In the book current Treasurer Peter Costello:
- is critical of John Howard's election spending ($6 BILLION, during the election campaign in 2004)
- lets it be known that he and his wife have never been invited to a private dinner with the Howards, at either the Lodge (Canberra), or Kirribilli House (Sydney). Early in his Prime Ministership John Howard decided he would not reside at the official residence in Canberra, but at Kirribilli House, restored in the 1950s for visiting dignitaries of the Commonwealth.
- that a memo from Shane Stone, then Liberal Party President, that criticised Peter Costello was leaked from John Howard's office, because that is the only place it was sent.
- is critical of John Howard as Treasurer (when Malcolm Fraser was PM), saying he did nothing for economic reform as Treasurer; and oversaw high (11%+) interest rates
Today, both men tried to banish the issue, and put on "he's a great leader/treasurer/great working with him/best we ever had" spin. But it looks and sound just like , well ... "spin."
Many will form the opinion that John Howard kept Peter Costello in his box and let him out only occasionally to speak on matters economic, budgetary, to snipe at the Opposition in Parliament, or to say what a "good fellow is John Howard". Now, if we believe the polls, John Howard will lead the Liberal - National Party government to defeat, and deny Peter Costello his chance to be Prime Minister, at least for the next 3 years.
And yes, voters do seem to be becoming tired of John Howard's fear politics; the poor record of his social policies; WorkChoices; housing affordability; even the government's actions to retain control of fear politics. Peter Costello could have reason to feel piqued, even if he doesn't show it now.