Yesterday, we looked at what “power broker” Michael Kroger was offering the Liberal Party: The gift of more power for himself and his friends.

Well, his is not the only view.

There are other Liberals with other views. At least two of them, anyway.

One isthat ofPeter Coleman. The other, of Peter Dutton.

Let’s have a quick look at the offerings of these two Peters and then conclude with a rhyme.

Peter Coleman(Peter Costello’s father-in-law, former editor of Quadrant, about to celebrate his 80th birthday)

THERE is something of an old-fashioned melodrama in the Howard story, a sort of Picture of Dorian Gray. He emerged in public life as a young man of high ambition and great promise. He rose to dizzy political heights.

John Howard worked very hard for decades to get to where he got. His rise was in no way sudden, incredible, or astounding. He succeeded mainly because he stuck to his guns as a man of principle and was trusted by the public.

He was commonly referred to as “Honest John.” And that’s what he was -and is.

But there was a fatal flaw which brought him low and devastated his party. It is his colossal egoism.

His fatal flaw was his tantrum-throwing, entitlement-mentality Treasurer, Peter Costello – Peter Coleman’s son-in-law – who repeatedly demanded that John Howard hand him the leadership of the Party.

Peter Costello(2006): “He told me that he intended to do one-and-a-half terms as prime minister and then would hand over.”

Peter Costello(2006): “He told me that he intended to do 1 terms as prime minister and then would hand over … ”

About Peter Costello(2005): In comments that will anger his Treasurer and heir apparent, Peter Costello, Mr Howard said he was “not planning my post-prime ministerial life”

About Peter Costello (2003): John Howard has committed to remaining as Prime Minister for as long as his party wants him, throwing doubt over the ambitions of his Liberal deputy, Peter Costello … [who]… was moved to declare “it wasn’t my happiest day” …

About Peter Costello (2003): I don’t think he’s [John Howard] closed any options off, really … He’s still looking good and it remains to be seen whether … Peter Costello really has the support or the courage even to make a tilt [at the leadership]

In the early years the electorate welcomed his commitment and (on a good day) his eloquence. It looked for new directions and he offered them. But as the Howard years rolled by, his virtues came to be seen as vices.

Howardwas Australia’s second-longest serving Prime Minister. He became Prime Minister each time because people voted for him and his Party.

His determination to win at any price gradually now seemed to be an almost brutish selfishness.

Peter Coleman’s son-in-law, Peter Costello, regularly undermined the Prime Minister and threw tantrums because John Howard wouldn’t hand over the Prime Ministership.

The public came to see his agenda – from the gun laws or his rejection of political correctness to the liberation of East Timor or Work Choices – as populist stunts or wedges directed at the Labor Party.

“The public”?No.

The public – even many who didn’t vote for John Howard – liked his rejection of political correctness. And as for WorkChoices being a “populist stunt”- since many people, including Liberal voters, were uncomfortable or confused or even opposed to the WorkChoices labour market flexibility laws, it’s hardly likely they saw it as a “populist stunt”. It wasn’t that popular across large segments of Australia.

John Howard is greatly admired by millions of Australians,including me.

It even came to see, however unfairly, his great international achievement – the APEC conference of world leaders – as a self-indulgent wank. (It will, ironically, be remembered as a platform for the Mandarin-speaking Rudd.) Even smaller issues such as living in Kirribilli House came to be seen as social-climbing …


The public and party doubts all came together early in September, weeks before the election was called. His ministers again suggested he relinquish the leadership.

Which ministers?Some may have wanted it. The Peter Costello supporters certainly did. They didn’t just want Mr Howard to “relinquish”. They wanted to hand the leadership over to Mr Costello.

He again refused. Then he made this amazing challenge to his colleagues: “I have never run from a fight before and I don’t intend to do so now.”

Anyoneof theLiberal Parliamentarians can stand for leader if they want to have a go AND have the numbers. If Peter Costello had the numbers he could have gotten it. Here merely needed to put his hand up and call for a vote. But he didn’t.

He was, in other words, prepared to fight the Liberal Party as much as the Labor Party.

And good on him, too! Certain Liberal Party members were fightinghim. Should he just roll over andplay dead?

Instead of supporting Mr Howard, getting behind him and fighting Labor to try to win another term, certain Party members were spending their time and energy fighting John Howard.

He was willing to damage the Liberal Party rather than resign.

