14 February 2004

Craven call anything but cool

An astute Liberal Party observer of the Prime Minister for years said yesterday: 'There is an old saying in politics: beware of an old man in a hurry. Howard is an old man desperate to win the next election because he can now see he should have gone last year, and if he now loses he'll just be lumped in with everyone else except, of course, Menzies, his hero.

'So jettisoning friends and colleagues and policies is what he's going to do if he thinks he must to win. Yet the reality is that what happened this week is the end of Howard politically.

'Speak to Queensland's Ron Boswell. He was close to resigning after Thursday's meeting. He can't believe that Howard, who has built a 30-year career on supposed politically integrity, could be so breathtakingly naive not to see the effect on the public mind of what he's done. I mean, it's not his decision on super so much. It's the fact that in eight years of government Beazley and Crean never had a win on anything, ever, and both were treated by Howard with complete contempt the entire time.

'Now, in just two months, Latham has the Government turned entirely on its head. In only six parliamentary sitting days he's caused Howard to make the most craven backdown of his political career. I mean, Howard has been defending the parliamentary super scheme for 30 years. Every prime minster since Chifley [who introduced MPs' superannuation in 1948, even if it was nothing like the pot of gold the scheme would become over the years] has managed to defend it - except, now, Howard.

'And if Howard has gone to water like this in February, how will he ever get through an election still eight or nine months away?'

For weeks there have been rumours of a leadership challenge by Abbot and Costello. The Backflip of Steel probably means that challenge will happen sooner, much sooner, rather than later.

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