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Costello’s moment ?

June 24th, 2009

With Turnbull seemingly doomed, the great sport of Costello-watching gets one last (or maybe not) run onto the field. Will the Libs turn in desperation to the Eternal Bridesmaid, and persuade him to return to the fray? There is a favorable recent precedent with the WA Libs, who persuaded Colin Barnett to reverse a decision to quit, and went on to gain office under his leadership.I’ve never rated Costello, but then, I didn’t (and don’t) think much of Barnett, either.

The big problem for the Libs, I think, is that the Grech scandal goes a long way deeper than Turnbull. Eric Abetz and Joe Hockey are obviously implicated, for example, and the chain of links seems likely to go to Costello as well Astro Boy movie download . And while, as numerous commenters have pointed out, leaks from public servants to Opposition politicians are not that unusual, each such leak constitutes a criminal offence. It’s the kind of thing that “everybody does” from time to time, but it’s only OK if you don’t get caught. Add forgery to the mix, and you’ve got a disaster.

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  1. June 24th, 2009 at 14:34 | #1

    Bugger the politicians. The fascinating and inexplicable element is the behaviour of public servants. leaking, yes, one can see the point of that, and frequently see the public interest – but forging? What conceivable point would that have? How can anybody think that Rudd is so individually significant? If successful, it would lead to the accession of Julia Gillard; if successful, it would lend a few percent at most to the chance of the coalition getting back next time. Public servants generally know, deep down in the DNA, the time when a leak (or a smear) will make a difference (to a government or to an issue), and they lie low and say nuffin until that day comes along.
    What’s changed? What was he aiming for? Much yet to be learned.

  2. TerjeP (say tay-a)
    June 24th, 2009 at 15:57 | #2

    The only things Turnbull has done wrong in this fiasco seem to be political things. Perhaps he is not good at politics. Should we really care? Do we really need our leaders or potential leaders to be good at politics or is their grasp of policy issues and implications what really matters? Too many people view politics as a form of sport, winners good, losers bad, when it is far too important to be judged in that manner. The choice between Costello and Turnbull should be about who has the better plan for the nation, not who is the most clever.

  3. gerard
    June 24th, 2009 at 16:27 | #3

    just because leaking is criminal doesn’t mean it isn’t often the right thing to do. but why bring up leaking? this isn’t a leak, it’s a forgery, which is totally different.

  4. Al
    June 24th, 2009 at 16:45 | #4

    I don’t think that Peter Costello would be a credible leader any more. He’s backed out of the taking the leadership so many times now and he’s claimed he’s retiring many times. He’s getting out now and in doing so he is avoiding being part of a train wreck.

  5. gianni
    June 24th, 2009 at 17:16 | #5

    Malcolm Turnbull’s (dis)approval ratings aren’t nearly bad as those Troy Buswell at the time he was replaced. However, it’s still, nominally, 17 months until the next federal election, so there is plenty of time for Peter Costello to be the last man standing.

    Has Mr Costello actually offered up the local version of the Lyndon Johnson declaration: “I shall not seek, and I will not accept the nomination of my party for another term as your President.” I came across this quote when he resigned:

    Nevertheless my view is, as it was in November 2007, that it is time for me to pursue other interests and it is in the long term interest of the Liberal Party for others of ability and integrity to step forward and represent it.

    which isn’t the same as “I’m out of here no matter what.” As to whether he’d want the leadership of a demoralised party a few months out from an election, and facing a first term government, which would have to be the case if Malcolm Turnbull is replaced, is open to speculation. At this stage, Kevin Rudd isn’t Alan Carpenter to Peter Costello’s Colin Barnett. Why go out a loser?

  6. smiths
    June 24th, 2009 at 18:27 | #6

    i’d be pretty cautious about using barnett as a guide to anything,
    him and buswell are just chief DPI baboons in a retarded DPI state,
    they did not win an election, it was handed to them by a suicidal state labour party,

    TerjeP (say tay-a) :
    The only things Turnbull has done wrong in this fiasco seem to be political things.

    am i missing something here, turnbull has attacked every little tidbit that has come his way as though it was his kingmaking-knock-out-punch-moment,
    with this he went way over the top when the ball was running his way,
    he’s an amateur, i hope the two clowns turnball and costello duke it out for years to come, they both deserve the ignominy

    lets get some perspective on the so-called scandal as well,
    special favours that lead to nothing and the use of a Ute for the pm – ooohh

    compare that to say … our role in iraq,
    hundreds of thousands dead based on lies from the very beginning
    secret deals with saddam to screw the UN and the iraqi population

