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Costello comes out and he isn't coy -

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Costello comes out and he isn't coy

The World Today - Wednesday, 10 September , 2008 12:18:00

Reporter: Alexandra Kirk

ELEANOR HALL: He's not even in the country, but he's still managing to stir up more leadership
problems for the Federal Opposition.

In leaked details from his book, the former treasurer Peter Costello suggests that he was misled
several times over a leadership handover.

And he is not coy about pointing out the shortfalls of the Coalition in government, with the debate
on the republic, the question of reconciliation, and the government's response to rise of Pauline
Hanson all coming in for criticism.

But the big unanswered question remains, will Mr Costello stay on and take the leadership?

In Canberra, Alexandra Kirk reports.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: The headline says it all "Costello's swipe - Ex-treasurer's book blasts Howard".

The paid for excerpts are yet to appear, they're scheduled for the weekend Fairfax papers. But News
Limited has provided a sneak preview with a leak of some memoir highlights.

First, that Peter Costello maintains he was given a wink and a nod five or six times by either John
Howard or those close to him, about a succession plan.

Mr Howard has steadfastly maintained there was no deal.

Memoir co-author, Mr Costello's father in law, Peter Coleman explained to Ellen Fanning on ABC
radio in Sydney this morning, why the former treasurer never attempted to challenge John Howard.

PETER COLEMAN: You know, there's a very thick streak of loyalism in Peter Costello, he doesn't
approve of or doesn't take to disloyalty and the idea of splitting the party and dividing the
government ranks was something that he wouldn't contemplate.

ELLEN FANNING: Do you think he'll step up and take on the role of Opposition leader?

PETER COLEMAN: (Laughs), look, you'll have to read the book!

ELLEN FANNING: And has he got any ambition left?

PETER COLEMAN: Oh he's got plenty of ambition left, yes. But don't press me (laughs) beyond that

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Mr Costello also takes a swipe at his former leader's legacy, arguing the coalition
government mishandled three big issues, reconciliation, the republic and the rise of Pauline
Hanson. All were high profile issues John Howard took control of.

And he claims he might have won the last election because he could have countered Kevin Rudd's
youthful image.

PETER COLEMAN: Well I mean, that is an argument that has been put by Costello supporters, and I
think it has merit and it is canvassed in the book.

ELLEN FANNING: And is it something that Mr Costello believes himself?

PETER COLEMAN: Well I'd be surprised if he didn't. That's the sort of thing people can tend to

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But there's still nothing from Mr Costello on whether he's staying. Opposition
leader Brendan Nelson reckons the former treasurer has earned the right to do what he thinks is

BRENDAN NELSON: In one sense it's something that, I could say I prefer to be without but in another
I think as I say, that Peter has earned the right to do what he thinks is appropriate and he'll
make an announcement about his future in the not too distant future.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: Dr Nelson's had a chat to his backbencher, and it's understood he knows what he
plans to do, but is leaving the announcement to Peter Costello.

The constant leadership speculation is starting to wear a bit thin with the Opposition leader.
Yesterday frontbencher Tony Abbott, who has not hidden his ambition, said the Coalition was
dismayed by constant bad polling. And then there's Mr Costello's refusal to state his intention.

BRENDAN NELSON: We've come through the first eight or nine months of this, in opposition, and we're
about to move into a different phase, and I think we're now approaching the period where it will be
even more essential for a lot of my colleagues to be more disciplined and think more about
Australia's future, the interests of our party rather than themselves.

ALEXANDRA KIRK: But the Costello juggernaut will continue to steal the limelight for a little while
longer, his memoir is the first insider's account to hit the bookshops and publisher Louise Adler
is singing her author's praises.

LOUISE ADLER: His connect with the general public is really extraordinary, and I think there are so
many aspects to this man, there's the rapier wit, the kind of savagery of the parliamentary
performance, the power of the parliamentary performance I should say.

Then there's the connect with ordinary people, then there's the kind of interesting conundrum which
is he seems to be a fiscal conservative but a social progressive, you know, he was committed to
reconciliation, he does believe in a republic, so I think there's a kind of complex and modern man
here that I think a wide range of readers are going to be interested in.

ELEANOR HALL: That's Louise Adler from Melbourne University Press ending that report from Alexandra