Brendan Nelson’s brilliant plan for
a national student election on voluntary student unionism is another reminder
that he’s got his eyes on a bigger prize. And after watching Peter Costello
twisting in the wind this past week, Nelson must be feeling pretty

Nelson apparently is going to personally write the
“no” case he wants to put to students in his continuing fight against the evils
of student unions. If it goes ahead, the Nelson national
ballot on voluntary student unionism will be an interesting one.

What’s the question Nelson is likely to put on the ballot
paper? No doubt something politically neutral like: “Students, would you like
more beer money in your pocket, or do you want student unions to
continue wasting your hard-earned compulsory fees?”

On the leadership front, the destabilisation caused by Costello’s
mishandling of the Gerard affair is illustrated by a new round of speculation. Even Tony Abbott’s back in the news a possible leader again today, courtesy of
his mates at the National Civic Council – and after the year he’s had, that’s saying something.

The wildcard remains Malcolm Turnbull. He’s too wet for many, but
how serious he is at the main chance (and why would anyone like him
settle for number two?) will be seen by his rhetoric over the coming
months. Turnbull did himself no harm in media circles on Friday when he
came out in support of their fight against the sedition laws.

Meantime, watch for a gentle swing to the Right from the
ambitious member for Wentworth as he woos those MPs who see him as a little too
liberal for their liking.