Everyone's favourite "I nearly" man, Peter Costello, has written in today's SMH an argument that Defence isn't a graveyard portfolio.
He tries to argue that the fact that four Howard Ministers retired from the portfolio shouldn't be misinterpretted as the portfolio is a graveyard. He ven argues that Fitzgibbon wasn't brought down by the portfolio, just his stupidity.
Well, yes and no. The four retiring Ministers were acutely aware that the portfolio had done nothing to ehance their careers. The Fitzgibbon issues over the Liu's and other matters had added poignancy due to the portfolio. Undeclared trips to China are an oversight, but if your portfolio is defence it is interpreted as far more.
But if Peter really wanted to make the point he might have volunteered after he'd had enough budgets (I think he started saying that after eight) to round himself out for the top job by taking a portfolio with an international dimension. Foreign Affairs is a graveyard for potential leaders - you are out of the country too often - but Defence would have been great.
It is not too late - he could offer his services to the leader as shadow defence Minister once he stops the play-acting and advises on 30 June that he does intend to stick around. But I don't see him doing it. Heck, a man who can't even risk writing his memoirs himself (rather than use his father-in-law) wouldn't take that risk.