Some of Mr Howard’s colleagues were willing to damage the Party rather thanjoin the fight against Labor, and working to show voters whythey should vote Liberal.

His egoism had become catastrophic and the government’s defeat certain.

BlameHoward! BlameHoward! It’s all his fault. Nobody else’s. Nobody else contributed to the problem, right?

The scale of that defeat may also have damaged the Liberal Party’s prospects for years to come.

And Peter Coleman’s article isn’t damaging?

But it won’t do to blame Howard entirely.

Oh,spare us man!

The parliamentary party and the ministry condoned his egomania.

Looks like were not going to be spared.

Well, enough of this nonsense. Let’s have a look at some other nonsense.

But here’s one more item from Peter Coleman. From an ABC article:

Mr Coleman also says Mr Howard destroyed Mr Costello’s chance to be prime minister.

“There is no doubt that this man of great promise and great ability was blocked by [Mr] Howard’s egomania,” he said.

[ … ]

“And that put an end to a lifelong ambition that this very able fellow Costello had.”

A “lifelong ambition” was crushed? Since when are lifelong ambitions handed to people on platters?

And what stops Costello from trying to be Leader of the Opposition, and working hard over the next few years to win at the next election?

Is that also John Howard’s fault?

Why did Costello just up and quit after the Liberals lost the election?

Malcolm Turnball, who’s about the same age as Mr Costello, has stayed on, and I’m sure also has leadership ambitions.

Moving right along, we nowturn to TheLiberal Party’s Peter Duttonto see what he has to offer us:

… The Australian public bought the [Labor Party] slogan of “New Leadership”. The new Liberal leadership team must go one step further and have substance as well.

Did someone say “substance“!?

i.e. Something solid, substantial. Ideas, policies, proposals, principles that we can sink our teeth into!

Are you ready?

Substance will be delivered by …

Are you excited?

Then, as you read what’s to come, yourmission is to determine:

  1. Is there anything in the following comments that couldn’t be equally said by Labor or the Democrats or Family First?
    i.e. That is actually specific to the Liberal Party?
  2. Is there anything in the following comments which actually has any substance regarding “substance“?
    i.e. That is anything other than just papor PR-speak?

Here we go ….

… putting together a shadow cabinet mixed with experience and new faces, together building on a proud 11 years, to deliver contemporary policy with which young Australians and families can connect.

Okay. It’s coming ….

We have to re-engage the 18 to 40 demographic, which respects our message about economic management but expects and demands much more.

Such as?

We must get them listening and we will do that only if we are first listening to some pretty clear messages out of the election result.

Which are?

We do have a good record on the environment, but we should do more on the issue of climate change.

Such as?

We do have a good record on employment, but the Australian public was not happy with Work Choices, and we need to refresh our policy on industrial relations.

Meaning what?

The new team must also hold true to our core Liberal beliefs

Which are?

and not walk away from economic reform, not walk away from bold new policies

Such as?

and not walk away from our proud period in government.

We need bold new policies, but we mustn’t walk away? I’m a bit confused here.

I’ve just re-read the above. Sorry, still confused. Oh well, on we go …

Whatever the result of today’s Liberal leadership ballot, we do have a good message to sell.

Which is?

Both in terms of where we were under Howard and Peter Costello and where we are headed;


and we owe it to all Australians to work harder than ever, and to get out there and sell that message.

Which message? The new, bold, refreshed message? Or the one we haven’t walked away from?

Enough of this. Let’s leave off with arhyme!

Peter Coleman
Is the old man
Full of Johnny bile

Peter Dutton’s
Full of nuttin’
But a cheery smile

One’s a Peter Pap-in-law
He’s 80 and he’s sore

Because his little Golden Boy
(Who just walked out the door)

Was crushed and ploughed

By that John Howard

That egomaniac!

Who wouldn’t heed the tantrums
But Oh! says Peter Pap

Now let’s not blame
Let’s just be lame!
It’s really grand
To be as bland
To be as bland as ever

Use lovely words
Use modern words!
Just string them all together!

Like …
Our policies will now be
We’ll RE-ENGAGE some
The very
With our DYNAMIC

And … And …

Well, anyway, you get the point
I’m glad we’ve had this chat
My name is Peter!

So is mine!
And we’re both full of

Merry Christmas.

(c) 2007 PRODOS

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