  7. Allan
    June 24th, 2009 at 18:30 | #7

    It is only an issue for Turnbull, Hockey or Abetz if they were actually involved in the forgery.
    The AFP and the Auditor General are now in the picture so this has spun out of control of all the politicians.
    Costello knows that the current bun fight is what all opposition leaders go through and should be considered nothing more than on the job training.
    Rudd himself called for the resignation of Howard, Vaile and Downer over the AWB kickbacks based on info from his source in the Coalition forces in Baghdad.
    The Cole Royal Commission cleared all three.
    Abbott has been the big winner this week as the Temporary Leader of Opposition Business with his adroit management of tactics and Speaker Jenkins.
    I would expect a promotion in the next opposition shuffle.
    OT but I think that Premier Barnett will be much emulated by the eastern state Liberal leaders by not running a Lib candidate in a by election for Fremantle.
    The Green’s won that safe Labor seat, one that the Lib’s would never win.
    People like Tanner, Plibersek, Albanese, Danby etc are all vulnerable to a deal between the Green’s and the Lib’s if the Lib’s offer not to run.
    And the Greens will see the chance of House of Reps seats as a deal too sweet to refuse.

  8. June 24th, 2009 at 18:37 | #8

    Pr Q says:

    Will the Libs turn in desperation to the Eternal Bridesmaid, and persuade him to return to the fray?

    I cant see Costello returning to the L/NP front bench anytime soon. He is a man who enjoys success and the current LNP look like losers.

    I assume Costello jumped ship because he thought the crew he was likely to captain was a bunch of no-hopers. That assumption appears to be validated by the L/NPs latest farce.

    The L/NP since the election loss have stumbled from one political disaster to another. Although their policy evolution has not been all that bad, all things considered.

    It just makes you appreciate what a master politician Howard was. Hardly ever putting a political foot wrong. Managing to control political damage practically before it started. Generally keeping a tight rein on the ministry.

    It shows that professional politicians, such as Howard and Hawke, really do make a difference. They keep the team focused on the main job, which is winning elections. Whilst also competently administering their departments so that some progress is made.

    The L/NP have a penchant for political amateurs, such as Gorton, Hewson and Turnbull, who might have had all sorts of talents in their original profession. But these do not necessarily guarantee success in the field of politics.

    My own feeling is that Costello wlll not stand for the leadership of the L/NP until he has a good chance of winning. Which will not occur until the Rudd-ALP ministry is well into its second term and suffering the usual mid-tenure blues.

    So if he is to make a comeback it wont be for another year or two ie 2011 or 2012. I just cant envisage it at this stage.

    But then again, Richard Nixon did make an astounding comeback. So maybe there are second acts in politics.

  9. June 24th, 2009 at 18:49 | #9

    Pr Q says:

    I’ve never rated Costello, but then, I didn’t (and don’t) think much of Barnett, either.

    Has Pr Q ever given good ratings to any successful L/NP politician? It would seem to be involve an unthinkable lapse into non-partisanship. Such an animal would, by definition, be putting road blocks diverting the liberal social-democratic caravan.

    I suppose Fraser had his merits from the Left-liberal point of view. Although he was an inveterate union-basher and tried to sabotage Medibank. In my opinion he was a disaster from start to finish.

    I’m too young to remember Ming. But you have to admit the general populus, including lots of workers and lower-class people, seemed satisfied with him. Which is pretty remarkable considering that AUS was a pretty stuffy place from the fifties through mid-sixties.

  10. SeanG
    June 24th, 2009 at 18:59 | #10

    The problem with the opposition is that there is no one else who can take over as leader. They are now stuck in an unwinnable position with no alternative.

  11. June 24th, 2009 at 19:04 | #11

    Pr Q says:

    The big problem for the Libs, I think, is that the Grech scandal goes a long way deeper than Turnbull. Eric Abetz and Joe Hockey are obviously implicated, for example, and the chain of links seems likely to go to Costello as well.

    I suppose it is a crime for public servants to tattle tales to politicians. Personally my reaction to this sort of thing is a stage yawn. I cant imagine how my reaction would differ from that of the vast majority of my fellow citizens.

    They seem to be slowly opting out of political life and retreating to the more rational and controllable professional and personal worlds. Makeovers through home renovations, night-school, cosmetic surgery.

    About the only aspect of public life that gets the citizens attention is celebrity gossip or the occasional artistic fraud or scandal.

    I note with a pang of nostalgia that preparations are underway to celebrate the 40th anniversary of mans first walk on the moon. Now THAT was something worth for the public to get involved in. Liberal democracy’s finest hour.

    I was only in primary school at the time but I couldnt get enough of science and space technology. I imagined that it heralded a new age of scientific progress and rational social reform.

    But things turned out quite differently. Intellectuals of both stripes turned away from science. Politics became a realm of solipsism, spin and scandals.

    The Moonshot was the high-point, not overture, of modernist liberalism. Social reform frequently degenerated into the uncontrollable farce of post-modern liberalism.

