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Mar 16, 2012

Costello's claims are again thin

The bizarre dispute over the government's appointment of David Gonski, rather than Peter Costello, to the chairmanship of the Future Fund has been spun as another example of Labor incompetence.


The bizarre dispute over the government’s appointment of David Gonski, rather than Peter Costello, to the chairmanship of the Future Fund has been spun as another example of Labor incompetence.

The Rudd government appointed Costello to the board of the Future Fund — and earned considerable criticism from its backbenchers for doing so — primarily on the basis that Costello had established the Fund when treasurer. He had virtually no senior corporate experience to speak of, nor was it clear he had the high-level financial skills required to oversee the investment of $70 billion worth of taxpayers’ money.

This hasn’t stopped Costello attacking the government, of course, and nor should it, but now Costello has launched a new attack on Labor for the process of appointing Gonski. The suggestion, made explicit by Tony Abbott and others in the Coalition, is that Costello was the better man for the job. Even John Howard, who knows a thing or two about not giving Costello the top job, weighed in.

Earlier this week, the Coalition suggested Stephen Smith should resign from the Defence ministry because bureaucrats and the armed services didn’t like him. Not merely is giving our defence services a veto over ministerial appointments a bad idea, such is that state of the Defence portfolio that being resented by the troglodytes responsible for gross mismanagement, procurement stuff-ups and the waste of billions of dollars should be a prerequisite for the job.

Now the Coalition appears to think the government should have allowed some of the Future Fund board to veto the appointment of the chairman.

Like the Defence ministry, the chairmanship of the Future Fund is far too important to be left to the whims of the incumbents. The government must appoint the best people and those prepared to deal with underperformance. And as its recent record suggests, the Future Fund has been significantly underperforming under David Murray.

David Gonski is an excellent appointment. Whether he is the right man for the job remains to be seen, but one thing is certain: Costello is not even in the same league as his new chairman.


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19 thoughts on “Costello’s claims are again thin

  1. peter.maywald@yahoo.com

    Peter Costello’s petulant dummy spit illutrates precisely why he should not have been made chair of the Future Fund – and why he never became Prime Minister.

  2. Holden Back

    Sense of entitlement, much?

  3. Jimmy

    Strange the way this story has been spun in the MSM as the govt playing politics when it clearly appointed the best person for the job and the coal ition wanting the best person when it is clearly playuing politics.

  4. robinw

    One of the most ordinary Treasurers in Costello being praised by Malcolm Fraser’s extremely ordinary Treasurer is not the sort of reference I would want nor one that I would expect the financial markets to be too impressed with.

    I don’t know enough about Gonski but if his CV is anything to go by then he would be far better than Costello by the proverbial country mile.

    One can see that in an Abbott government the ministers would be appointed by the mandarins. Likely, I’m sure.

  5. Mark from Melbourne

    Amazing the beat up over this, my understanding of the events are:

    1. Murray informs govt of plans to retire 12 months ago
    2. FF CEO resigns at same time
    3. Gov’t (or someone) decides it would be too disruptive to have both leave at same time so Murray asked to stay another 12 months. Good business sense IMHO.
    4. FF has been serially underperforming under current board
    5. Govt hires one of the main headhunters for senior positions. Not sure who they put forward but there was an approach to Andrew Mohl who declined. Sounds like there wasnt much else going on here.
    6. Govt asks Gonski to get the board’s view who all say “internal” – go figure.
    7. Gonski says “give me some external candidates”. They give him Mohl, Alexander and Gonski!!! Once again excellent business practice – keep it arms length.
    8. Govt feels that board has been divided and that board’s majority recommendation Peter Costello does not have the experience needed to do the job. Hard to argue with the latter view – Costello really has not done much in the private/finance role outside of being Treasurer which is an entirely different gig.
    9. Govt chooses Gonski who is universally applauded as being an excellent choice
    10. Mr Grumpy shows once again why he didnt get to be PM and never should have by doing a major dummyspit and reminding us all that “I did this, I did that, it was I, I…so I…”
    11. All the Government bashers come out to play. The OZ claims “Business is upset” but only seem to quote people with strong Liberal connections.


  6. cheryl hunt

    Major dummy spit by Costello. I understand that most of the appointees to the future fund, were by Costello, so no surprises that they would root for him. Furthermore, under Costello the bulk of the future fund is invested in big tobacco companies and nuclear power. Well now doesn’ t that just say it all about where his head is at! Costello may have put all the money in the future fund, but a lot of that money ought to have been bankrolling our infrastructure.

  7. zut alors

    For P Costello it appears the Future Fund offered only a limited future.

    Why it is a scandal or controversial that a government instrumentation has not become an automatic pseudo-retirement home for a former parliamentarian?

  8. Arty

    We all get the job we are entitled to.

    Don’t we?

  9. shepherdmarilyn

    Poor widdle Cossie, unloved and unwanted.

    This most ineffectual and lazy treasurer thinks he has a right to what ever he wants.

    Spoilt brat.

  10. davidk

    I understand David Murray is skeptical of human induced climate change. I wonder where Gonski sits.

