Not, might I add, being cautious about who one might appoint. But to be careful to not enter into the process of influencing those whose responsibility it is to actually do the choosing.
This is advice I feel should be offered to Prime Minister Howard. In fact, should have been offered long ago. It no doubt was, but it should have been adhered to.
Now forgive me, but we live in a democracy don't we? And a democracy does not require a line of succession, or nepotism, or even favouritism...it requires that those designated to elect should elect who they see fit.
So it has always been inappropriate for the Liberal Party to say that Peter Costello is the next leader, and if they are in government then the next PM. While this may (for some) have expressed a factional reality/deal/arrangement or whatsoe'er...ancient advice would suggest that you should not count your votes before they are cast.
So it is not surprising that the ambitious Mr Turnbull is coy about whether Costello will succeed, even if he is a little more reticent today (here).
Personally were I Treasurer Pete I wouldn't trust anyone to guarantee the succession, least of all Malcolm, Tony or Alexander. Perhaps wee Johnny knew this all along and is chirruping in his glee