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COST OF COSSIE: Lobbyist Peter Costello could be time-bomb for an Abbott government

CostofcostelloRevelations today in Fairfax that Peter Costello is currently under investigation by the Queensland Crime and Misconduct Commission for the conflicts associated with his new business as a lobbyist are sad, but should come as no surprise to anybody familiar with the history of “independent” corruption bodies.

Our view is that Costello is a very clever lawyer, and there is absolutely no way that he will be found guilty of any alleged breaches of the Queensland Integrity Act, the Public Sector Ethics Act, or the Auditor-General’s Act.

As VEXNEWS has repeated on a number of occasions, these star-chamber crime commissions like the CMC are politically charged witch-hunts. Just ask Nick Greiner. Or Tony Nutt.

Even though Peter Costello is clearly not guilty of any crime, some fear the headline-chasers at the CMC will inevitably recommend charges, and Costello’s good name could then be dragged through the criminal justice system for months or even years before finally being vindicated by a not guilty verdict.

Costello should never have opened himself up to the potential of such attacks. The apparent failure of BKK, his investment banking venture with Alistair Walton, was, in a strange way a testimony to how effective and impartial he was as Treasurer. Nobody up or down Collins Street now wants anything to do with him, so few were the favours and preferment he gave out while Treasurer. This also meant that he became desperate for a job, and accepted an offer he should never have contemplated.

The Fairfax tabloid’s front page attack with double-page-spread on former Fairfax columnist Costello is tawdry and predictable. For example, Costello makes it clear in his statement that the breakfast with Tim Nicholls in the BKK Boardroom was not “held” by him. He was just the host. And it was not a fundraiser. A copy of the QForum invitation has been exclusively obtained by Vexnews – have a look for yourself. It is clearly a free breakfast briefing, not a fundraiser.

Another politician-turned-lobbyist, David White, had many false allegations of influence-peddling made against him while heading Hawker Britton’s Melbourne office. Just as Costello will, White always stared down the lies and the haters. In fact, it is said that every time White and Hawker Britton were falsely accused of corrupt influence peddling, their client list boomed. We are sure that the same will happen to Costello’s lobbying practice, with business people rushing today to get a piece of the alleged Epstein Costello Gazard influence.

Of course, Howard loyalists are already crowing that this debacle just proves the point they have been making for twenty years: that Costello has shocking political judgment. Looking at startling similarities between the wish list of the Epstein Costello Gazard client list, and the recommendations Costello made in the Independent Commission of Audit, it is hard not to disagree with the Howard loyalists. While Costello did nothing illegal, he certainly wasn’t too astute as to how this would all look in the cold light of day.

Indeed, appalled Queensland LNP sources told VEXNEWS that Costello’s report was “lazy,” politically toxic and impossible to implement, in any event. One told us that Cossie has “cooked his goose” with Campbell Newman and this is almost certain the “last gig he’ll ever get out of the Queensland government” despite Costello’s close association with Treasurer Tim Nicholls, via Santo Santoro. The source explained:

“It took Costello eleven years as Federal Treasurer to pay down $96 billion of Labor’s debt using booming Commonwealth revenues. Costello’s report demands the repayment of $50 or $60 billion over three years.”

Costello’s report recommends widespread politically courageous asset sales and outsourcing of the kind that got Labor Premier Anna Bligh in all sorts of bother. This is why Premier Newman told the press he hadn’t yet read it yet. He is believed to be fuming about the whole thing, especially public remarks by Costello to the effect the government had no choice but to implement his politically risky plan described by another Queensland LNP source as “mad.”

At a micro level, this investigation is a massive blow to the recently independent Costello sub-faction. Until Costello is finally cleared of all criminal wrongdoing, Tony Abbott has the perfect excuse to exclude Costello’s proteges in what is shaping up as a very difficult post-election reshuffle.

Tony Smith and Senator Scott Ryan are already both struggling to retain their junior parliamentary secretary positions in the face of a strong push by Victorian Abbott loyalists Josh Frydenberg, Alan Tudge and Dan Tehan. Of course, it is already well known the contempt with which Abbott holds Kelly O’Dwyer. Question marks during the CMC investigation over the links of former Costello staff to the three Epstein Costello Gazard Directors will make Abbott’s decision that much easier.

