Peter Costello

Peter Costello on how Christians should approach the media

I miss Peter Costello, and it seems being out of politics has freed him up a little bit in terms of speaking about his faith and dishing out advice to church leaders. This talk he gave to Anglican Ministers in Melbourne last week looks like a cracker.

He’s still funny.

“If I had been to church 40 weeks a year, I have probably listened to 1000 sermons and tonight could be payback time.”

Here’s the substance from a story with the Melbourne Anglican

“You only get a good media coverage if you agree with the media’s views.”

“The media has its own view of the world… and if you fall in with that, you will get a good press but if you want to promote the Christian Gospel, you will not.”

“The first thing I would say to the Church is, don’t measure your relevance by the amount of media coverage you get.”

“I actually think that media and celebrity is one of the great false idols of the modern age.”

“If the Church is going to speak on the issues of the day, it should be a distinctive contribution,” he said.
“The historic message of the Church, the Gospel, is a timeless message. It’s for every age. It does not have its relevance defined by what preoccupies us for the moment.”

“My message to you is that you have a wonderful calling and a timeless message and we look to you to keep us in faith.

“Don’t ever overlook the fact that no matter how high you are in Australia, you still need nourishment for your soul.”

Abbott and Costello on leadership

Apparently political leadership is all about unity. Unity is much easier when there’s a common cause involved – particularly a cause of value, or one that people can unite to believe in.

Tony Abbott doesn’t really get it. In a manifesto on his political leadership he suggests being in opposition successfully is about being in opposition.

Mr Abbott said he would work to bring the party together because it’s easier to manage a party when they oppose rather than negotiate with the government.

“The best way to unite a political party is to really go after your opponents, which is what I intend to do,” he told the Nine Network today.”

I disagree. I think the electorate does too.

Successful “opposition” doesn’t depend on disagreeing with everything the Government puts forward.

K-Rudd started getting traction with the electorate when he positioned himself as the “alternative Prime Minister” and his party as the “alternative government”… I got so sick of hearing those words before the last Federal election was announced – but mostly because I didn’t like K-Rudd and I could see a correlation between those words and his boost in the polls.

Real leadership means offering policies and informed, decisive alternatives. Not just saying “they’re wrong” as loud as you can.

Peter Costello has a column in today’s SMH detailing his problems with Turnbull’s approach to leadership.

He acknowledged some strengths of his methodology. But diagnosed the problem with Turnbull’s leadership as an inability to cultivate much needed unity.

“To promote unity, Turnbull needed to give all the shades of party opinion a say in proceedings, and to promote colleagues on merit regardless of whether they voted for or against him.”

“A political leader cannot take his base for granted. He must give voice and confidence to the party membership. Australian politics is detribalising. Rusted-on supporters are fewer than ever. To keep those supporters, a party must nourish and respect them.”

Costello seems to think Turnbull was unable to cultivate unity because he was a grasping power monger climbing above his station. He’s particularly scathing on Turnbull’s public statements about Liberal Party colleagues.

I have never seen a Liberal leader attack senior colleagues in the way Turnbull did on the weekend. Turnbull’s attacks have been sharper and inflicted more damage on his colleagues than Kevin Rudd ever did.

If I was running the Labor Party’s campaign in the seemingly inevitable double dissolution election I would be rubbing my hands at the prospect of ads just featuring quotes from Liberal Party members about other Liberal Party members.

Costello goes back to school

Peter Costello has a piece in the SMH on proposed changes to the discrimination laws, he chooses to focus particularly on the ramifications of changing this legislation for Christian schools.

“At present, discrimination statutes don’t apply to religious bodies and their schools on the grounds of freedom of religion. So a parliamentary committee has recommended options to extend the power of the state over the province of religion. One proposed change is to restrict the freedom of religious schools to choose their employees on the basis of their religious faith.”

I’m not apologist for Christian schools – they can create unhelpful monocultural microcosms that can cause problems for people engaging with the world later in life. On the flipside, they are really helpful institutions where children receive a better than average education at the hands of teachers who actually care about their development…

Forcing religious schools to make employment decisions free from preference to religion sounds equitable – but there’s no way a Christian School would hire an atheist teacher – they’d find other reasons to not hire them. It’s almost impossible to police. So it’s not a concern.

