Former-NSW Treasurer Michael Costa says prime minister Kevin Rudd should stop portraying himself as a dragon-slayer in the global credit squeeze and stick to funding the health system properly.

In his new column for The Australian newspaper, the feisty former cabinet member attacked Rudd’s attempts at Council of Australian Government meetings to connect national reform plans to the global economic crisis as “excruciating”.

“Anybody with a rudimentary understanding of economics would have quickly concluded, as I did, that the prime minister didn’t have a good understanding of these issues,” he said.

“He ought to try to stop the acclaim game; trying to create the perception that he is providing solutions for things substantially outside his control.”

Costa said the prime minister should concentrate more on crucial policy areas closer to home.

“There are a lot of things, admittedly not as sexy as solving a global financial crisis, that he could legitimately work to receive acclaim for, such as solving federal-state financial agreements, particularly in the critical area of health,” he said.

Of his new job as a columnist, Costa said he believed he had “a useful role to play, continuing what I did in politics, which is trying to be honest with the public about the limitations of our political system.”