The AFR’s Laura Tingle carried some interesting quotes from
former Ansett and British Airways CEO Rod
Eddington this morning, pointing to the extraordinary grovelling that
is going on around John Howard’s 10th anniversary celebrations. Try
these lines for size from the chairman of JP Morgan at the big Canberra
dinner on Thursday night:

Prime Minister, this has been a remarkable ten years and
your leadership and the way that you’ve led your team is something that
all of us in the business community admire. Those of us who have the
privilege of sharing this special night with you salute you and extend
our gratitude to you for what you have done for our great country over
the last ten years and we wish you well and continued success in the
years to come.


Eddington was part of the News Corp board that dumped Australia and
shifted its head office to the US in 2004, something that only could
have happened after Peter Costello introduced capital gains tax
rollover relief a few years earlier. Rod clearly hasn’t been reading The Australian lately which has been belly-aching about the government’s lack of reformist zeal, especially on tax.

However, what is more surprising is that he’s prepared to be so
partisan at a Liberal Party fundraising event when another of his gigs
is being chairman of the Melbourne Major Events Company for the Bracks
government.

The same goes for investment banker Trevor Rowe, the man who Peter
Beattie installed as chairman of the $45 billion Queensland Investment
Corporation. Rowe was at the Sydney celebration last night and publicly
declared that John Howard was “an extraordinary global statesman”.
Here’s the full quote in The Australian:

We have never had a Prime Minister with that kind of
standing – certainly in my lifetime. The way he has conducted himself
on a global stage has given him this global statesman position, which
not only in terms of geopolitical context has been good for Australia
but from a business point of view has been very helpful with the
Chinese and elsewhere.

You’d think Australia had led a successful United Nations mission into
Iraq if you believe this sort of garbage. As for being a genius with
the Chinese, people forgot that they are desperate for energy and we
happen to have a lot of it. Only a mug of a prime minister could have
stuffed that up and the much-lauded $25 billion Woodside gas deal was
done about three years too early in terms of maximising the price.

Peter Fray

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