You read it here first: Peter Costello has abandoned all hopes of ever becoming prime minister. Either that or he doesn’t have a clue how to do it. Actually, going by last month’s events we’ll settle for the latter, but… “Federal Treasurer Peter Costello has delivered a less-than-emphatic endorsement of Opposition Leader Ted Baillieu’s performance, warning that he only has three months to prove to Victorians that he deserves to win government,” The Age reported on Saturday. “In a lukewarm appraisal on the eve of today’s Liberal state council, Mr Costello urged Mr Baillieu — who critics say has kept a relatively low media profile since becoming leader — to show he had a plan to win the November 25 state election.”

Costello avoided talking about Liberals in his home state on Melbourne radio on Friday. “I think I will let that ball pass by the off-stump,” he told the ABC’s Jon Faine when he was asked about policy.

This isn’t just a Victorian story, it’s bigger than that. Try this for a headline: “Costello – it’s all about me”.

Peter Costello has certain responsibilities as the second most senior Liberal in the land. One of them is standing by his state colleagues – especially three months out from a poll.

If Peter Costello is a credible figure, it’s his duty to lend his state colleagues some of that credibility. His comments about Baillieu are either calculated white-anting or demonstrate that words come out of his mouth before his synapses start firing. Neither option is good for the Treasurer.

Costello needs support from his fellow Liberal MPs. Victoria is his home base. His federal colleagues will have noted how he treats the people there.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey