As the financial crisis has developed over the past year, I’ve been struck by the near-complete absence of any comment on the economy from Peter Costello. He would seem to have all sorts of reasons for commenting, from a desire to defend the previous government’s record, to enhancing his public profile and even, perhaps, contributing to public understanding of the issues and improving policy outcomes.
But, until the last couple of days, there’s been nothing. Now, however, he seems to be talking, and inevitably, this sudden end to reticence is being interpreted in terms of leadership aspirations.
For me, though, the more interesting question is how Costello performs without the Treasury, or even the staff allocated to a shadow minister to back him up. You can make your own judgements on this Lateline interview. My take: Costello performed reasonably well, as you’d expect from a sharp lawyer and Parliamentary debater, and he made some good debating points. But he didn’t give the impression that he had, or was interested in, any deep understanding of the financial crisis or the choices facing the Australian government, and other governments in responding to it.