Peter Reith to toss remaining moderate Liberals overboard

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The Liberals will go so far to the Right with an Abbott and Reith partnership Australia will be the place to leave, says Barry Everingham.

Peter Reith, John Howard and Peter Costello

Moderate Liberals will be trembling with fear at the thought of Peter Reith grabbing the party presidency from the moderate and well liked Alan Stockdale.

Stockdale has done a great job since he became president and has managed to escape the odour of being so close to former premier Jeff Kennett, who has never been forgiven by Victorian liberals for his arrogant behaviour which allowed the ALP to snatch victory.

Putting it mildly, Peter Reith is a monster — a right wing ideologue who would see workers' rights diminished by bringing back the hated Workchoices legislation and who would take the party back to the worse excesses of the Howard days.

It was Reith who concocted the lie that some boat people threw their children overboard and who was applauded by Howard for doing so.

(We should never forget this was the same John Howard who said a vote for Barack Obama would make Osama bin Laden a happy man. But to balance that, last week Noam Chomsky said in Sydney that John Howard’s great and good friend George W Bush was a bigger terrorist than Osama bin Laden!)

The Liberal Party, like its political counterpart, the Australian Labor Party, is in a mess. Its current political leader, Tony Abbott, is one of Australia’s most divisive politicians and not only is his party split in two, the electorate is heading in the same direction.

The thought of Peter Reith and Tony Abbott in cahoots is sending chills down the spines of the party faithful; even that rightist political warhorse Nick Minchin is not backing Reith; he served with him in the Howard cabinet and knows what bastardry he’s capable of.

John Howard, who keeps popping up with unsolicited advice for the Liberals, wants Reith at the helm.

Howard owes Reith big-time; when Howard lied that he and Peter Costello had no agreement for the Treasurer to take over the leadership, Reith backed Howard’s flawed claim.

Costello was squeaky clean — he didn’t lie and he wasn’t caught with his fingers in the till.

Reith was — on two occasions.

One of them was when he had to repay almost $3000 for the misuse of air tickets by his wife, Julie.

The other was when it was discovered that their son had misused his father’s Government provided Telecom card, by making 11,000 free calls; Reith was forced to pay the Treasury back almost $48,000.

Reith had obviously given the card to his son, but the minister was not forced to resign by Howard.

But Reith isn’t the only scare on the Liberal’s horizon.

A former disgraced Howard minister, Santo Santoro, is believed to be throwing his hat into the ring for the party’s vice-presidency.

Santoro didn’t declare a shareholding related to his portfolio.

He might have thought himself unlucky to lose his job. Many Howard ministers were lax with money matters, but managed to survive.

Howard’s set a precedent on rorting of the system by living full time in Sydney’s Kirribilli House which, over his years in office, cost taxpayers millions of extra dollars while The Lodged was used only rarely.

Several recalcitrant ministers got away with merely paying back the monies they incorrectly charged.

Howard could hardly get tough with all of them while he and Janette were on their own expensive folly at the hapless taxpayers expense.

So if Reith gets up and, God forbid, Tony does as well it will no doubt be happy days are here again!

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