Friday, December 5, 2008

Peter Costello Time

I have a little confession to make.

I find myself a bit attracted to Peter Costello. I don't know why.

Well, I got that embarrassment out of the way.

Maybe learning more about him will make me lose the attraction. Or maybe I'll end up with a wild insatiable crush. Who knows?

Costello is a member of the Liberal party. I know he wanted John Howard's job and didn't get it. He blames Janette Howard and mentions this in his book. This is about all I know....so far.

Lord Wiki says Costello was the longest serving treasurer in Australia's history. He had that job from 1996-2007. He was also the Deputy Leader. I'm guessing that's like Vice-President. Maybe?

His birthday is the 14th of August, and he was born in 1957.

Birthday website time!

He's a Leo! My favorite person in the world is a Leo. I think Leo's are awesome.

His numerology number is 8. That makes sense because 8 is about money. It's probably a perfect number for a treasurer.

8's are not compatible with my 7, so I guess we're just not meant to be together. Boo hoo.

In Chinese Astrology, he's a rooster. I wonder if that means he likes to wake up early.

His Native American sign is the salmon. Maybe that can mean he swims up stream--you know, in the symbolic sense.

Lord Wiki says Costello was born in Melbourne. He's a middle child. I'm a middle child too! But my older sibling is NOT a prominent Baptist minister.

Lord Wiki says that Costello started out as a solicitor in a law firm and later became a barrister. I have always assumed a barrister is the same thing as a lawyer. But now I'm thinking maybe it's not. I should go look that up.

Okay. I looked at Lord Wiki's entry and a dictionary website. It seems a barrister is a TYPE of lawyer. I think maybe one that works in a higher court?

Anyway, Costello was doing the lawyer stuff in the 1980's.

In 1985, he represented a candy company called Dollar Sweets. I'm reading about it now from Lord Wiki. It kind of connects to my post, from the other day, about strikes and all that. The end result of the case was that for the first time a trade union was forced to pay damages to an employer. This website gives Costello's version of the story. The details go a bit over my head, so if you're interested....you can read it for yourself. Basically (if I'm reading it right) there was a disagreement between the employer and the employees that belonged to a union. The employees picketed and were a bit overzealous in their picketing. There were assaults, bomb threats, vandalism, etc. In the end, the union was forced to pay $175,000.

Winning the case boosted Costello's career a bit.

Lord Wiki seems to be saying that Costello wasn't always politically conservative. He says as a student, Costello was a socially radical Christian. He was a member of the Social Democratic student group which had some sort of connection to the Labor party. By the time he graduated, Costello was more conservative but still leaned a bit to the left.

Costello was one of the founding members of the HR Nicholls Society. According to Lord Wiki, this group isn't popular with Australia's left. I'm looking their official website now.

They list their aims as being:

  • To promote discussion about the operation of industrial relations in Australia including the system of determining wages and other conditions of employment.
  • To promote the rule of law with respect to employers and employee organizations alike.
  • To promote reform of the current wage-fixing system.
  • To support the necessity for labour relations to be conducted in such a way as to promote economic development in Australia.

More stuff that goes slightly over my head. Maybe I should stop researching political stuff. I usually end up feeling stupid.

It doesn't sound like a horrible group, but I'm probably talking out of my butt here.

Lord Wiki says Costello entered the House of Representatives in 1990. He was 32.

Oh good. Lord Wiki mentions the GST. They keep talking about it in The Howard Years and I had no idea what it was. I guess I could have paused the video and looked it up. Anyway, it's the good and services tax. I'm sure most of you Australians already knew that. Apparently, it's very controversial.

Well, I think my attraction to Costello is over. He DOES support Australia becoming a Republic. I'm cool with that. But he's not very supportive of gay marriage, and in a speech he used the term mushy misguided multiculturalism. I'm not very cool with that.

I wouldn't mind reading his memoirs. I'm not sure he's my type of person, but I definitely think he's an interesting person. Besides promoting his book, Costello is also now currently working on the advisory board of the World Bank. Lord Wiki says he does anti-corruption stuff.

The World Bank works against poverty, but Lord Wiki says there's some controversy surrounding the organization. This website explains some of the criticism. Will Costello make things better--less controversial for the World Bank. Or will he make things worse?

Maybe he'll have no real impact.

The Parliament of Australia website has Costello's first speech Parliament. That's kind of cute. I'm going to read it and see if he says anything I like....or anything I dislike.

He mentions his wife and parents; thanks them. That's sweet.

Here's an excerpt from his speech: We should take note of the fact that in many countries around the world at this moment people are struggling to set up representative Houses as a check on executive power and we should draw inspiration from them not to let our own traditions decay. Australia has been blessed with fine parliamentary institutions and we are their guardians. If we, the guardians of this great parliamentary institution do not properly discharge our duties we betray our past, we compromise our future and we let down those who have placed their trust in us. In the contest between the Executive and the Parliament, I am for the Parliament.

I sort of like that. It does smell a little bit like the American patriotism I dislike--the idea that America is the best country in the world and ALL other countries look up to us. But Costello doesn't sound as ethnocentric as some Americans. His statement is more tolerable to me--almost inspiring.

Here's another excerpt:

When we talk of creating a fairer and more compassionate society, what do we mean? Over decades arguments have raged over which system of government best creates such a society. Some have argued that a society where government controls industry and controls and directs the production and distribution of goods is a society that is inherently more compassionate and fair. Others have argued the converse. In this century the argument has raged between those who believe that by enhancing government power it, the government, can deliver fairness and compassion to its citizens and others who have maintained that in the interests of fairness the power of government itself must be curtailed and the compassionate resources of our citizens released.

I think that is a good summary of an important difference between the left and right.

ABC
has a transcript of an interview with Costello from 2005. He basically has a love-it-or-leave it philosophy. I do agree with him in some ways. Why immigrate to a country if you don't respect their laws or ways of life? On the other hand, sometimes people are forced to immigrate because they have no where else to go. Although maybe they can try harder to find a country that fits their ideals. I don't know.

And then you have the problem of people taking the love-it-or-leave-it thing too far. How much do you have to love your country before you're told it's okay for you to stay? Am I a bad American if I don't have an American Flag in my front yard? Am I a bad American because I say I love Australia? Am I a bad American because I'm on the left and dislike George W. Bush?

Really. Where do you draw the line?

I'm really not sure I support the idea of Sharia law, but is someone not Australian enough if they where a Hijab?

I love America, but I don't love America in the same way as many other Americans love it. I also don't love America as much as some other Americans love it. Does that mean I should leave it? Sadly, some people would say yes.

When some people say love-it-or-leave-it, what they really mean is be exactly like me, or get out.

Okay. But I do agree that if you're completely against a country, it's best to go live elsewhere. If you're just slightly against your country, you can try to make some changes.

I guess the problem with telling someone that they need to accept a country's values if they want to live there is who decides exactly what the values are?

For some, Australia's values might be stuff like a fair go and mateship. I'm totally good with that. But for some other Australians, values might be about having the "right" skin color, the "right" religion and the "right" clothes.

No country is ever going to come up with total consensuses about what their values are, so how do you decide who is accepting the values and who is not accepting them? It's all very complicated.