MOST OF US   have noticed Peter Costello has got no lips. And everyone has noticed — since the political demise of the little man he never had the courage to stand up to — that, uncharacteristically, he has been keeping his motor mouth shut.

It is always amusing to watch a naturally blustering wimp trying to be strong, silent and mysterious. If the floodgates have not opened before you read this, it is certain the moment is fast approaching when he will at least be smirking his thoughts (in momentary control of his preference to slanging off at adversaries) about how he plans to lead his Liberal mates out of the wilderness.

If his party should sadly choose to retreat to the past and make him their leader — or at least give him an “important” shadow portfolio — this man of straw will once again be swaggering around gleefully lashing the other side of the house about what he sees as the incompetence of the party not born to rule and how it has destroyed all the wonderful work he did in his years as the world’s best treasurer.

There’ll be nothing said about how — in a period of almost financially untroubled years — he had not much more to do than help his Treasury mentors count soaring tax revenues. (The Asian “crises” were about the worst it got; and they proved not much more than momentary mirages. Western economic leaders at the time insinuated the crises were simply the consequence of naivety on the part of emerging developing-world economies — and, of course, it could never happen to their own “recession-proof” highly sophisticated financial systems.)

Costello’s Treasury years might be compared with those of William (Billy)  McMahon, a man showered with accolades for his brilliance as Treasurer through the 1960s, a time when Australia sailed serenely after a brief early-decade recession. And millions of Australians will remember what an embarrassment Billy Big Ears turned out to be as PM.

For the Liberals’ sake Australia-wide (not that they have a party in Queensland any more), it is to be hoped its parliamentary members will resist the temptation, in yet another moment of despair, to invite to lead them the man who deserted the Liberal Party in its moment of dire need.

That was the night John Howard made a disgracefully dignified departure speech after a decade of misrule, ill-judged military adventurism and psychological torture of thousands of innocent men, women and children who had had the temerity to masquerade as “refugees” when, in fact, as the Coalition government assured us over too many years, they were nothing more than dangerous “illegals” fit only to peer at Australia from behind razor-wire fencing.

Peter Costello, of course, played no part in any of that inhumanity to man. Surely more than I, and a handful of others, noticed his reluctance to be drawn into the Coalition fear-and-loathing talk about simple folk who risked their lives in leaky boats on stormy waters to seek a haven along our shores.

On the other hand, there was never a hint that Costello ever had the temerity to suggest to his “man-of-steel” master that decent Australians simply didn’t do those kinds of things to fellow humans. We might have expected something better from a practising Christian with a reverend brother who has some kind of a reputation as a champion of the poor and oppressed.

Sadly, there was no perceivable spirited opposition from either of the Costello brothers to the inhuman border-security policies of Howard and Amnesty International badge-wearer Philip Ruddock towards people who had mistakenly thought that Australia was home to a humanitarian society.

The Liberals, of course, could seriously set their sights on the future and become a constructive opposition, even sometimes, a-la-Kevin Rudd, acknowledging that at least something Labor is doing is worthy of their support. (Do you remember how the Libs jeered “Copy-cat” when, time and again, Kevin 07 gave conditional support to poll-driven policies flowing from a government desperate for votes?)

The Liberals could, with a bit of genuine introspection, discover that — whether with Costello, Turnbull, Nelson, Hockey, Bishop or Abbott at the helm — they probably will not be fit to lead our nation until at least the election after next. And they should eliminate once and for all the possibility of a Costello-and-Abbott ticket, or, worse, an Abbott-and-Costello ticket, Howard, internationally, having made us enough of a bad joke. On the other hand, the idea of an Abbot-and-Costello-led Western democracy could be just the drawcard our ailing tourism industry is desperately seeking.)

I can’t find the reference, but I’m sure I once read a column by journalist Shelley Gare that, after making a careful study of all Australian prime ministers since Federation, she had concluded it was impossible for Peter Costello ever to take charge because voters simply will not elect as their leader a person who hasn’t got any lips.

For all of our sakes, let her be right.


 

 

Bob Hawkins

Peter Costello, of course, played no part in any of that inhumanity to man. Surely more than I, and a handful of others, noticed his reluctance to be drawn into the Coalition fear-and-loathing talk about simple folk who risked their lives in leaky boats on stormy waters to seek a haven along our shores. On the other hand, there was never a hint that Costello ever had the temerity to suggest to his “man-of-steel” master that decent Australians simply didn’t do those kinds of things to fellow humans. We might have expected something better from a practising Christian with a reverend brother who has some kind of a reputation as a champion of the poor and oppressed. Sadly, there was no perceivable spirited opposition from either of the Costello brothers to the inhuman border-security policies of Howard and Amnesty International badge-wearer Philip Ruddock towards people who had mistakenly thought that Australia was home to a humanitarian society.