From the pages of The Age, July 5, 2006:

In the Solomons Islands for a meeting of Pacific island countries, Mr Costello was asked directly whether there was a deal with Mr Howard over a transfer of power between the two.

“Is there an understanding between you and Mr Howard as to his departure?” he was asked.

Instead of denying such a deal, or confirming its existence, the treasurer tried to avoid the question.

“Look, these things have worked in the interests of the Australian people and the Liberal Party and the people concerned and there is no point in speculating on it,” he said.

Mr Costello said voters had their choice on the leader of the coalition at election time.

“Voters get the right to vote, that is the critical thing and they will get the right to vote on who they want to run the country,” he said.

But journalists continued to ask Mr Costello whether there was a deal, prompting this response from the treasurer.

“For I think about the fifth time, I am not going to speculate on these things and I am certainly not going to speculate on these things in the jungles of the Solomon Islands,” he said.

Malcolm Turnbull this morning under the inquisitive blowtorch that is Sunrise on the Seven Network:

Melissa Doyle asks about Nelson’s approval rating and whether or not Turnbull will challenge the leadership.

Turnbull: “The only thing I am ruling out is ever making a comment about the leadership.”

Oh dear. Here we go again.

Peter Fray

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