It is fun to watch the Liberal Party trying to tear itself apart. And even funnier to see them all blaming John Howard. But I have a word for them (and the Labor Party). The last Government surrounded itself with "Yes Men", Toadies and sycophants. Nobody was providing the "Frank and Fearless Advice" which was the hallmark of the traditional Public Service.
Everybody was desperate to read the mind of the person above them, and to tell that person what they wanted to hear. And I speak of this pattern right down into the middle and lower ranks of the Public Service. This is the true meaning of the Hans Christian Andersen's Fairy Tale - of the "Emperor's New Clothes" - where all the courtiers were too weak, too beholden to the Emperor, to tell him what was as plain as the nose on his face, (or elsewhere, in that case).
"Children Overboard" is my supreme case in point, but just one of many examples. Right through to the David Hicks Case, the AWB Scandal, and the Dr Haneef case. People who knew the truth were rewarded for hiding the facts. The AWB scandal is possibly the largest ticking bomb, still buried within the Fairyland World of the Dept. of Foreign Affairs. Lets hope someone finds the moral fibre to stand up and tell the truth - at last.
From Day One (today) the Labor Party must ensure that they go back to that old principle of good governance - that Politicians and Public Service all provide "Frank and Fearless Advice". Otherwise, they will be destined to repeat the recent history of the Liberal Party Government.
But let us look at the Liberals for just another moment - for it is such fun.
Michelle Grattan, writing in "The Age" this morning has some wonderful quotes:
- "And, as anger mounted in the party towards John Howard, Peter Costello's father-in-law, Peter Coleman, declared "Howard's egomania" had blocked Mr Costello's "great promise". Mr Coleman, a former Liberal MP who writes a column for the ABC website, said Mr Howard had "a fatal flaw which brought him low and devastated his party. It is his colossal egotism."
And on Tony Abbott's withdrawal from the race for Liberal Party Leadership...
- "Mr Abbott described it as the "last supper at the Lodge for quite some time".
- And Tony Abbott again: "I was a member of John Howard's praetorian guard, you might say. I always regarded myself as the honorary life president of the John Howard fan club."