The Treasurer seems to be keeping an eye on the forthcoming vacancy at the very top of the World Bank.

Just last month, Peter Costello visited Washington and London for a meeting with Bank of England Governor Mervyn King, to attend the spring meetings of the International Monetary Fund, and meet with key US administration officials, including Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson.

Over the weekend, Costello said that the selection process to find a successor to the outgoing World Bank president Paul Wolfowitz should be “open and transparent” with candidates “not restricted by nationality”.

“At a time when the effectiveness and legitimacy of the bank need to be restored, it would be unfortunate if a truly merit-based process, allowing the consideration of candidates from any World Bank member country, were not followed on this occasion and into the future,” he said.

Deputy US Treasury Secretary Robert Kimmitt and former deputy US secretary of state Robert Zoellick have both been tipped as possible successors to Wolfowitz.

But who’s Cossie’s candidate?

Does he want the job as a potential life raft for himself? His seat of Higgins needs an 8.8% swing to change hands, according to Malcolm Mackerras. ACNielsen currently has the swing against the Government in Victoria at around 10%.

Or is he looking for somewhere to dump John Howard so he at least gets a few months in the Lodge before the cyclone strikes.

Either option is possible. As Crikey has observed before, Howard and Costello aren’t American, and they aren’t European either. Either would be a safe pair of hands –exactly the sort of compromise candidate that pops up at times like this.