amid a boardroom battle.

    Before that, he lost a bitter boardroom struggle for control of Sports & Entertainment Limited.

    Before that, he departed Belle Property amid a dispute.

    Before that, he resigned as chairman of Network Entertainment prior to the company’s collapse.

    Before that, as dean of the Macquarie Graduate School of Management, he had a spectacular falling out with the university.

    Before that, he helped lead a Macquarie venture in Singapore, which collapsed. Before that, CBD Online, where Hewson had been chairman, failed.

    When it comes to authority in the worlds of business and politics, Hewson is a dead man talking. Only one field would treat this resume as a qualification for authority – the media – and so it was that Hewson provided the most lurid example, thus far, of the self-generated, self-feeding media speculation around Costello for the past month.

    Pr H is very much a part of the North Sydney financial fast lane set. SHould we be taking more advice from such quarters. Costello, by comparison, has risen effortlessly to second from the top in a very dignified and Melbournian way.

    As I mentioned above, Pr H is a “loser” (relative to his own aspirations) and a very sore one at that. He pegged his colors to “economic rationalist” financial liberalism and “politically correct” cultural liberalism. How’s that working out now?

    The less attention we pay to this still, small voice from the past the better.

  59. jquiggin
    March 20th, 2009 at 15:40 | #59

    All of this is ad hominem in the sense of the term that actually matters. I didn’t cite Hewson as an authority, or an unbiased source. I quoted him as giving an effective presentation of a view I share.

    The point (surely correct) that his attack on Costello is the product of sour grapes or worse doesn’t in any way reduce its accuracy, and doesn’t much reduce its effectiveness.

  60. March 20th, 2009 at 16:41 | #60

    The point (surely correct) that his attack on Costello is the product of sour grapes or worse doesn’t in any way reduce its accuracy, and doesn’t much reduce its effectiveness.

    Hewson is both laden with “sour-grapes” and lacking in “accuracy”. One generally finds the two serially correlated. He describes Costello as:

    “‘Lazy, disloyal, no balls, unelectable’”

    I dont see these criticisms as being axiomatic. The evidence points the other way.

    As regards “disloyal”, Costello was a loyal deputy who put party unity ahead of personal ambition. This accusation coming from a man who dumped on every person, party or firm that he has been in association with for a generation. Pot meet not-kettle.

    As regards “lazy”, the AUS economy has steadfastly refused to do the GFC tank so far. Must be some underlying strength there. SO our 11 yr Treasurer is entitled to claim some credit for his industries. So far.

    As regards “unelectable”, Costello remains the most popular Liberal party politician in the country. An honour that no one could ever bestow on John Hewson.

    At best Costello’s critics are calling it over before the fat lady has sung.

    I have made my Costello economic and political predictions. I expect the AUS economy to have a moderate, shallow recession. I have predicted Costello will make a leadership move after 2010 election. Lets wait 12-24 months for a conclusive test on both counts.

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