Has the 15-year fight between Jeff Kennett and the Kroger-Costello forces thawed or not? Herald Sun political veteran John Ferguson attempted to pour water on Paul Austin’s story in The Age last week with a column this morning which should be available here later today. It included the following lines:

Kennett was, and remains, deeply unimpressed with the
concept that golf with Kroger could be seen in any way as a seismic
shift in the party. Sometimes a game of golf is just a game of golf.
Those close to Kennett insist the golf was simply reflective of the
fact that Kennett cares more about his friendship with Andrew Peacock,
whose daughter, Annie, is married to Kroger.

So when Kennett
read that 18 holes with Kroger reflected a transformation of the
Victorian Liberal Party, he simply laughed. The broad consensus within
the old Kennett grouping is that there has been “absolutely no shift”
in the party and that Kennett’s loyalties remained with the people who
had been loyal to him in the past.

If anything, the
“revelations” could lead to a tougher resolve to take back control of
the party – whenever that might be. If ever.

Ferguson was churlish in not naming The Age. If Andrew Bolt can mention The Age 48 times in his column this century, then clearly it’s not a sackable offence at Murdoch’s Melbourne tabloid.

But Ferguson’s thesis was also looking dicey this morning when this fascinating snippet appeared in The Age’s Carbone and Money gossip column:

Finally it happened yesterday. Former foes Jeff Kennett and
Peter Costello shared a luncheon table for two in Fitzroy. First time
ever, say pals. This follows Kennett’s groundbreaking round of golf
recently with Costello mate Mike Kroger. Costello doesn’t swing the
clubs but he still has his eye on a Canberra green jacket.

Golf with Kroger is explicable given the Andrew Peacock connection, but
lunch with Costello is something else altogether. If you can believe
Ferguson, Jeff was presumably telling the prime-minister-in-waiting how
some unpopular former premier was about to seize control of the Liberal
Party again. Let’s face it, The Age had a good yarn and the Herald Sun was scooped. Sometimes this should be acknowledged, rather than attacking it in a dubious way.

Jeff was a surprise guest on 774 ABC Melbourne’s Conversation Hour
this morning with the last of Jon Faine’s fill-in presenters, ABC
Canberra newsreader Virginia Hausegger. Unfortunately he wasn’t invited
to clear the conflicting theories up, although there might have been
agreed limitations on the topics for discussion.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey