“Six months shy of his 48th birthday and several years after some believe his prime ministership was due to begin, Costello still waits in the manner to which we – and he – are accustomed. Mostly patiently. Loyally,” writes Paul Daley in the opening of The Bulletin’s cover story on Treasurer Peter Costello.

Costello’s loyalty and patience is also evident is his dealings with The Bulletin, who unlike that other prime ministerial candidate Tony Abbott, did not ring Piers Akerman three days before his interview was due to appear and spill the beans. No, when The Bulletin’s editor Gary Linnell said he was confident his next exclusive would remain exclusive, he knew what he was taking about.

There were many interesting quotes from the interview but you’ve got to wonder how Mark Latham would react to Costello’s comment when asked if he feels for him: “Um, yeah I do. Yeah I do feel for him. He might have another 40 years. It’s going to be a tough 40 years for him, I think, the next 40 years.”

Costello has form when it comes to rubbing it in to troubled Labor figures. The Bulletin pointed out that same Labor figures still blame Costello for his taunting of Nick Sherry (“Oh Possum, you’re home.”) before his attempted suicide in 1997.

Costello’s supporters were all over The Bulletin’s Tony Wright, talking up suggestions of an informal Kirribilli Agreement in which Howard suggested in 1995 that he only wanted two terms. This is one of the quotes from “an insider”:

“When he was manoeuvring, Howard was saying to others: ‘I’ll only want two terms, then it’ll be over to Peter.’ It was part of the general assertion, his general pitch, that Peter would be given plenty of time if we won, along with Downer exiting with dignity and the wets being looked after.”

The Costello push would appear to be on, although the emerging economic dark clouds won’t make it in any easier. Still, Paul Keating managed to knock off Bob Hawke after giving us the recession we had to have, so anything is possible.

Read Paul Daley’s full interview with Costello on The Bulletin website here: The Costello challenge

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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