It is dumb though. And it’s the reason that Christians should push for a clear separation of church and state. It cuts both ways.

Costello to retire… one day… soon

The best Liberal Party MP never to lead the country has called time on his career (at the next election). Ending over a year of speculation and no doubt taking some pressure off Turnbull.

I like Costello. Particularly during Question Time.

Today both K-Rudd and Turnbull had some nice things to say about him – his Costelloesque* response (appropriate given that he is Costello…):

“It is just possible both sides of the dispatch box are happy with the announcement I’ve made,” he said.

“It is a very nice thing to actually come here and not be quite departed and hear the kind of speeches one hears as eulogies. In fact, I might come back tomorrow, I’m enjoying it so much.”

*the coining of a new adjective.

Crabb on Costello

The political coverage in the SMH today is all about one thing. The schism in the Liberal Party. It’s nice to have the Herald’s attention drawn so far away from any other schism.

Here’s a nice little analogy that even Ben – analogy hater of some renown – is sure to appreciate. Crabb argues that Costello is waiting in the political wings. Costello keeps saying “I’m doing nothing.”

“But Costello is like a hippo in a ballerina skirt – he’s kind of noticeable even when he’s not doing anything.”

Stimulating discussion

There’s a bunch of interesting commentary on the current stimulus package and associated bickering. It’s stimulating, if you’re into that sort of thing.

The Libs are taking the high “unpopular road” looking to block it. Claiming they’re doing the right thing, while the Labor Party is politicking “like a scared soldier firing all their ammo at once” – not a bad quote there from Turnbull.

It’s a dangerous game keeping money from voters while calling for lower taxes. Looks a bit like protecting the wealthy. Trickle down economics. I know I’ll be annoyed if they block it.

If Rudd wanted to score maximum points out of this politically he should have gone with a much bigger figure than $950. Say $3000. Something the coalition would have to block, rather than just grandstanding. Then when they blocked it and triggered a double dissolution the coalition would have to try dislodging a popular PM, having just robbed the voters of $3000. Political suicide. How much is a vote worth I wonder…

Articles from the SMH are written by, or quote, the following people:

Peter Costello

“Rudd, the fiscal conservative of last year, was attacking the Coalition government because it hadn’t cut spending enough. He promised to do more. He wasn’t worried about all those “neo-liberal” ideas on careful spending, balanced budgets and low debt. He was complaining it hadn’t gone far enough.”

Costello Re: the last stimulus package…

“If the purpose of the payment was to boost sales at Woolworths, the Government should have bought the goods and distributed them to pensioners and families. But it is a low-quality use of $10 billion.”

And more commentary from Annabel Crabb… on parliament yesterday…

“Hilarious nerd insults were exchanged.Rudd accused Turnbull of fancying Milton Friedman, and Turnbull retaliated by calling Rudd “Whitlamite”, the nastiest word in the Liberal nerd insult dictionary.

Then Lindsay Tanner accused Julie Bishop of having a soft spot for the Reagan-era economist Arthur Laffer.

Really, they all sounded like back row hecklers at a second-year economics open mike night.

Debate was then suspended for several minutes while a noisy band of protesters shrieked: “Human rights for all. Stop the intervention.”

In case you were wondering, they were not talking about the socialist state’s intervention in the free market.”

Even Top Gear’s Jeremy Clarkson, out here on an Australian tour, weighed in with this sterling commentary:

“”He (Rudd) genuinely looked terrified. The poor man, he’s actually seen the books.“[In the UK] we’ve got this one-eyed Scottish idiot, he keeps telling us everything’s fine and he’s saved the world and we know he’s lying, but he’s smooth at telling us.”

The last word goes to Economics columnist Ross Gittins – who explains that this stimulus is unusual but might work.

“But it will be the most anticipated recession we’ve had. Normally we get the recession and then the response to it. This time we’re getting the cure before we’ve seen all the symptoms.

Why? Because so much of the global recession we are caught up in emanates from the Wall Street debacle. Since the crisis reached its peak in October we’ve been able to see its consequences coming, like a slow-motion tsunami rolling across the Pacific.”

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