EDITORIAL WEDNESDAY 10.09.08.
Will Peter Costello please just shut up and go away? Honestly, I just don’t know why so many of his colleagues would be prepared to hand him the Liberal Party leadership after all of the ducking and weaving of the last few months. Yes there was a time when Peter Costello could have led the coalition to an election victory. That time has passed.
It has been widely observed that he is stringing matters out as long as possible as a ploy to promote interest in his new book which is due to be launched next week. Already some of the contents of the memoir have been reported, including criticisms of several key failings of the Howard Government such as reconciliation, a republic and Pauline Hanson. Attention is also devoted to the leadership saga which apparently saw Mr. Costello repeatedly promised the top job, but never delivered to him.
As well as allegedly criticizing Mr. Howard in his book, Peter Costello has also taken the opportunity this week to publicly lambaste the new Rudd Government over the economic slowdown. In doing so he has grossly oversimplified matters, ignored the global credit crunch, and pretended that he was not in charge of the economy while interest rates went up repeatedly along with inflation. Now the genie is out of the bottle and all he can say is “It’s not my fault”.
Increasingly, Liberal Party members are frustrated with the unresolved leadership question. Many would still welcome Mr. Costello as leader, believing that he has the best chance of success. But I disagree. After the election loss last November, the leadership was his for the taking. However, like a petulant boy, he announced he would be retiring form politics. Since then he has hovered around casting a shadow across the Liberal Party which is doing more harm than good. Perhaps it’s his own form of revenge for not getting his own way before.
So far, this whole travesty has been centred around the best interests of Peter Costello, not the best interests of the Party. Until Peter Costello makes his intentions clear, the Liberal Party is caught in Limbo, torn between the past and the future. It seems that the Party has been prepared to wait until the book is published, but time is almost up. After all this it has to be asked why would they want him now anyway?