Former Victorian Treasurer Alan Stockdale was often seen as the brains
behind the Kennett revolution, but given the scale of reforms that were
achieved, his disappearance from public life has been puzzling for some
of his admirers.
Stockdale is the closest Australia ever came to a genuine Thatcherite
reformer, but on leaving office he failed to set the world on fire at
Macquarie Bank and will sever all ties with the bank in March when his
consultancy arrangement ends and he focuses on building an IR practice
at small Melbourne legal firm, Mills Oakley.
Stockdale should have flourished at Macquarie but he wasn’t much use in
dealing with the Bracks Government and wasn’t exactly warmly welcomed
by Peter Costello and John Howard given his perceived loyalty to
Kennett and the grief that Jeff caused them in the 1990s. This meant he
ended up heading government relations at Macquarie Infrastructure Group
and this mainly entailed trying to sweet talk the Ontario government
over the world’s biggest tollroad in Toronto.
However, some new exotic theories on the the Kennett-Stockdale relationship were passed on by someone last
week and they are worth exploring given that 2006 is an election year
in Victoria and the once dominant Liberal Party is looking so sick in the polls.
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Firstly, we’re told that the Kennett-Stockdale relationship started to
deteriorate once Jeff turned 50 in 1998, partly because he is said to have
indicated that he was interested in a handover of power to his
Treasurer, which self-evidently never materialised. Sound familiar?
Kennett was then very dirty on Stockdale for supposedly misleading him
on the strength of the Victorian budget during the 1999 campaign.
Remarkably, Kennett was voted out of office leaving a $1.8 billion
surplus but now says he would have pork-barrelled far more had
Stockdale not preached caution. Silly Jeff really should have known how
to read the budget papers after seven years as Premier but his reliance
on Stockdale on all things financial was quite profound.
Then there was the bitter break-up of Stockdale’s second marriage in
1999-2000, when he took up with Dominique Collins, the former wife of
NSW Opposition leader Peter Collins. Kennett did not attend the subsequent wedding
and he clearly sided with Doreen Stockdale as he used to interview her
on his all-to-brief 3AK radio program in 2002.
Whilst Stockdale would appear to have enjoyed more success in business
than Kennett, both haven’t enjoyed the stellar post-Parliamentary
careers they arguably deserved given all that was achieved in
government. It just goes to show how important it is to be nice to
people on the way up.
Kennett has no overt involvement with the Liberal Party these days
besides party membership, but at least Stockdale stepped up to become
chairman of the IPA a couple of years back, although the biography clearly needs updating and his last public contribution was way back in 2002.