News that 44% of Australian voters would prefer to have Peter Costello as leader of the opposition is of course based on a false premise. As we all know, Peter Costello, desirable as he may be, is not available for the gig. He told us so on election night last November

As no less an authority than the Fairfax press reported at the time:

Peter Costello says he ”would not seek nor accept” a nomination to be the new opposition leader and instead would step away from politics for a business career.

Australia’s longest serving treasurer, who had long dreamed of being prime minister, made the shock announcement in Melbourne today, saying he would stay on in parliament for now and then move on. Mr Costello looked strained as he and his wife, Tayna, walked into a press conference at Treasury Place.

Tears appeared to brim in his eyes as he announced that his time in politics was coming to an end.

Mr Costello said he had spoken to his family and had decided to not accept the leadership.

“[I want to] spend time with my family, they’ve paid a heavy priced for [my] 11 1/2 years as the treasurer,” he said.

Journalists attending the news conference had been expecting him to come out and announce his candidacy for the Liberal party leadership.

He is to remain the member for Higgins, in Victoria, for now, saying he wanted to “mentor” younger members of the party.

And what has changed overnight, today, last week? Nothing … other than someone’s wish to add Costello’s name to a piece of polling. Those same steady hands at Fairfax have joined in the recent clamor propelled by their colleagues at The Australian, a clamor of pundits all of them eager to have a reluctant Costello resurrected. So we see Costello added to some Neilsen polling. You might as well have asked whether voters would prefer Kermit The Frog, the result would have been as telling as today’s report that the bulk of voters want Costello. The fact is, on the available evidence, neither Frog nor Costello are in the running.

That said, there is obviously a vacuum at the head and heart of the Australian Liberals. This is where Crikey readers can help.

Nominate your selection for the Leadership of the Australian Liberal Party.

We’ll total your thoughts and then let you vote for a winner. It’s almost as meaningful as polling on the future intentions of Peter Costello.

Peter Fray

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