    Its really quite sad.

  12. Captain Underpants
    June 24th, 2009 at 20:49 | #12

    @ChrisB
    Really interesting questions. I think Godwin Grech is someone who we might be seeing a miniseries about in the not too distant future. What we do know about him is that he was a bit of a high-flyer in PM&C well on the way up, but his career faltered when the government changed. His section, involved in economic analysis, was disbanded and he went back to Treasury to look after used car salesmen… I think we can understand why he might have done some silly things (that is of course, if he did do them.)

  13. jquiggin
    June 24th, 2009 at 22:04 | #13

    ‘Has Pr Q ever given good ratings to any successful L/NP politician? ‘

    As I’m sure you recall Jack, I have consistently rated John Howard as the most substantial figure produced by the Liberal party since the party itself was created by Menzies from the ruins of the old United Australia Party, just as I’ve consistently rated Costello as a lightweight most fitted to lead a high school debating team.

    To be boringly clear, my high rating of Howard’s ability went hand in hand with a condemnation of his actions. Obviously, I have never claimed to be non-partisan, but I don’t think that has affected my judgement on things like this.

  14. Chris Warren
    June 24th, 2009 at 22:37 | #14

    OK Costello is crap – so how about bringing in some new talent?

    How about that Martin Hamilton-Smith from Adelaide?

    “Damn – that might not work!”

    OK how about bringing in a women – Jackie Kelly from Lindsay?

    “Damn – that might not work!”

    I give up, there just ain’t Liberal worth the paper they print on.

  15. Ubiquity
    June 25th, 2009 at 00:41 | #15

    Chris @14 you would only be happy with someone whose surname ended with Marx (not Groucho).

    However a eternal quote by Groucho Marx reminds me of Costello:

    “No man goes before his time – unless the boss leaves early”

  16. Alanna
    June 25th, 2009 at 08:45 | #16

    Somewhere in recent days in the media I heard a suggestion of the name Robb. He is young, good looking in that dark suited conservative style (a bit too much fabulon on the shirt) with a full head of dark hair at least as I recall seeing him at the local “meet your members”….the new peacock being groomed? Alas he didnt know the meaning of “vertical fiscal imbalance” – in fact none of the new members did. One suggested it was when one state got paid more of the GST revenue than another – at least he had a shot at it! Should we make some form of econ a pre-requisite for political careers? However, they generally agreed with one thing – that Howard should have been moving more downwards to tiers 2 and 3. If I recall Robb was all for fixing and widening a local clogged main road. Im waiting but I think the sea level will rise first.

  17. Chris Warren
    June 25th, 2009 at 10:36 | #17

    Ubiquity

    Are you suggesting that a Karl Marx can save the Liberals. Marx was an economic rationalist sans capitalism.

    I just want to see the backs of Malcolm and sloppy Joe Hockey.

    Kerry O’Brian’s inteview of Malcolm on Wed Lateline was very pointed.

    “Why did Grech say car dealers representations were entirely normal on June 4, to then spin a new line based on a false email on June 19?”

    Excellent probing. “Had Liberals talked to Grech between the two dates????”

    Malcolm fillerblustered his way through the inteview.

  18. Chris Warren
    June 25th, 2009 at 17:02 | #18

    Interview on Wed Lateline?

    I think not – try Wed 7.30 Report.

    No matter.

  19. Alice
    June 27th, 2009 at 16:45 | #19

    Chris – of course they had spoken to him. Grech is a dry known to a few in the liberal party it would seem (including John Howard and Joe Hockey and Abetz). Even if he didnt concoct the email (and Im beginning to think he didnt) he received it at home and then was co-erced into going along with it is a hypothetical situation. My first question is why was it sent to his home email (diverted for what reason?) and why didnt he record a printed copy in Treasury? He is a seasoned public servant – any email from the PMs office would have been printed and filed (in Treasury). Yet strangely Grech didnt do this? My guess is he knew it was forged, or he came to know, but his sympathies led to his co-operation with the coalition even if he didnt personally construct it. He had grounds for dicontent – he previously worked in the PMs office under Howard. His position at Treasury in his eyes perhaps was a lesser role because the government of his disposition was no longer in power. Regardless, the coalition will make Grech the fall guy – thats why he is in hospital (away from prying media eyes and being set up to be “not quite right”).
    The whole think stinks of a set up and I think it was the coalition behind it but they opened the door to their own particular and somewhat more prevalent occurrences of rorting the system (Turbulls grants to the rainmaker etc). somehwat worse than Labors, but these days what do we really expect from either of the major parties ??- its no longer a shockable offence, and highly disillusioning for the ordinary voter, but pretty low media playing politicking on the coalitions part.

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