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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 23rd, 2009 at 14:40 | #1

    # 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?

  2. Alanna
    February 23rd, 2009 at 14:40 | #2

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

  3. Alanna
    February 23rd, 2009 at 14:45 | #3

    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.

  4. February 23rd, 2009 at 15:08 | #4

    # 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?

  5. Alanna
    February 24th, 2009 at 08:20 | #5

    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.

  6. Alanna
    February 24th, 2009 at 21:49 | #6

    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!

  7. Alanna
    February 24th, 2009 at 21:53 | #7

    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!

  8. March 20th, 2009 at 15:20 | #8

    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.

  9. jquiggin
    March 20th, 2009 at 15:40 | #9

    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.

  10. March 20th, 2009 at 16:41 | #10

    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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