Bastardry or brilliance? How about a bit of both?

Peter Costello is mightily miffed that his colleagues didn’t turn to his talents earlier, so he has decided to deny them their benefits opportunity in opposition.

It’s an almighty piece of petulance from Dollar Sweetie, but it’s not without its logic. Costello has given the ALP another scalp, but has also denied them a target.

Costello played a prominent part in the government defeated on Saturday. He was the anointed successor of a prime minister who has managed to lose his own seat.

He banged on endlessly about the Beazley black hole. It’s easy to imagine the lines Labor would have used to target against opposition leader Costello when they repealed “the extreme, unfair industrial relations legislation you wanted for 20 years”.

Costello simply doesn’t have the nerve to be leader. He feinted back in July last, but didn’t challenge.

Take it from someone who was there. Peter Costello could have been leader in the mid nineties. He had the numbers. He didn’t take the job.

If you’re leadership material, you don’t turn down something like that – even if you don’t feel ready.

Peter Costello isn’t, so he is going, but he has one vital task to complete. There will be a by-election in Higgins sometime before the end of next year.

Costello has to ensure the Liberal candidate is his old friend and mentor, Michael Kroger.