Christian Kerr, Crikey political correspondent, writes:

We really shouldn’t encourage speculation on the Liberal leadership. By now we should know. The PM will go when he decides to go. Put your own spin on his comments from the Sunday program. All we’ll say is that he certainly has a good grip on the game:

LAURIE OAKES: You celebrate ten years in office early next month. It’s a long time at the top these days.

JOHN HOWARD: Yes but there seems to be more happening these days. Political life is something that moves at a faster pace now than it did in the 60s or even 70s, particularly with 24 hour a day, seven day a week media, it’s a more demanding game but it’s also more stimulating and if there’s any suggestion that I’m tiring of it, I’m not.

Poor old Peter Costello. John Howard is the best thing the Government has going for it – but the Treasurer remains its most effective weapon. Yet it seems, once again, that his pal and closest political adviser, Michael Kroger, won’t be joining him in Canberra.

“Victorian Liberal blue-blood Michael Kroger has turned his back on a long-held ambition to enter Federal Parliament,” the Herald Sunreports today.

Petro Georgiou is lining up for another go at Kooyong and,reports The Hun, he’ll have the support of Camp Costello.

There are leadership implications in that, of course. Georgiou is a savvy and ruthless player. While the Bolts and Akermans like portray him as some sort of bleeding heart, this is a bloke who was adviser to Malcolm Fraser in the lead-up to November 1975 and the party state director who gave the go-ahead for the take-no-prisoners campaign against the Kirner government in 1992. Just his presence keeps things interesting.

And another leadership contender Alexander Downer knows that. The Hun also reports:

Suspicion is rife among senior Victorian Liberals that Foreign Affairs Minister Alexander Downer is looking to use the contest to build his support base in Victoria.

Mr Downer is believed to be helping a potential challenger to Mr Georgiou, Joshua Frydenberg… a former member on Mr Downer’s staff who also worked as a senior adviser to Prime Minister John Howard.

Game on, as a certain blogger likes to say.

Peter Fray

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