After searching for 14 months, Pete Costello finally gave up – the safe Liberal South Australian businessperson of reasonable stature must be extinct.

Or maybe just hiding under the cloak of political expediency that comes from living with a Labor state government. In any event, Dollar Sweetie surrendered. He tried looking in Queensland for a similar specimen, but again came up empty – if there wasn’t a touch of the property developer about them, they had been compromised by spending too long with Peter Beattie.

So finally, with the length of the search becoming embarrassing, Cossie compromised as well, settling for a former South Australian as the best he could do. And thus Graham Kraehe was appointed to the Reserve Bank board.

Most attention on yesterday’s announcement concentrated on Ric Battellino’s appointment as deputy governor – but that’s only been a five-month vacancy before the Treasurer gave in and let the RBA have the appointment it and the financial markets wanted.

Replacing Robert Gerard after the tax scandal was much harder as the minority states just aren’t producing the sort of chaps Cossie wants for the RBA board – safe, untainted Liberal Party supporters who have never been seen holding hands with Labor types.

The Oz provided the most detail on Kraehe, making the effort to talk to him, but the SMH scored the telling line:

Mr Kraehe was chosen for his background in the manufacturing industry and his South Australian roots.

So coming from SA was enough. It’s a bit sad for the provinces and the Liberal Party that they couldn’t come up with anyone who actually lives there.

But most importantly, Graham Kraehe will be a most welcome addition to the RBA board – as a wine man he’ll know how to make the most of the bank’s fine cellar at the monthly lunches and perhaps provide some useful guidance on oenological investments.

Peter Fray

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