Australia’s new treasurer and deputy Liberals leader Josh Frydenberg says he will turn to the country’s longest-serving and “greatest” Treasurer Peter Costello for advice as he begins in the role.
The day after the bloodletting in Canberra which saw Scott Morrison succeed Malcolm Turnbull, Mr Frydenberg caught up with his Howard-era counterpart for a coffee in Melbourne’s east.
The freshly-minted Treasurer said he’d be “going somewhere” if he could be half as funny as Mr Costello in parliament, and vowed to seek advice from the man who delivered ten budget surpluses in his time.
“It’s great to be here in Kooyong with my good friend Peter Costello, Australia’s greatest Treasurer ,” Mr Frydenberg told reporters.
I’ll be turning to Peter for advice as I begin my role as treasurer in the Morrison government.
“I’m very pleased that as deputy leader and as Treasurer I follow in his very big footsteps.”
Mr Costello congratulated Mr Frydenberg on his promotion to deputy Liberal leader and Treasurer, saying he was a “fantastic” appointment.
“I’m very, very pleased to see you as treasurer and I think it’s a great opportunity for you and for the country,” Mr Costello said.
Watch the pair’s meeting
One person not impressed was shadow Treasurer Chris Bowen, who told reporters in Sydney on Saturday there needed to be a policy reset from the government in the form of a federal election.
“This is just shuffling deckchairs after a week of melodrama, chaos and dysfunction. The Australian people look at this government and say a mini-budget won’t fix it, an election will,” Mr Bowen said.
The past and present treasurers had coffee in a corner of the busy Hawthorn cafe and on a chair beside them sat a newspaper with “SCOMO A GO-GO” splashed across the front page.
Mr Costello, who served as treasurer for more than a decade under John Howard’s Liberal government, was asked his thoughts on the spill, which has been slammed by political opponents.
“It’s just a new era,” Mr Costello said outside the cafe.
“This is how things happen. The old gives way to the new.”
As he left the cafe, Mr Frydenberg was asked if Tony Abbott would make a good cabinet minister, but he said he would leave that up to Mr Morrison.
Nationals negotiate over new cabinet posts
Mr Morrison is expected to spend the weekend looking at which fresh talent to promote and experienced hands to keep on his frontbench.
Nationals leader Michael McCormack – whose party is entitled to five cabinet posts – will discuss the line-up ahead of an expected swearing-in early next week.
Mr Dutton, who resigned as home affairs minister this week, is expected top be offered a return to the ministry as will Foreign Minister Julie Bishop, although the former deputy leader may go to the backbench and retire at the next election.
Meanwhile, US President Donald Trump tweeted his congratulations to the new leadership team on Saturday morning (Australian time).
Congratulations to new Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison. There are no greater friends than the United States and Australia!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 25, 2018
Mr Trump had earlier phoned to congratulate new PM.
A spokesperson Mr Morrison said both leaders used Saturday’s call to reaffirm the strong bond between the US and Australia, and the new Prime Minister invited the president to visit.
“Both underlined the strength and depth of our alliance and the unbreakable friendship between Australia and the United States,” the spokesperson said.
“Both leaders agreed to stay in contact and to meet at an early opportunity.”