  11. Whistleblower

    Another editorial byline straight out of the Labor Party spin machine. Does Crikey write its own anonymous editorials, or does it get Julia Gillard’s office to do it for them?

    The following quotation is derisory:
    “He had virtually no senior corporate experience to speak of, nor was it clear he had the high-level financial skills required to oversee the investment of $70 billion worth of taxpayers’ money.

    Is there anybody in the government that has had any senior corporate experience to speak of all or the high level financial skills to oversee a multi-billion dollar budget or a multi billion dollar infrastructure project that the NBN?

    LOL! I think not, yet the elected representatives here are making facile judgements as to who should be the chairman of the Future Fund Board. It is common practice for boards to elect their own Chair and the government has so little faith in the Future Fund board that it cannot elect its own chairman, it should have the courage to sack the lot of them and replace it with a whole lot of trade union hacks who we know are experts in financial (mis)management.

    As usual the usual conga line of suck-holes ( apologies to Mark Latham) is lining up to support the Gillard government in this latest act of betrayal.

    Whatever one might think about Costello role as Treasurer, he managed to pay off the massive deficit left behind after the last Labor Party train wreck , a situation that the incoming Coalition government in 2013 will have to start all over again to pay off Swan’s $200 billion borrowing spree.

  12. Steve777

    Mr Costello should just get over it. The Government doesn’t want him as head of the Future Fund, a much better candidate was available. And why all this fuss about the process? No one, even Mr Costello or the Opposition, is saying that David Gonski is unsuitable or unqualified. This is just a matter of the opposition making as much noise as it can in the hope of creating an atmosphere of crisis to destabilise the government. Of course their usual allies in the media and business are drumming it up in support.

    In any case, why on Earth should the Government appoint a political enemy to a key position? Did John Howard ever do so? The Howard / Costello Government’s record in appointments is hardly exemplary. In the case of the ABC, Mr Howard appointed his best mate chairman, stacked the board with political allies and apparently tried to wreck it by appointing Jonathan Shier as General Manager. A case of the pot calling the kettle black I’d say.

  13. Jackol

    Dear Crikey.

    As a regular Poll Bludger addict/contributor, can you advise what the current situation is?

    There have been issues all week, and today commenting has been shut down altogether, presumably to avoid the chronic server issues today.

    There is no information from Crikey as to what is going on, or what expectation we might have for a remedy.

    Is this a temporary issue, do your experts have a firm grasp on what is going on, and do you expect Poll Bludger to be “live” again any time soon?

    If this is an ongoing issue it has to be said that the viability of Poll Bludger as a thriving entity would be better served with it not being hosted by Crikey at all.

    NB: I comment here, on the editorial, as I don’t see any other public forum for discussing this that is enabled

  14. Dogs breakfast

    What a rooster, cough, Costello is.

    Comparing David Gonski with Costello, there isn’t one job I would appoint Costello over Gonski, other than Queen of the Sulks, if such a position were going.

    Gosnki, pre-eminent businessman in Australia, without peer. Not a got lucky miner, a genuine businessman.

    Whistelblower, when you can land a blow you be sure to let me know. What you know about how government works would fit on the back of a postage stamp. Business experience in government benches is about as helpful as flying skills to a snail.

    Governments get public servants to appoint business people to things like the NBN. The government doesn’t run the NBN, doesn’t get involved in day to day or strategic matters, they just provide the funding and the destination.

    But keep flailing away big fella, eventually you’ll say something that makes sense.

    Costello versus Gonski. Good grief

  15. shepherdmarilyn

    The future fund is a hoax anyway, the government just lied about it’s purpose.

  16. Malcolm Street

    Costello’s spat the dummy because he didn’t get a job handed to him on a plate regardless of his suitability – just like when he wanted to be PM…

  17. AR

    If, as the OO claims, bigbiz is upset at Costello not being appointed, then it is passing strange that so talented & in demand an expollie has not been snapped up by the aforesaid bigbiz.
    He pimped his sorry arse up & down Corporate Ave from the day the Rodent lost office (and probably long before) and not one of those sheltered homes for distressed, relevance deprived ex lackies offered him the price of a cup of coffee.

  18. Tom Jones

    I don’t know anybody who can be bothered discussing this issue except the Murdoch press. And even they are half hearted about it.

    It is quite clear that a non-political appointment has been made on the merits of the candidate.
    The Future Fund hasn’t been performing well and the choice of Murray as chair was always questionable.
    An internal appointment with this kind of performance wouldn’t make sense as new blood is needed – particularly so as the group seems altogether too cosy.
    In my community anyway there is no-one who cares about this brouhaha. Just as nobody was at all concerned about the Defence Department brouhaha except to think good on Minister Smith for standing up for a young woman who was being bullied.

    The Murdoch Press has been seriously damaged by what has happened in the UK. There is a Media enquiry which has made it feral with article after article extolling freedom of the press. However they are losing market share and no-one has an answer.

    Peter Costello is yesterday’s man and should go quietly. That would have some dignity.

  19. Kevin Cox

    It is obvious to anyone with any ethical sense that because Costello set up the fund he is now ineligible to head it. It is unethical that he is a governor. Costello should never have become involved in the Future Fund after he left politics.


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