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The Sunday Age - 'Time to ponder a new career, Mr Costello?' - Interview with our MD

Author: Jason Koutsoukis
Date: 26/08/2007
Words: 647
Source: SAGĀ  Section: News
Page: 8

The Lodge looks less likely, but there's plenty going in the private sector, writes Jason Koutsoukis.

THEY say it's never too late for a change of career, which is a good thing for Peter Costello.

With the Coalition looking down the barrel of a devastating defeat that would put it on the opposition benches for at least six and probably nine years, the Treasurer may be better off passing on the chance to become leader of her majesty's opposition and move straight into the private sector.

Some are even speculating that he might be interested in a senior role at an organisation such as the Bank of England or the European Development Bank should he decide that nearly 20 years in federal politics is enough.

With 11 years behind him as one of the country's most successful treasurers, and a gold Rolodex chock-a-block with finance industry contacts from all over the world, executive recruitment experts say Mr Costello's options would not be limited to Australia.

According to Tony Beddison, chairman of the Beddison group, which specialises in executive recruitment, Mr Costello could expect a huge range of job offers.

"His is a name with global recognition and his career options would be as broad as anyone could possibly imagine in financial services and other top 500 corporations," Mr Beddison said.

"He also has other alternatives in roles which would require statesmanship, leadership or strategy, so all up I would say he has among the highest credentials of anyone in Australia and internationally. I would think a chairman's role would be the most likely."

With a salary package that included performance bonuses and a mixture of shares and options, Mr Beddison said, Mr Costello could expect to earn an eight-figure salary.

Not bad for a man who is earning a comparatively meagre $220,000 as Treasurer, a sum far below that of even his own department head, Ken Henry.

With politicians tending to play more of a guiding role in their jobs as ministers as opposed to executive management, the transition from politics to business is often not as easy as many think.

Among the most successful are former Victorian treasurer Alan Stockdale, who has held a range of senior executive management positions since leaving Victorian politics, and former Howard Government minister Warwick Smith, who is a senior executive at ANZ.

Most ex-politicians, though, find themselves working in advisory roles, using their knowledge of the way government works and contacts in the bureaucracy to help their corporate clients.

Which is what Morgan Consulting managing director Andrew Aston sees as being among a range of roles that could suit Mr Costello.

"His experience in government sees him best suited to working in an advisory capacity with companies looking to do business in the public sector," Mr Aston said.

"I think he will be invited on to a number of corporate boards. He will be attractive to top 200 companies in either transport, infrastructure or the utilities industry.

"Because of his legal qualifications he could easily secure a position as a partner in a major law firm. These employers will want him primarily because of his business connections and his understanding of how the public sector works."

Mr Aston agreed that Mr Costello would be unlikely to be appointed as a corporate CEO or to a senior operational role.

All of which may end up being just idle speculation because the man himself is adamant that his future for the next three years at least will be to serve the people as member for Higgins.

THE TREASURER CHEST

WHAT IS PETER COSTELLO WORTH?

  • As Treasurer: $225,000
  • As Leader of the Opposition: $222,000
  • As deputy governor of the Reserve Bank of England: #234,000 ($A570,000).
  • Australian director for the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (London): $200,000 (tax free).
  • Partner at top-tier law or accounting firm: $1 million
  • Average chief executive salary package for Australia's top 50 companies: $2.1 million.
  • Executive chairman Macquarie Bank: $19 million

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