Undoubtedly Michael Kroger will be crowing that he and Costello finally broke up before the Crime and Misconduct Commission went after the former Treasurer. It’s sad, though, because Kroger’s advice and commercial nous would probably have spared Costello this indignity.

The dominant faction in the Victorian Liberal Party Room – of which Ted Baillieu remains a member – will already be furious at the leading role that former Costello staffers Michael O’Brien and Scott Ryan have taken in the destabilisation and execution of the Baillieu government.

We can be certain that when Napthine goes to pass the torch, the Baillieu faction’s numbers will fall in behind anybody but the Costello candidate, be that O’Brien or Guy. Expect the tiny rump of Kroger supporters to cynically act as kingmakers, swinging their support behind whichever candidate offers their dwindling ranks the most front bench spots.


The much reported funnelling of $1 million from the Liberal Party controlled Higgins 200 Club to the Costello-controlled independent Higgins Foundation was only right. Costello raised the money, he was right to keep control of the money, which would have been wasted by Baillieu and Abbott on their own elections. The Costello faction’s slush fund is ideologically solid, patriotically supporting exactly the kinds of political, social and religious causes which resonate with ordinary Australians.

However, Baillieu’s IBAC is unlikely to be as polite and understanding of the matter as Tony Snell has been, should Cossie’s foes urge on a probe.

Some Liberals in Higgins are known to be talking about the spectre of another politically driven witch hunt by IBAC into whether the transfer of $1 million from the Liberal Party to the Costello faction slush fund constituted a breach of any law.

The Treasurer’s lobbying business represents a big challenge ahead for the next federal government, assuming as most do that Tony Abbott will be elected. You don’t need to be Nostradamus to realise that it’s an ethics row just waiting to happen. Many Liberals think it might be best for everyone for the former Treasurer to be offered an appropriately prestigious appointment within the next government’s gift whether to the High Court or a high-ranking Ambassadorship.


Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. Nick Whiner was found guilty by the ICAC and rightfully so

    Posted by the Insider | March 7, 2013, 14:39
  2. Is vexnews indulging in peptide cocktails this week?

    Posted by wtf | March 7, 2013, 14:58
  3. Your attack on the highly ethically principled Peter Costello is an attack on decency and Essendon’s Number One (Non-Incarcerated) Ticket-Holder.

    You are hereby expelled from the Essendon Football Club.

    Posted by James Turd | March 7, 2013, 15:09
  4. Taking loot from KOD is a national service not a crime.

    Posted by Cossie's Slushie | March 7, 2013, 15:10
  5. If Johnathan Epstein’s ‘insighful’ commentary on the ABC last night about Ted’s demise is any indication of the type of lobbying services ECG provide their clients then they are all being taken for a very expensive ride.

    Posted by Dryasachip | March 7, 2013, 16:14
  6. Peter Costello finds some cosy opportunities in Queensland, says Gee.

    Costello the carpetbagger travelled from north to south…


    Posted by Merchant Banker | March 7, 2013, 17:16
  7. Far from influence pedddling Epstein, Costello and Gazzard’s lobbying venture in Qld headed up by the son of former NT Chief Minister crashed and burned. Those close to the former Qld rep for the firm actually say that it was the reluctance of Cossa to engage in lobbying that spelt the end for the venture in the sunshine state.

    Posted by Qlder | March 7, 2013, 18:22
  8. Ooh… It’s all fun and games until somebody gets hurt.

    This is all starting to look serious.


    Posted by Anon | March 7, 2013, 22:53
  9. No but the Essendon FC is. Ban them for life. Go Swans – a real football club

    Posted by H the B | March 8, 2013, 9:23
  10. SH*T, when is $1500 a head to the LNP ‘clearly a free breakfast briefing’ and not a political fundraiser?
    That’s a lot of bacon and eggs

    Posted by SpencerStreetSoviet | March 8, 2013, 11:18
  11. Costello to the High Court?? I have never laughed so much.

