Peter Costello, the longest serving former federal Treasurer, is retiring from politics. He will be best remembered for his enormous and unique contributions to managing very successfully the Australian economy and federal budgets during his 12 years as Treasurer.
During their rein, the Howard / Costello government eliminated the federal government's debt of nearly $100 billion they had inherited when they came to power in 1996, and accumulated net assets by the end of the Howard and Costello era.
While there was some luck involved, no one should underestimate Costello’s management of the economy and the budget.
Costello will also be remembered for his lost / foregone opportunities of becoming Prime Minster and the coalition leadership. Judged from his attitude towards a number of issues, such as climate change policies, national reconciliation, republic, Costello seemed to be a fairly moderate conservative and progressive liberal, with sharp intellectuals, though questionable killing political instinct and urge.
The most enduring contributions of the Howard / Costello government to the Australian economy have been the introduction of GST in 2000 that enabled the reduction in personal tax rates and the abolition of a number of State inefficient taxes.
The coalition government also introduced far reaching industrial relations reforms, but they became one of the factors that contributed to the coalition’s election loss in 2007 and the Rudd / Gillard Labour government is dismantling those reforms that are deemed unfair by Labour.
It is nice and pleasing to see that both Rudd and Swan have praised Costello's contributions. When a political figure like Costello is retiring from politics, it is time to put partisan politics aside and give due credit to every politician's contribution to Australian national affairs and welfare. By doing this, they are also doing credit to themselves. I command the Prime Minister and the Treasurer for their acts.
Let’s hope Costello will continue to use his enormous talents and make contributions to whatever he does in his pursuit of a private life and career.