Peter Costello’s best mate Michael Kroger professes to be worried about
Melbourne’s declining status relative to Sydney and it seems the
Treasurer might just use the establishment of this Future Fund to kick
a couple of goals for his home town. Crikey carried an item on Friday
speculating that Melbourne lads Charles Macek and Charles Kieffel are
contenders for the two key positions of chairman and CEO.

Macek has worked his way inside Costello’s circle of influence to score
himself a position on the Telstra board and as chairman of the
Financial Reporting Council. Kieffel has had a lower public profile in recent years but is also in
Costello’s circle of friends and was appointed chairman of the Military
Superannuation and Benefits board in 1997. He is a behind-the-scenes
Liberal Party figure in Victoria and was a classmate of globe-trotting
economist David Hale at the London School of Economics in the late

Kieffel used to run ANZ McCaughan’s investment banking business in
Melbourne and even took philandering former Thatcher privatisation guru
Cecil Parkinson around Melbourne in the mid-1990s before the Kennett
Government’s $40 billion sell-off moved into full swing. Sadly for
Charles, his clients always tended to be underbidders in the great
Victorian energy sell-off.

You would think the Howard Government would’ve learnt by now that
appointments are best made based on merit, not mateship. Richard
Alston’s old mate Steve Vizard certainly didn’t work out too well at
Telstra and former Young Liberal Jonathan Shier was a disaster when
running the ABC.
John Howard’s mate John Pascoe was appointed federal chief magistrate
last year even though he’d been done over in the courts by the ACCC on a
couple of occasions during his time with bread-maker George Weston.

Finally, it was amusing to read Costello’s adviser Kelly O’Dwyer claim
on Friday that “the Treasurer does not endorse candidates in state
preselections.” Obviously this is a significant change in policy since
the battle between Louise Asher and then Costello staffer now Senator
Mitch Fifield for Alan Stockdale’s old state seat of Brighton in 1999.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey