Three Journalists had dinner with Mr Costello, who is reported to have spoken "off the record" about leadership, in 2005. The reporters, as would any journalist, kept notes, and say that Peter Costello said:
- John Howard could not win the next (this coming) election
- John Howard had to step down as Prime Minister by the middle of 2006, for him. If John Howard did not stand down he would work to undermine him, to the point of going to the backbench.
- Only he (Peter Costello) could lead the Liberal-National Parties Coalition to victory in this (2007) election.
However, the polls this year show voter disenchantment with John Howard. They believe him to be "mean and tricky"; his economic credibility is taking a battering from interest rate rises and housing affordability; and his leadership dominance is not as it once was. Yesterday, Peter Costello's 50th birthday, saw Liberal MP Wilson Tuckey send faxes to John Howard and other members, effectively demanding that John Howard should resign as Prime Minister. The ALP asked the Prime Minister in question time if, after 11 years, he would finally invite Peter Costello and his wife to a private dinner for his birthday. John Howard did not do that.
Peter Costello's remarks might well turn out to be prophetic. Perhaps the Liberal Party's best chance at this election is to change leader and hope that Peter Costello is still enjoying a "honeymoon" period as Liberal Party leader and Prime Minister when the election is held. Even this close to an election!