Geez, Peter Costello was seriously unhappy yesterday. Maybe it was the day it all finally became clear to him. The big day had arrived, when John Howard had moved on and he didn’t have to present his 13th Budget, but could sit back and watch someone else do it. Problem was, of course, he would be watching from a lot further away than the PM’s spot in the Reps chamber. And on the wrong side.

So he was in a testy mood when he agreed to speak to journalists at a doorstop yesterday morning. Indeed, downright Nixonian. He didn’t quite declare that we wouldn’t have him to kick around anymore, but he did declare that he’d had enough of being at the beck and call of journalists. He mocked David Speers’ question about leaving politics, which was fair enough, but then gave Michelle Grattan a serve about her glasses. Grattan’s eyesight may not be the best, but at least her ticker is in good working order, unlike the former Treasurer’s.

You reckon this man is sticking around politics for much longer? If he is, he probably shouldn’t count on getting an easy run from The Age.

“We gave you the surpluses,” Costello shrilled while Swan was delivering the Budget speech, shaking his head in disbelief that the Government wasn’t lauding the outstanding management of its predecessors.

It’s rather a worry that the man who ran the Treasury for so many years so evidently still doesn’t get it. You didn’t give any surpluses, Peter, not this decade, anyway. You sat and grew fat and lazy as all that Chinese money rolled in and the only decisions you had to make were about the size of the tax handouts you gave and how to encourage Ministers to find creative ways of wasting money.

Costello was also one of the last Coalition MPs to leave the Chamber after the Budget speech, as if stunned into incredulity by the fact that he wasn’t on the opposite side congratulating Treasurer Nelson, or Treasurer Bishop or, lawd help us, Treasurer Hockey, on another Coalition spend-a-thon. Hockey came around and shook Costello’s hand, evidently congratulating him on the sound budget position inherited by their opponents. Costello was doubtless chuffed.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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