Smiles all round as Cozza quits
Peter Costello has become a permanently destabilising influence within the Liberal Party and should get out of politics unless he’s prepared to run for the leadership or rule out mounting a challenge, a growing number of Liberal MPs believe.
With June 30 looming as the date by which Mr Costello must decide whether to re-nominate for his seat of Higgins, fed-up Liberals believe he should only do so again if he can give a clear indication either way as to his leadership intentions.
In a special report on Mr Costello’s future, The Punch can reveal that the jockeying has begun in Melbourne for his blue-ribbon seat.
Institute of Public Affairs executive director John Roskam tells our website below that if Mr Costello does not nominate for Higgins he will put his name forward, saying the party needed an injection of new talent that was focussed on the future.
Former ALP national secretary Tim Gartrell has also written for the website labelling Mr Costello “a 14-year weapon of mass distraction” whose ability to divide not only his own party but the general public was a boost for Labor.
Liberal MPs told The Punch they are “fed up” with Mr Costello’s ability to take attention away from Malcolm Turnbull, who they believe has started to damage Kevin Rudd’s Government by targeting Labor over debt and the deficit.
“Everyone loves Peter but it’s now a case of p*** or get off the pot,” one Liberal MP said.
“I think people are over him. People are a bit sick of the whole dance of a thousand veils thing.
“If there was a ballot Malcolm would win it in a canter. The parliamentary party is really not interested in whether he re-nominates, if he does it’s not like we’ll all be throwing our hands in the air for joy, basically we want him to shut up and let Malcolm have a go.”
Another MP said: “The will-he-or-won’t-he speculation is indulgent and it’s damaging for the party.”
Some MPs said they wanted Mr Costello to stay because he added extra talent and experience to the Liberal team, but feared that speaking up in favour of him “because saying Costello should stay can be misread as a vote of no confidence in Malcolm.”
Frontbencher Tony Abbott said the prevailing view might be that Mr Costello should go but that it wasn’t necessarily “the considered view”.
“As a general principle I would like to see people of ability in the party, not out of it,” Mr Abbott said.
Mr Costello was the focus of anger within the party last month when, one week after the federal budget, two different polls, Newspoll and Nielsen, both pointed to a weakening in Labor’s vote which both sides of politics regarded as a sign of voter disquiet over the Government’s $58 billion deficit.
On the day the Nielsen poll came out Peter Costello did three interviews in three hours - which one Liberal MP labelled “nothing more than vanity” and others regarded as an unfair muddying of Malcolm Turnbull’s message on a rare good day.
Costello spoke to 3AW in Melbourne, 2GB in Sydney, and spoke here to ABC Radio where he was rightly quizzed straight-up about what prompted his latest foray into the public domain.
In his ABC interview Costello made light of what’s been labelled attention-seeking behaviour with the launch of his new website, petercostello.com.au, on the same day of the Federal Budget.
The site - which Labor hardnut Anthony Albanese re-named iamavailable.com.au - has been the subject of no small amount of groaning and eye-rolling from the Libs, who are irritated by the constant speculation.
In his ABC interview, Costello spent less time hammering the government than he did being quizzed about his future.
“People say to me ‘will you run for re-election in 2010’ and I have said ‘look I will think about that when it comes up’,” he told ABC radio.
“I am not focusing on those sorts of things because the way I look at it… having been elected at the last election, my obligation is to work for the electorate which I do.”
Read all about it
Up to the minute Twitter chatter
@Chritana01 No. NSW state
@FreeDannyJovica Hi guys, I sent you a Facebook message. What's the latest on Danny Jovica?
Writing column on orgasmic birth. Needed last line. Inspired by this necklace I bought. http://t.co/PgQ7jtGxaE
The latest and greatest
Good morning Punchers. After four years of excellent fun and great conversation, this is the final post…
I have had some close calls, one that involved what looked to me like an AK47 pointed my way, followed…
In a world in which there are still people who subscribe to the vile notion that certain victims of sexual…