Has the powerful Packer family decided that it’s nearly time for John Howard to go and that Peter Costello is the anointed one?

How else can you interpret James Packer’s decision to go public in Pam Williams’s feature in yesterday’s Financial Review, revealing that he dines two or three times a year with the federal treasurer.

Dad Kerry’s support for John Howard has been known for years and
is considered a given in the Sydney business community. But for his son
to emerge on the record with fulsome praise for Cossie is unusual.

So
what did James Packer say? “I expect if (Costello) gets the chance he
will make a terrific prime minister.” Sounds like Dad and his Howard
endorsement several years ago.

The publication of James’s
comments come a day after PBL’s most credible journalist gave Howard a
bashing and Costello a big wrap. Oakes’s Bulletin column this
week predicted Costello will become leader – “the only question is
whether Howard tries to resist, making it an untidy and unhappy
process”.

The combination of James Packer’s comments to the AFR
and Oakes’s column will signal to the rest of Australian business that
the Packers are comfortable with a change of prime ministership, so
long as it’s to Costello.

Peter Fray

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