Peter Costello has been staging his smug spectaculars in Question Time all week – but is anyone listening? Do they even know what he is on about?

Economic vandalism has been his big theme, raiding the Future Fund to pay for broadband.

The Treasurer mightn’t even be on firm ground to start with. The Government has blown most of the tax windfall from the commodities boom. ANZ chief economist Saul Eslake says  “It ill behoves anyone in the present Government to be giving out lectures on fiscal rectitude”.

The Australian reports today “Peter Costello’s attack on Labor’s $4.7 billion broadband initiative will be blunted by a Treasury report revealing the ageing of the population is becoming far less burdensome for the next generation.”

But back to Cossie’s cabaret. Day after day, week after week, year after year, the Treasurer stages his own over the top version of the Keating capers.

There’s a salutary lesson to be learned from how that act finally flopped after a long, strong run.

The Hawke government was famed for its big statements – economic statements, environmental statements, you name it. They had impact – and content. Keating continued them – the One Nation economic statement, Creative Nation – but the content got thinner and thinner.

Costello is doing everything he can to humiliate the opposition, but we’ve seen it all before.

What’s worse is that few people understand what he’s on about. He’s trying to say that Labor can’t be trusted to run the economy, but public servants’ super and the ins and outs of broadband delivery aren’t exactly barbecue stoppers.

Labor’s Lindsay Tanner had a nice riposte: “John Howard is still living in the land of the wind-up phone”.

And the PM and his Treasurer are cranking it up furiously, but just can’t get through to voters.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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