Australia praises British ally


Summary

Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, is widely expected to take over from Mr Blair after he steps down on June 27th.

Australian Treasurer Peter Costello, whose unofficial position as prime minister-in-waiting has long been compared to that of Mr Brown, sidestepped a reporter’s question about whether he was jealous of Mr Brown’s chance at taking over the top job.

Instead he used the opportunity to praise the British Labour government and take a swipe at Australia’s federal Labor opposition.

“Prime Minister Blair has been a great leader for Britain. I pay tribute to what he’s done, particularly at the international level,” he told reporters.

“I think his strong and courageous stand in relation to terrorism has served the world well.

“One of the things you would have to pay tribute to Tony Blair for was he was the person who got the British Labour Party to give up the socialist objective, something, of course, the Australian Labor Party still hasn’t done.”

Mr Costello has been holding the economic reins for a year longer than Mr Brown.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has been in power for 11 years and is seeking re-election later this year and is reportedly expected to hand over to a new leader — most likely Mr Costello — after about 18 months if his government is reinstalled.

If the Coalition loses the election, Mr Costello will get the less appealing prize of opposition leader, with no guarantee he will be in the box seat by the time the coalition wins government again.

‘Great friend of Australia’

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Mr Blair had been a great friend and partner of Australia, which like Britain enthusiastically signed up as a founding member of US President George W. Bush’s “coalition of the willing” in Iraq.

“Tony Blair lived in Adelaide when he was a small child, and I think Australia has left a lasting impression on him throughout his working life,” he told reporters.

“He has shown great affection for Australia and great enthusiasm for Australia, and from our point of view he has been a very good partner and a very good friend to deal with, and to our country,” he said.

He also used Mr Blair’s retirement to stick the boot into Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd.

“If only we had a Labor leader in this country who had the courage to stare down his own party’s trade union leaders the way Tony Blair did over labour market reform,” he said.


Britain’s Chancellor of the Exchequer, Gordon Brown, is widely expected to take over from Mr Blair after he steps down on June 27th.

Australian Treasurer Peter Costello, whose unofficial position as prime minister-in-waiting has long been compared to that of Mr Brown, sidestepped a reporter’s question about whether he was jealous of Mr Brown’s chance at taking over the top job.

Instead he used the opportunity to praise the British Labour government and take a swipe at Australia’s federal Labor opposition.

“Prime Minister Blair has been a great leader for Britain. I pay tribute to what he’s done, particularly at the international level,” he told reporters.

“I think his strong and courageous stand in relation to terrorism has served the world well.

“One of the things you would have to pay tribute to Tony Blair for was he was the person who got the British Labour Party to give up the socialist objective, something, of course, the Australian Labor Party still hasn’t done.”

Mr Costello has been holding the economic reins for a year longer than Mr Brown.

Australian Prime Minister John Howard has been in power for 11 years and is seeking re-election later this year and is reportedly expected to hand over to a new leader — most likely Mr Costello — after about 18 months if his government is reinstalled.

If the Coalition loses the election, Mr Costello will get the less appealing prize of opposition leader, with no guarantee he will be in the box seat by the time the coalition wins government again.

‘Great friend of Australia’

Australian Foreign Minister Alexander Downer said Mr Blair had been a great friend and partner of Australia, which like Britain enthusiastically signed up as a founding member of US President George W. Bush’s “coalition of the willing” in Iraq.

“Tony Blair lived in Adelaide when he was a small child, and I think Australia has left a lasting impression on him throughout his working life,” he told reporters.

“He has shown great affection for Australia and great enthusiasm for Australia, and from our point of view he has been a very good partner and a very good friend to deal with, and to our country,” he said.

He also used Mr Blair’s retirement to stick the boot into Opposition Leader Kevin Rudd.

“If only we had a Labor leader in this country who had the courage to stare down his own party’s trade union leaders the way Tony Blair did over labour market reform,” he said.