The Art of the Australian Insult

Snarky schoolboy
April 1, 2009, 10:43 pm
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“If Mr Costello were to generate a few ideas of his own on the nation’s future, instead of snarking at those who do, he might sound less like an envious schoolboy furious about being dropped from the debating team.”

Jen Woodcombe of St Clair responds to Peter Costello’s criticism of the 2020 sumit.

Contemplating the navel
March 17, 2009, 10:47 pm
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“At least looking at Pauline Hanson’s navel is more interesting than reading about Peter Costello contemplating his.”

Robbie Roach, Randwick, NSW, letter to The Australian

March 13, 2009, 10:08 am
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“Costellonomy, like bird watching, is a discipline best suited to the very patient.”

Annabel Crabb reflects on the fascination of the media with Peter Costello. Labor politicians are fascinated by him too. “I’ve known him for a very long time – longer than you characters have known him. And I can’t work him out. Does he have a cunning plan?” Finance Minister Lindsay Tanner said to the Opposition.

“Every minute the cameras spend on Peter Costello doing nothing is a minute they don’t spend on Malcolm Turnbull doing something,” observes Crabb. “This is Turnbull’s central difficulty.”

Lazy, unelectable, disloyal…I could go on
February 23, 2009, 7:11 am
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“It was just another example of your disloyalty to the party and of your willingness to destabilise in pursuit of your personal, unattainable ambition.”

Moreover, all the polling that I have ever seen or heard of – Liberal or Labor – has had you as unelectable. This should be enough to convince you but, if not, then you should have an honest look at yourself. You are bone lazy…
I also doubt you have the skills, experience or self-confidence to have accepted the obvious job after losing the last election, namely shadow treasurer. You’d be lost without Treasury. You may have delivered 11 budgets but ask yourself honestly how many of them were actually yours, rather than Treasury’s.”

You should also recognise that your indulgent “memoirs”, released recently, did not provide the platform from which you had obviously hoped to be drafted. They were received with a yawn. They were being sold at a discount in my local bookstore in just a few days.”

Former leader of the Liberal Party, John Hewson, launches an extraordinarily vicious attack on the man once widely expected to replace John Howard at the helm, Peter Costello. In response, Janet Albrechtsen of The Australian hit out at Hewson by parodying him:

“John. Enough is enough. If your few remaining mates won’t tell you, I will. You’ve had a fair go and you fluffed it, remember. Having gone down in Liberal Party history as a failed political leader, you lack a certain gravitas, not to mention credibility, to now tell the party how to get its house in order so it can win the next election. But, John, just between us girls, we know that helping the Liberal Party was not your real intent was it?”

Asserting a leadership role
October 16, 2008, 2:03 am
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“Peter Costello writes “Australia must assert a leadership role now or it will be left out” (“We must not sow the seeds of the next crisis”, October 15). He would know all about asserting a leadership role or being left out, wouldn’t he?”

John Mahony Paddington, letter to the Sydney Morning Herald.

It’s not the smirk, it’s the sense of entitlement
September 21, 2008, 11:52 pm
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“Thank heavens the man is about to exit the political stage because, quite frankly, I’m not sure I could take another minute of him.”

Leslie Cannold on Peter Costello. She explains, “It’s not the smirk. It’s the sense of entitlement.” She concludes:

“Costello isn’t unemployed but if there was any justice in the world, he would be. Out on his ass in a pile of snow streaked yellow with dog pee. I’ve worked in a number of places in my time, but none where I had the option to throw aside the job description so I could use the office space to focus on things I found more lucrative and interesting.”

An exercise in egomania
September 15, 2008, 3:09 am
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Treasurer Wayne Swan declares that Peter Costello’s memoirs “are an exercise in egomania if ever I’ve seen one” and argues,

“Apart from the well-documented pea-hearted involving the leadership, he was a policy lamb. He was so timid that, despite saying he would strike out in areas of his own, he never did…

“He launched a couple of petulant but futile attempts to get Howard to take his back and ball and go home.”

Not guts, only a gutful
September 15, 2008, 2:54 am
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“We’ve had a gutful of him. What on Earth is he doing?”


Senior Liberal MP quoted by the Sun-Herald. Another is quoted as saying, “I wouldn’t be surprised if he got a visit from a few people telling him to pull his head in. He’s killing us.”


Paul Daley has a similar view:


“For months now the Liberals have been hostage to one man’s vanity as they confront the torturous mundane reality that is opposition. They will only become an effective opposition and a credible alternative government when they adequately deal with the past.”


Kerry-Anne Walsh dismisses Costello’s stoking of the flames of leadership speculation as an “appalling marketing ploy to flog his overpriced memoirs which, at $55, are probably torpedoing straight to the remainder bins.”

“No guts, no glory. So no glory to Peter. What a crying shame Costello’s legacy will be as a bloke who teased his party and the public  after the 2007 election with the mirage of him as a possiblefuture leader, when the suspicious signposts point to it being all about selling books. A disgraceful finale indeed.”

 Then there is this missive from SMH reader Tony Nicod of Mona Vale, which appeared on Monday September 15:

“I have numerous books about men who have displayed courage and leadership, combined with human frailties. Even if given a free copy of Costello’s book, why would I bother to read about a whingeing, spineless, gutless wimp? In the words of Wyatt Earp, Peter, “you talk too much for a fighting man”.

The Costello kerfuffle
September 12, 2008, 12:24 am
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Readers of The Australian offer their views on Peter Costello’s declaration, on the eve of launching his memoirs,  that he will not be challenging for the leadership of the Liberals:

THE present kerfuffle about Peter Costello and that book exposes the rank hypocrisy of this fervent advocate of Work Choices. Pursuing his punitive industrial relations agenda, Costello raged against workers’ “rorts” which were supposedly detrimental to the operation of their employers’ businesses.

Hanging around and collecting a parliamentary salary while you are writing a book, and treating your continued presence or departure from your job as something that is no business of the Australian public, who are, after all, your employers, is the ultimate rort and an insult to all those hard-working Australians Costello so happily maligned when he was in government.

Mira Toglin
Penrith South, NSW

PETER Costello has indicated he will leave parliament when he is good and ready. Since he clearly represents his constituents on a part-time basis, perhaps his parliamentary salary could be reduced to reflect the proportion of his energies devoted to serving them.

Jen Woodcombe
St Clair, NSW

WE might sometimes doubt the efficacy of Thailand’s democracy, but the decision of the Constitutional Court to throw the country’s prime minister out of office because he accepted payment for private work while being in public office, is perhaps an example that we could well learn from.

Langford B. White
Rose Park, SA

An arrogant shirker
September 10, 2008, 3:45 am
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“He was a shirker when we needed a nation-builder. The Australian economy, unfortunately for all of us, was left exposed by his personal neglect of skills and infrastructure, in particular.”

Federal Treasurer Wayne Swan hits back at his predecessor Peter Costello’s criticism of the Labor government’s handling of the economy.