He may have been an indolent Treasurer who milked the best of times and half-hearted leadership aspirant who never had the ticker to challenge, but Peter Costello is no slouch at publicising his book. If anything, he’s been too successful with his less-is-more marketing strategy, but that’s the fault of his party colleagues.

Despite talk that the Liberal party room wants more consultation these days, it is showing every sign of the same timorous, infantile inability to make a decision that ensured John Howard stayed in charge long after it became clear he didn’t have a clue about how to stop Kevin Rudd. Liberal MPs can still only wring their hands and fret while waiting for their leaders to make up their minds whether to stay or go … again. It’s a pathetic and unedifying spectacle.

Folks, listen up: there are no shortcuts back to office. Peter Costello is not a magic solution to the difficulties of Opposition – he was number two in the team that took you there. There is only hard work to address the reasons why you lost, and to give Australians a reason to vote for you again, based on sound policies and confidence in your competence to implement them. The sooner you accept that, and stop looking for leadership messiahs, the sooner you’ll seriously challenge the Government.

Peter Fray

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