    Posted by Mac | March 8, 2013, 11:22
  12. Australians deserve to know about the billions of dollars being stolen from them by Serco and the rest of the asylum seeker industry.
    As Richard Harding, former WA chief prison inspector noted, “These big global companies, in relation to specific activities, are more powerful than the governments they’re dealing with.”


    Time to put former politicians who help corporations steal from us in prison.

    Posted by Serco are robbing us blind | March 8, 2013, 11:37
  13. Scotty dog Ryan sank his poor ol mate in Corrangamite, then backed losers in 3 other Fed preselections and has now sent Matt Guy to the nackery. Can stack for himself but poison for others.

    Posted by Nebbo | March 8, 2013, 15:16
  14. John Hewson Forgets How He Lost The Liberal Leadership

    On 22 February 2013, Radio National Drive’s Friday panel was devoted to the topic “Blood on the Floor”. According to the program’s publicity, this involved “three of Australia’s most brilliant political minds” speaking to RN Drive presenter Julian Morrow about the human dramas behind political life”. The “most brilliant political minds” belong to Bruce Hawker (Labor political strategist), John Hewson (former Liberal Party leader) and Niki Savva (columnist for The Australian).

    There were two problems with the concept. Julian Morrow (RN Drive’s Friday presenter) is a comedian who freelances as – yet another – leftist presenter on the ABC. He is tops for jokes and sneering – but somewhat light on history. What’s more, those who are advertised as having “brilliant political minds” do not always have reliable political memories.

    This is what John Hewson had to say about the circumstances which led to his being replaced as Liberal Party leader on Monday 23 May 1994 by Alexander Downer. Let’s go to the transcript:

    Julian Morrow: What about, you know, at the risk of asking you to reflect on things that you might not look on so fondly. What about your departure from the Liberal leadership? Do – that seemed to be not defined by policy issues. How did you experience that?

    John Hewson: The truth was that, at, when I lost in ‘93 I wasn’t going to stand again. I thought about it for a while and I saw that [John] Howard would become leader and I was worried that the unity that I’d built – and the policy credity [sic], credibility, that I built – would be sacrificed because he’d divide the party. In my view, he was going to polarise the party on the basis of two issues – the republic and native title. So I stayed on to handle those two issues. I said to my closest colleagues, I didn’t imagine that I would survive.

    I left for personal reasons, er, related to miscarriages and that sort of thing. Personal reasons at home. But I decided that I wanted to force the party to make a choice. It wasn’t a choice on policy. It was really a choice on who was going to replace me cos I wanted them to organise an alternative and to run that alternative. And I personally thought it would be Costello but as it turned out it was Downer, backed by Costello….

    But having said all that, I mean, I, er, felt it was important that they did address the issue of leadership. It wasn’t about a policy direction – although they weren’t going to go back to Fightback!, easily go back. Tax reform was inevitable. But they weren’t necessarily go back to Fightback! Or go back to GST. But it was important, I thought, that they actually made that decision. So that’s – I handled it as best I could. But I’d made a decision to go and announced that decision.

    Brilliant political memory? Er, no. Not at all. Here’s what really happened.

    As Opposition leader, Dr Hewson led the Coalition to defeat in what was called “the unloseable election” on 13 March 1993. Hewson was re-elected as Liberal Party leader after the election. But many Liberal MPs doubted whether they could win government with him as leader.

    Leadership speculation commenced on Sunday 14 May 1994 when Liberal frontbencher Peter Reith criticised Hewson on a policy issue. Hewson initially said that Reith’s comments were unexceptional but later publicly rebuked him. On Tuesday 17 May, Hewson – during a live interview on Lateline – was presented with critical polling which had been released by a Liberal Party operative – Malcom McGregor. On the same day, former Liberal prime minister Malcolm Fraser suggested it was time for a leadership change. Hewson declared that he would not stand down.

    On Wednesday 18 May, Hewson said: “I am here and I am going to stay and I’m going to fight all the way, let me tell you.” The following day, Hewson stated: “I am going to stay … and lead the party to the next election and we are going to win.”

    At 4pm on Friday 20 May, Hewson announced that there would be a spill of leadership positions the following Monday and said that he would re-nominate: “I have always been absolutely confident that I have the support of the parliamentary party – and I remain so. What is at stake at the present time is not so much the future of John Hewson as the future of the Liberal Party itself”. He challenged his Liberal Party opponents “to put up or shut up”.

