There’s been a lot of analysis today about John Howard’s announcement that he would hold a referendum on whether or not to add a preamble to the Constitution recognising Aboriginal people as the traditional owners of Australia, but I haven’t seen anyone else mention what this means to Peter Costello’s leadership ambitions.
It’s no secret that Howard and Costello aren’t the best of friends, or that Costello feels that he’s been shafted out of the top job. This seemed to have been resolved when Howard told Red Kerry that he would step down some time into his next term. If you look carefully at what Howard said on that night though, this new announcement seems to be another way to keep Costello out of the lodge.
“…..there are a lot of things I want to do, and I would want to approach those things with enormous energy. But I would expect well into my term, and after those things have been implemented and battered down, I would probably, certainly form the view well into my term, that it makes sense for me to retire.”
Bear in mind that Howard is a master of weasel words and take a look at what he’s really saying “Once I’ve finished everything that I want to I will think about retiring”. Howard hasn’t actually committed to retiring and he certainly won’t be going before he has “implemented and battered down” every idea that pops into his head.
Today’s announcement of a referendum in eighteen months time is no doubt the election stunt that everyone believes it to be, but it is also another slap in the face for the member for Higgins