The Costello Memoirs

The back cover of the book points to one of the themes that run through The Costello Memoirs: “How did it come to this?  How did a Government that had created such an Age of Prosperity, such a proud and prosperous country, now find itself in the wilderness?”   Written nine months after the Coalition lost office, Peter Costello is still scratching his head wondering why.  His first chapter titled What Went Wrong? recalls the evening before the election, when he knew the Government was defeated, to the barbeque at his home the day after polling.  In that chapter he gives substance to the words on the back cover in a paragraph that records his and the Howard Government’s achievements.  It begins “The achievements of recent years have been absolutely outstanding”.  All the facts he states are accurate, albeit incomplete.  The astonishment at being removed from office in the face of such ‘outstanding achievements’ comes through, as it does throughout the book. More...

The China intrigue

Whatever it was that precipitated the linking of Joel Fitzgibbon to Helen Liu, it has created a firestorm of ‘we need to watch China’ sentiment.  In just two of today's newspapers, Fairfax’s Melbourne Age, and Murdoch’s The Australian, there were about a dozen articles, editorials, cartoons, and smaller references to China and the Fitzgibbon affair.  The front page of The Weekend Australian has a photo of Kevin Rudd getting into a car holding a book China’s Rise, given to him by the Peterson Institute for International Economics in Washington where he has just given a speech.  Although the caption explained how he came to have the book in his hand, casual readers would associate Rudd and China yet again.  Christian Kerr cleverly pointed out that "Yesterday our snapper in Washington got this pic of our Prime Minister carrying… China’s Rise,” with the comment "It’s maybe not the best timing to be seen with that title given the Joel Fitzgibbon row...”  Of course you would know Christian. More...

The ‘toxic bore’ stakes

Tony Abbott knows that perception is everything in politics.  So he has embarked on a campaign to label Kevin Rudd a ‘bore’, and just too add a splash of colour, no matter how meaningless, he adds the prefix ‘toxic’.  Would he have ever selected such an adjective had it not been for all the contemporary talk about ‘toxic assets’ on bank balance sheets?  Why toxic?   In my dictionary ‘toxic’ means ‘poisonous’.  Did he really mean to call Rudd poisonous?  We’ll never know as he’ll never explain his thinking.  The ill-chosen word is more a reflection of Abbott’s intense disdain for Rudd than an attempt at an accurate descriptor.   More...

Dear Malcolm

Now that the tumultuous last week of parliamentary sitting is behind you, I suppose it’s a time for reflection.  Time for you to ask: ‘How am I doing?’  Time to check the compass, time to contemplate how to achieve better outcomes – unless of course you’re quite satisfied with your direction and your progress.  Which you may well be.  With a reputed ego as large as yours and with the superabundant self-confidence you’re said to have, you may consider improvement unnecessary, except of course at the edges. More...