    Soon after, Alexander Downer and Peter Costello issued a joint statement headed “Liberal Party Leadership”. They stated their belief that “it is in the interests of all the Liberal Party members and all Australians for the Liberal Party to make a fresh start and elect a new leadership team on Monday”. The statement announced that Downer would stand for leader and Costello for deputy leader.

    On 23 May, the morning of the poll, Tony Staley (the Liberal Party’s federal president) called on Hewson to withdraw from the ballot. Moreover, former Liberal leader Andrew Peacock supported the Downer/Costello ticket. Staley said that even if Hewson survived the leadership ballot it would only be a “temporary “arrangement. Senior Liberal Party frontbenchers Peter Reith and Bronwyn Bishop also publicly supported the Downer/Costello ticket.

    On Sunday 22 May, John Hewson said that his re-election as Liberal leader was vital for the future of the party:

    Discussions with my colleagues since last Friday have confirmed the view that I put last Friday that at tomorrow’s special party meeting I will be reconfirmed as leader of the Liberal Party. There’s a fairly widespread view that we need to be a tolerant and inclusive and broadly based party in order to win the next election. There’s a very strong view that the best way for us to win that election is to reconfirm my position as leader tomorrow.

    The Liberal Party’s leadership ballot commenced at 2.30 pm on Monday 23 May 1994. Shortly after, it was announced that Alexander Downer had defeated John Hewson by 43 to 36 votes with Peter Costello being elected unopposed as deputy leader.

    So, there you have it. On RN Drive on 22 February 2013, John Hewson claimed that he “left” the Liberal Party leadership for “personal reasons”. In fact, he fought a bitter leadership contest and lost.

    The contest was so bitter that, on the Friday before the ballot, Hewson released an open letter to “Liberals and all Australians”. In this, Hewson declared that he was “not from ‘the Establishment’” and did “not attend a private school”. He added: “I got an education through my own hard work, not my parent’s [sic] money. I didn’t belong to the ‘right’ clubs or play the ‘right’ sports or even believe in the ‘right’ religion.” The implication was clear – Hewson was running a class war line in an attempt to save his leadership. He even pointed out that he was not a member of the Melbourne Club.

    And, nearly two decades later, John Hewson would have RN Drive listeners believe that he stepped down from the Liberal Party leadership for personal reasons, having groomed his successor. But MWD remembers what he said and did in 1994.

    Posted by Hendo | March 8, 2013, 15:28
  15. Costello? Was he on Matt’s team too? No wonder Guy was overlooked.

    Posted by Anon | March 8, 2013, 15:39
  16. Phil Davis is the one with Ted’s blood on his hands, he was happy for either Guy or Napthine to take charge and created the conditions necessary for the coup.

    He is the new kingmaker of Spring Street, look for him to be promoted back to a senior position some time soon.

    He’ll have to hope he’s not caught up in IBAC, along with Andrew McIntosh who’d convincingly kept his head down.

    Posted by Mobby | March 8, 2013, 16:42
  17. I am all powerful. Never miss with me!

    Posted by Rivers | March 8, 2013, 18:32
  18. it’s a Star Chamber for Peter Costello but not when it’s Eddie Obeid.

    Posted by oscar | March 8, 2013, 18:34
  19. Fatty the Party needs me and my astute legal mind.

    Posted by McPerton | March 8, 2013, 19:23
  20. Auditors who are truly independent and any good will generally annoy management by pointing out weaknesses in their systems and failures in their operations.

    The Costello Audit in Queensland is spot on. It may be politically unpalatable for the Premier but if you can’t achieve change and reform with a whopping big majority, you might as well step aside and let someone with courage and values step in to do the job.

    Posted by Giuseppe De Simone | March 9, 2013, 23:13
  21. I recently had to contact Adam Bandt to seek assistance on a immigration matter. The person who responded to my issue was a junior who had no knowledge of the Immigration Act or how the department works. I thought my contact was confidential but was surprise to be recently contacted by someone from the Greens seeking fund raising. It was clear that Adam Bandt’s office had provided my contact details to a third party without my consent for purposes not related to his role as member for Melbourne. This I would have been a breach of Parliamentary privilege and the privacy act.

