In the opinion pages of this morning’s Australian, former John Howard chief-of-staff Arthur Sinodinos offered up some deep musings on the future for the departing member for Higgins, Peter Costello.

Sinodinos, fresh from quashing speculation on his own pre-selection bid for Brendan Nelson’s seat of Bradfield, presented three options for the former-Treasurer turned Fairfax columnist.

First, the corporate sector with some philanthropy and board work thrown in; second, execute a Colin Barnett-style reverse ferrett by knifing preferred successor Kelly O’Dwyer at the eleventh-hour and returning triumphant to Higgins, and the federal leadership, to save the party from electoral oblivion. And the third, by far the most intriguing, proposal?

Costello moving to Spring Street to topple state leader Ted Baillieu, and then seizing the helm of the state regarded as the Liberal Party’s political heartland. Sinodinos said Costello was a potential “game-changing” force south of the border.

Eager to explore this possibility, Crikey conducted a quick phone poll of senior Victorian Liberals. Who would jump on the Costello bandwagon? we wondered.

“Have a nice day,” said former state division president and long-term Costello fancier Michael Kroger.

IPA chief John Roskam (a former front-runner for Costello’s seat of Higgins) said he hadn’t read The Australian. “I’ll go and read it now”, he said, before hanging up.

Former state party director Julian Sheezel said he was “absolutely certain” Peter was going to retire from politics at the next federal election. “Peter’s comments have been very straight forward. Peter’s made his position very clear”, he added helpfully.

Former state opposition leader Denis Napthine dismissed the speculation as a Sinodinos “shower thought”.

Victorian Liberal Party president David Kemp offered a blunt “no comment” and said he was expecting another call so he couldn’t talk.

Jeff Kennett was in a board meeting and had his mobile switched off.

And Costello’s Parliament house office were aware of the Sinodinos article but refused to comment.

Sorry Peter, but there it is.

Peter Fray

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