From what I can discern, journalists tend to make far too much bother about purported leadership tensions in political parties. Above a certain point, increased titular power brings diminishing returns in terms of influence.
Take my own party, for instance. While I’m not too keen on either of the Hon. Members for Wentworth or Higgins (much preferring the Hon. Member for Bradfield), both men have nonetheless maintained in their public life a certain integrity and dignity which seems ill-served by their respective ambitious acolytes.
Assertions that Mr Costello faces a stark choice between assuming the Liberal Leadership and resigning as an MP strike me as fatuous. The Station of back-bench MP is a fine one which allows for greater detachment from the sharp end of decisions than are requisite to one fully bound by considerations of Cabinet Solidarity while still allowing for the excercise of discernment and advocacy.
As such, so long as he remains capable of doing so (confirmed by the occasional customary bout of support from his electors and pre-selectors), I see no impediment to Mr Costello honourably discharging his duties as Member for Higgins. Should it somehow come to pass that Mr Costello is eventually prevailed upon to be made Leader of the Commonwealth Parliamentary wing of my party, his resistance to flattery shown so far should place him in good stead.