In 2005, John Hewson stated during an interview on ABC Radio,
“My own view is that you will carry John out in a box. John has got nothing else in his life but this job.”
so, why would anyone place any credence whatsoever on anything Howard says about leaving politics?
Of course, he might not want to leave, or even relinquish the reigns of power at the helm of the Federal Liberal Party, but I’d suggest that if a loss does eventuate later this year, he’ll have no option but to exit through the door which I expect will be held open for him. A fourth by-pass for Lazarus might not be out of the question though.
Should the worst of all possible circumstances for the Liberal Party arise, and no serious challenge for the leadership post-election-loss present itself, then I suspect the party will become the dog it was during the late eighties-early nineties. Internal sniping, back-stabbing and factionalism. There is no real leadership material in the current frontbench ranks, and those who pretend are either too old – Downer, Ruddock, Truss, Minchin – or too inept and lacking the character at the least to carry off the position. I don’t regard Costello as a worthwhile challenger, let alone party leader. Turnbull has the ‘guts or glory’ persona to do the nasty, but has he any ‘friends’? I don’t think he’d last long enough to find out.
No, dear reader, I can’t see Howard willingly retiring in any shape or form, win, lose or leadership challenge. He never commits, and he never makes decisions before he absolutely, positively has to. “I just obviously have to give thought to my future, but I’d do the right thing by the people in my electorate.”
I think that just about says it all.