    Posted by Green corruption | March 10, 2013, 8:13
  22. Why is Tony Abbott always questioning my integrity?

    Why is Peta Credlin always questioning my integrity?

    Why is Brian Loughnane always questioning my integrity?

    Why is Sarah Henderson always questioning my integrity?

    Why is my hero Senator Ryan always questioning my integrity?

    Why is my former hero Senator Kroger always questioning my integrity?

    Why is EVERYONE always questioning my integrity?

    Posted by KOD | March 10, 2013, 15:47
  23. This month is the 10th anniversary of the illegal, unjustified and murderous invasion of Iraq by that cunt George Dubya Bush and his loony coalition of the killing most of whom are not even a foot note in the pages of history.

    For example can anyone remember the name of the Portuguese PM at the time? See told you.

    No WMD’s and no Al Qaeda only a secular dictation running Iraq. I knew that in 2002 before the invasion but fuckwit John Howard and his grovelling cabinet did not want to know.

    Between 100,000 to 900,000 Iraqis killed, murdered or starved as a result of the invasion and the country is in a worse state politically and economically now that before the invasion.

    Posted by Adrian Jackson | March 10, 2013, 20:12
  24. Never thought I’d agree with Jacko but I agree ten year anniversary one hundred thousand killed and nearly all of them by fellow Muslims , fellow Iraqis, neighboring fellow Muslims insurgents , Shea Vs Sunni .. all peace loving of course..

    Iraq fought a ten year war with fellow peace loving Muslim neighbor Iran and over one million of their own kind killed.

    Iraq invaded fellow Muslim Neighbor Kuwait but hey who did the Kuwaitis call for help North Korea Nope, Venezuela nope, Arab league Nope, the Palestinians Nope who did they call THE WHITE HOUSE ‘ WASHINGTON”,.. of course..

    Posted by Michael Burd | March 10, 2013, 20:35
  25. BTW Jacko
    peace loven Muslims killing each other as we speak in Iraq,Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia ,Sudan, Pakistan, Chechyna, kasmir, Peace loven Pirates murdering , hijacking taking hostages in the high seas and guess what Jacko not a pesty Israeli , Zionist , Jew or Dubya in sight, funny that >>>

    Posted by Michael Burd | March 10, 2013, 22:18
  26. Costello is without a doubt the greatest punce to walk the earth. He sold our gold for $300 per ounce….it trades today above $1500 an aounce….dickhead.

    Just like Barry in nsw these creeps are out to sell off our assets whereever and whenever they govern…they know they can clip the energy ticket of the entire country…Costello and his ilk are cunts of the first order.

    Posted by Tony Abbott | March 11, 2013, 9:47
  27. Burd – You know that those killed in Iraq were mostly civilians including women, children and babies.

    I note that the US government budget cuts will effect financial aid to Israel seeing a large reduction. This aid is then spent in the USA to buy arms to kill women and babies in Palestine.

    What has you mate Danby done about the pedophile Rabbi form his electorate who was whisked out of Australia by Mossad within 24 hours. I bet he does not meet the same fate as Prisoner X because child abuse is ingrained in Hebrew (and Irish) culture started in old testament time but the Israelite

    Posted by Adrian Jackson | March 11, 2013, 10:16
  28. Just watch ABC TV Four Corners on the NSW ALP. What a low life bunch of scum bags

    Posted by Adrian Jackson | March 11, 2013, 21:17
  29. Actually I supported the liberation of Kuwait as it was invaded but I did not support the invasion of Iraq. Palestine is also supported as it was invaded by people from Great Britain and France after WW1 (Sykes-Picot Agreement) and after WW2 but Zionist from eastern Europe. After WW1 the Ottoman Empire should have been left in place.

    Posted by Adrian Jackson | March 17, 2013, 12:13
  30. The quicker he goes down the better

    Posted by Argus Tuft | March 18, 2013, 11:06
  31. Does anyone else find the concept of ex-politicians becoming lobbyists highly disturbing?

    Posted by iheartjinglee | March 20, 2013, 0:01


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