Costello sparks new Liberal leadership speculation

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Former Australian Treasurer Peter Costello has again created media speculation of a Liberal leadership challenge with reports claiming he is weighing up challenging for the leadership of the Liberal party against a position outside of politics with the Macquarie Bank.

Costello is reported to have told friends that opposition leader Dr Brendon Nelson will not last out the year as Liberal leader, and that he believes Prime Minister Kevin Rudd can be beaten at the next election. The Syney Morning Herald article notes that, at 50, even if Costello spends three more years in politics, only to lose the next election, he will still have time for a meaningful career in the private sector.

Peter Costello's spokesman dismissed both possibilities as "wild speculation," but refused to explicitly rule out either.

Assistant Treasurer Chris Bowen, member of the governing Labor party, challenged Costello to clear up the speculation, saying, "If Mr Costello wants to kill off the rumours of instability in the Liberal Party he needs to come out and rule out a challenge." Bowen also alleges, "[Costello] created 11 years of destabilisation in the former government and appears he's up to it again in the new Opposition."

A spokesman for the opposition leader said Bowen's comments were not worth dignifying with a response.