So… let me get this straight. Federal Labor’s primary vote falls 3%, Kevin Rudd’s satisfaction levels are down and dissastisfaction levels up, Malcolm Turnbull’s satisfaction rating is up, he has narrowed the gap on the famously all-important preferred Prime Minister’s rating … and apparently it’s a disaster for Turnbull?

When Mark Latham and The Australian are united as one, there is something downright unholy going on.

Latham lets fly in the AFR today, in essence demanding that the Liberal Party install Costello as leader so that he can take down Kevin Rudd, the man Latham despises for having so spectacularly succeeded where he so miserably failed. Perhaps in Costello Latham senses a spirit as troubled, confused and embittered as his own, and is drawn to him. “Costello deserves an apology and an inglorious display of public grovelling from his colleagues,” said Latham. Which of course is exactly what Latham thinks he deserves from Labor and, for that matter, the Australian people.

Meantime, The Australian has renewed the push for Costello that sputtered to an ignominious end last year when, after weeks of agitation on his behalf, Costello declined to stand for the leadership. You can lead a horse to water…

A three-point fall in Labor’s vote and a fall in approval ratings would, in 2007, have been the basis for front-page headlines, fevered commentary and a Bach oratorio celebrating the resurgence of the Howard Government. But that’s been forgotten in the rush to elevate Costello — even when the LNP is doing unexpectedly well in Queensland.

There’s one thing in Turnbull’s favour that is being overlooked. He’s a rainmaker. He’s an adept fundraiser and so is his friend and supporter Michael Yabsley, who has turned the Millennium Forum into a goldmine for the Liberals. While Costello might be able to hit the Melbourne Establishment for funding, he’s not exactly popular with the Australian financial industry and has nothing like Turnbull’s business contacts. After all, apparently Turnbull had some moderate success in the business world before entering politics. As Julian McGauran’s success in keeping his spot on the Victorian Senate ticket shows, money talks loudly and convincingly in political parties.

This was one the reasons why Andrew Robb should have got the shadow Treasurer job, apart from having ten times the substance of Joe Hockey. He can plug straight into the Melbourne business community. With Turnbull as leader and Bishop as deputy from Perth, the Liberals would have had three of Australia’s four largest business communities covered. Anyway.

Oh and there’s another thing as well. Malcolm Turnbull has no association with Workchoices. But Peter Costello will wear it to his political grave — which is exactly where Julia Gillard will put him if he returns to the leadership.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
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