The
best thing about the McGauran defection is that the Liberal Party’s shiny new
recruit from the Nationals will probably increase the IQ of both parties.


No-one – not even the simpering defector himself – is pretending that Julian
McGauran’s political seachange is about recruiting talented prospects to boost
the Liberal Party’s intellectual firepower. McGauran is a main chancer who
stopped benefiting from the Nationals’ patronage system, so decided to jump
aboard the Liberal gravy train.

Peter
Costello’s delivery of this strange fruit to his party seems designed to achieve
two results: putting the squeeze on
Barnaby Joyce, with the bonus side-effect of delivering another party room vote
to McGauran’s friend and new colleague, the Treasurer.

His
old friends can please themselves – McGauran reckons the Nats are on the nose
and the Libs offer him a slim chance to advance his career. Costello welcomes
him as another vote in the party room (any fool has a vote). McGauran fires a
parting shot at Barnaby Joyce, snarling at those who seek to use the “balance of
power” in the Senate for their own ends. It really is the most cynical stuff –
even for career politicians.

Peter
Costello explained his grand coup with typical weasel words on ABC Melbourne
radio this morning: “The most important
thing is he continues to vote for the government…The
important thing is he’s in one (party) or the other.”

And
what about loyalty, asked interviewer Jon Faine, does that matter? “(Pause) The
one thing that would be in no-one’s interest would be if he sat in the Senate
representing neither party. Whether he does that with his Nationals hat on or
his Liberal hat on, the important thing is he continues to support the
government.”

So
there you have it; according to the Treasurer, there’s no real difference
between the Coalition parties – take your pick, they’re basically the same.
Maybe angry Mark Latham’s dummy spit over his former political mates and
enemies isn’t so off target after all.

As for McGauran, his political future
appears as vacant as his eponymous website floating in cyberspace awaiting
instructions from its owner.