David Hicks? String ‘im up! Dual citizens wot commit crimes? Send the bastards home! So says Treasurer Peter Costello. Sorta-kinda, anyway.

Whatever the case, the current Cossie is a far cry from the reconciliation-walking, republic-voting bloke we used to see a few years back.

Still, that strategy worked. He got most of the moderates into his camp – as Howard haters, they had nowhere else to go. They’re now some of his strongest supporters. Is he now pitching for the right – just in case a certain short man doesn’t stay around?

Howard resignation rumours were still flying around over summer. You’ve all seen the results of the Crikey Morgan Poll putting the PM in peril in his own seat of Bennelong. And the other polls aren’t that crash hot at the moment.

We’re even seeing the scenario of John Howard losing his seat but the Coalition narrowly hanging onto office – Labor needs a swag of seats still to form government – being openly discussed.

And there’s some corridor talk that if poor polls persist, the PM could go after the Budget. He responded to our poll on Monday by saying “my position on that is the same as it has been for years and that is that I am in the hands of my Party and I will always do what is in their best interests”. He could say he’s set things up and that the poll is still six months away – and walk.

In which case the job would go to … Well, a source close to another ambitious frontbencher talked Cossie to Crikey yesterday and said “No chance!”

Peter Fray

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