Where better to retire to than a weekender at Hawk’s Nest? How about the job of President of the World Bank? That’s the gist of a particularly intriguing rumour surrounding John Howard’s future directions.

Incumbent
James Wolfensohn (an expatriate Australian) told the Bank’s board in
January he wouldn’t continue in the top job after his current term
expires on 31 May. The job is effectively the gift of the United States
government, as a glance at the selection process shows. Who better to give it to than a reliable ally with a global profile – and a former finance minister to boot?

So it’s just a rumour, but surely it stacks up better than claims from earlier this week that Bono has his eye on the gig. CNN reports
that other candidates include former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina,
one time US Environmental Protection Agency head and New Jersey
governor Christine Todd Whitman and former Mexican President Ernesto
Zedillo. US Deputy Secretary of Defence Paul Wolfowitz recently ruled
himself out.

Howard would definitely be less controversial than the neocon Wolfowitz
– particularly with Iraq still a hot issue for the Bank. What a perfect
– albeit sudden – ending to his political career this would be.
Wolfensohn’s term, after all, ends just three weeks after the Budget is
handed down on 10 May. The story may explain the prime minister’s
charitable approach to the idea of Gareth Evans becoming UN High
Commissioner for Refugees, and Peter Costello’s sudden assertiveness
towards the state over basic dollars and cents tax issues.

And
as someone so fond of the phrase “dinkum Australian”, Howard would
surely appreciate a real Aussie taking over from some cosmopolitan
expat.