Former prime minister John Howard's joined senior Liberals in attacking the federal government's rejection of his colleague Peter Costello for the job as chair of the nation's sovereign wealth fund.
Labor appointed David Gonski to the Future Fund position, despite his advice that the board of guardians preferred Mr Costello, the former treasurer who set up the $90b vehicle to manage public servant pension liabilities.
Mr Howard told reporters in Brisbane on Thursday Mr Costello had been held back because he was a Liberal party member.
"He would have made an excellent chairman of the future fund," Mr Howard said.
"Clearly his political background would have worked against him, there is no doubt about that."
Mr Howard said he was not attacking Mr Gonski as an individual.
"He's got a lot of ability but I am certainly attacking the whole shambolic selection process," Mr Howard said.
"Everyone knew a year ago that David Murray was standing down and they managed to mess something as simple as that."
Mr Howard said Mr Costello was highly qualified.
"Peter Costello was the best treasurer that this country has ever had," he said.
But Prime Minister Julia Gillard maintains Mr Gonski is the best person for the job, given his significant track record as a chairman of major Australian companies, like the Australian Securities Exchange and fund manager Investec.