To this observer, the
Howard/Costello relationship seems to be stuck pretty much where it’s
been for two years, neatly summarised in John Hewson’s comment that “you will carry John out in a box.” But on the betting market, there’s been movement.

odds on who will be Liberal leader at the next election now have
Costello favourite for the first time at 10-9 on, with Howard at even
money. They are followed by Nelson 7-1, Abbott 20-1, Turnbull firming
at 33-1 and Downer apparently out of contention at 100-1. That
represents a huge turnaround in just a couple of months. On 1 July,
according to the figures collected by Bryan Palmer, Howard was 6-4 on and Costello 5-2 against. It looks as if there’s some money out there on the Treasurer.

I’ve been wrong on this before; I thought Howard would retire in 2003.
But given that he chose to stay then, I can’t see why he would go now:
his margin is bigger, and he clearly thinks (with justice) that he’s
got Beazley’s measure. So I think even money is pretty generous. But
we’ll see if the betting market really can do better than the

Speaking of Centrebet, there’s also been movement
in New Zealand, where odds on the opposition National Party have
shortened but Labour remain narrow favourites (3-4 as against 19-20).
One poll at the weekend showed the Nationals with an 8% lead, but other evidence is that they’re neck and neck.