Silence makes the perfect speech. Peter Costello is proving one thing – silence often makes the most effective campaign speech. His appearance this morning well in front on the list of preferred Liberal Party Leaders comes with him being virtually silent since the election loss last November. While Brendan Nelson and Malcolm Turnbull have kept rattling away despite people not being interested in what they are saying, the former Treasurer has quietly got on with writing his political memoirs. Their publication will provide an appropriate event to either retire gracefully altogether from politics or to begin his campaign for the leadership he coveted for so long when John Howard’s deputy. The Age/Herald Neilsen poll found 37 per cent of voters preferred Mr Costello as Opposition leader, compared with 29 per cent for Mr Turnbull and 19 per cent for Dr Nelson.

Four middies is binge drinking? They’ve got to be joking. If the Federal Government is silly enough to endorse a recommendation that four middies constitutes binge drinking then Labor can say goodbye to a fair proportion of its traditional blue collar worker base. The mob will treat such a limit as a joke and it will undermine virtually anything the medical community says about any health risks at all. Brendan Nelson quickly realized that and this morning said the average Australian would not consider the National Health and Medical Research Council’s recommended upper limit for safe drinking of four middies of beer or three glasses of wine a day to be binge drinking. “We got a lecture from Mr Rudd about binge drinking in relation to ready-to-drinks and so-called alcopops, the next thing we had is a 70 per cent excise increase,” he said. “What we’ve got to see now from Mr Rudd is a firm declaration that he is not going to increase the taxes on beer and wine.”

The WA comedy continues. The political script writers for the Western Australian Liberal Party keep coming up with more amazing gags. On Friday Liberal Leader Troy Buswell dismissed his principal rival for the top job, Rob Johnson, from the shadow ministry because Mr Johnson had dared to say he would quit his portfolios unless the shadow Road Safety Minister John McGrath stood down or was dropped from shadow Cabinet. Mr McGrath earned Mr Johnson’s disfavour by using words written for him by the lobbyist Brian Burke that favoured one of Mr Burke’s clients over the use of radar trap detectors. Now Mr Buswell, having alienated Mr Johnson, has taken the role of spokesman on road safety away from Mr McGrath which leaves both men unhappy. Forget all those words from Premier Alan Carpenter about having no intention of calling an early election. I have never known a chief minister yet who can resist going to the polls when certain of re-election.

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