Friday, 27 November 2009

Come Back, Peter Costello, All Is Forgiven

One hardly knows who is doing what to whom in the Liberal Party these days. I like many of the things Malcolm Turnbull stands for (e.g., ETS, the Republic), but I suspect his autocratic and idiosyncratic style will turn off voters just as it's turning off many of his party colleagues. I wouldn't trust either Joe Hockey or Tony Abbott with ten cents, the former because he comes across as somewhat shifty (on TV at least), the latter because he's a religious nut.

I must say I'm fairly satisfied with Kevin Rudd at the moment, although I question his resolve against illegal immigration (Howard was actually much better there) and I have increasing misgivings about his and Wayne Swan's commitment to bringing the budget back into surplus. I don't think these guys really get it on this fundamental economic principle.

So while I don't believe Australia is in a leadership crisis yet, it would be good for the Liberals to get their house in order. It's too late for 2010, because the psephologists tell us the swing to Labor in 2007 was a two-election swing, meaning that 2013 is the earliest the Liberals can hope to make it back. But the earlier they start, the better.

So who do I think is the best leader for the Liberals?

Peter Costello.

I think Peter Costello's journey to the very top has been a series of missed opportunities. He'd been repeatedly stiffed by John Howard who failed (we're told) to honour his promise to stand aside at some stage, and he (Costello) announced his retirement just when things were getting interesting. But who knows, he could yet be persuaded to come out of retirement and take charge.

He's one guy who understands the value of a surplus budget. Heck, he's the only guy in recent history who delivered one. And he took a strong stand in favour of cultural integration as opposed to weak-kneed laissez-faire multiculturalism. I'd vote for him, and definitely if the Labor jokers don't demonstrate serious intentions of fixing the budget soon.