The PM would not have relished his broadsheet breakfast reading this morning. He would not have enjoyed perusing Paul Sheehan in the SMH:
With the country in great shape, but the public weary of him, Howard, at 68, should declare victory and depart. The alternative is to risk everything, including his seat and his legacy. To prove what? Costello is ready. The polls could not be worse. And his caucus is restless.
He has been given fair warning to leave undefeated, and let the young lions do battle.
Or Glenn Milne in The Australian:
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Bob Carr, premier for 12 years, would in all probability have lost this election … Carr, a student of history and therefore a realist, knew he confronted the prospect of going out a loser. That’s why, in July 2005, anxious to preserve his political reputation, he signed off as leader.
… if Costello had taken over last year he would have been much better positioned to do what Iemma did in NSW. That is, change emphasis, if not course, on the war, climate and workplace relations, effectively distancing himself from his predecessor’s record while laying claim to making a fresh start. Howard has now shut the door on this option.
John Howard has a big problem, which was highlighted by Saturday’s NSW result: in an era of almost undifferentiated policy and ideological positions between the major parties, voters demand leadership satisfaction.
John Howard is 67. He’s been around a long time. His vision is no longer fresh. The times no longer suit him. He is a “clever” politician. Oh, and he has an opponent who is delivering leadership satisfaction.