Red Kez went the Treasurer on The 7:30 Report last night over that biography:

Mr Costello, on the latest airing of the ongoing tensions between yourself and the Prime Minister, you still I don’t think, have really explained what on earth possessed you to make those derogatory remarks about Mr Howard in interviews last year for the Howard biography, which has just been launched, knowing that they’d be published in the shadow of an election. Surely an exercise of very poor political judgement on your part, quite apart from what it says about your loyalty?

Cossie blustered – naturally – but there’s actually a very simple answer.

The trouble is the Treasurer can’t say it, ‘cos it goes something like this: “I put the boots into the Rodent last year because I thought I’d be PM when the book came out.”

Quite an influential school of thought within the government believes that events over the past 12 months have gone like this:

July 2006: Cossie and the PM have their leadership spat. The PM promises his Treasurer he will go sometime over summer.

August 2006: Costello gives his first interview to Van Errington. He talks of John Howard’s record as treasurer.

October 2006: Costello gives his second interview to Van Errington, canvassing more recent events.

December 2006: Kevin Rudd becomes Labor leader. The PM tells his Treasurer he can’t go immediately as it will look as if he’s rattled.

January-February 2007: The PM tells the Treasurer he will go when the polls improve.

March-July 2007: The polls don’t improve.

August-election day 2007: It is too close to an election to change leaders.

Poor Peter. Poor John Howard, if the polls are true, too.