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Federal

Mar 16, 2012

Costello's claims are again thin

The bizarre dispute over the government's appointment of David Gonski, rather than Peter Costello, to the chairmanship of the Future Fund has been spun as another example of Labor incompetence.

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The bizarre dispute over the government’s appointment of David Gonski, rather than Peter Costello, to the chairmanship of the Future Fund has been spun as another example of Labor incompetence.

The Rudd government appointed Costello to the board of the Future Fund — and earned considerable criticism from its backbenchers for doing so — primarily on the basis that Costello had established the Fund when treasurer. He had virtually no senior corporate experience to speak of, nor was it clear he had the high-level financial skills required to oversee the investment of $70 billion worth of taxpayers’ money.

This hasn’t stopped Costello attacking the government, of course, and nor should it, but now Costello has launched a new attack on Labor for the process of appointing Gonski. The suggestion, made explicit by Tony Abbott and others in the Coalition, is that Costello was the better man for the job. Even John Howard, who knows a thing or two about not giving Costello the top job, weighed in.

Earlier this week, the Coalition suggested Stephen Smith should resign from the Defence ministry because bureaucrats and the armed services didn’t like him. Not merely is giving our defence services a veto over ministerial appointments a bad idea, such is that state of the Defence portfolio that being resented by the troglodytes responsible for gross mismanagement, procurement stuff-ups and the waste of billions of dollars should be a prerequisite for the job.

Now the Coalition appears to think the government should have allowed some of the Future Fund board to veto the appointment of the chairman.

Like the Defence ministry, the chairmanship of the Future Fund is far too important to be left to the whims of the incumbents. The government must appoint the best people and those prepared to deal with underperformance. And as its recent record suggests, the Future Fund has been significantly underperforming under David Murray.

David Gonski is an excellent appointment. Whether he is the right man for the job remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: Costello is not even in the same league as his new chairman.

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19 comments

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19 thoughts on “Costello’s claims are again thin

  1. Mark from Melbourne

    Amazing the beat up over this, my understanding of the events are:

    1. Murray informs govt of plans to retire 12 months ago
    2. FF CEO resigns at same time
    3. Gov’t (or someone) decides it would be too disruptive to have both leave at same time so Murray asked to stay another 12 months. Good business sense IMHO.
    4. FF has been serially underperforming under current board
    5. Govt hires one of the main headhunters for senior positions. Not sure who they put forward but there was an approach to Andrew Mohl who declined. Sounds like there wasnt much else going on here.
    6. Govt asks Gonski to get the board’s view who all say “internal” – go figure.
    7. Gonski says “give me some external candidates”. They give him Mohl, Alexander and Gonski!!! Once again excellent business practice – keep it arms length.
    8. Govt feels that board has been divided and that board’s majority recommendation Peter Costello does not have the experience needed to do the job. Hard to argue with the latter view – Costello really has not done much in the private/finance role outside of being Treasurer which is an entirely different gig.
    9. Govt chooses Gonski who is universally applauded as being an excellent choice
    10. Mr Grumpy shows once again why he didnt get to be PM and never should have by doing a major dummyspit and reminding us all that “I did this, I did that, it was I, I…so I…”
    11. All the Government bashers come out to play. The OZ claims “Business is upset” but only seem to quote people with strong Liberal connections.

    Sickening.

  2. Whistleblower

    Another editorial byline straight out of the Labor Party spin machine. Does Crikey write its own anonymous editorials, or does it get Julia Gillard’s office to do it for them?

    The following quotation is derisory:
    “He had virtually no senior corporate experience to speak of, nor was it clear he had the high-level financial skills required to oversee the investment of $70 billion worth of taxpayers’ money.

    Is there anybody in the government that has had any senior corporate experience to speak of all or the high level financial skills to oversee a multi-billion dollar budget or a multi billion dollar infrastructure project that the NBN?

    LOL! I think not, yet the elected representatives here are making facile judgements as to who should be the chairman of the Future Fund Board. It is common practice for boards to elect their own Chair and the government has so little faith in the Future Fund board that it cannot elect its own chairman, it should have the courage to sack the lot of them and replace it with a whole lot of trade union hacks who we know are experts in financial (mis)management.

    As usual the usual conga line of suck-holes ( apologies to Mark Latham) is lining up to support the Gillard government in this latest act of betrayal.

    Whatever one might think about Costello role as Treasurer, he managed to pay off the massive deficit left behind after the last Labor Party train wreck , a situation that the incoming Coalition government in 2013 will have to start all over again to pay off Swan’s $200 billion borrowing spree.

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