I've questioned the sincerity of some former Howard ministers' intentions to quit politics in the past. I'll be glad to see Alexander Downer go (quite possibly the politician with the most appropriate last name) and I believe he will, but my expectations are not so high for others. Specifically Peter Costello. Costello is one hell of a cunning politician, and his desire to take over the reins from John Howard was hardly a secret. Then, of course, after the thumping loss, he stunned everyone and announced he wouldn't take the leadership and instead would retreat to the back bench to serve out his term and mentor younger politicians. The cynic in me believes he just did that to avoid taking a lot of shit for the loss, come out clean, and rather than "mentor" younger politicians, gather them onto his side to launch a successful leadership challenge at the right time.
I still believe that, too. But I don't doubt some in the backrooms would like him and his fellows in the old guard gone. Will he try to hold on, and can he? The Howard era has very quickly come to be viewed with disdain, at least in an electability sense. Costello has probably lost any chance he has of winning an election in the near future simply due to his close association with Howard. I would be absolutely delighted to see this blow up into more of a feud.
In all likelihood, things will probably resolve quietly and at least some of the old guard will retire and fade from the scene, but a split within the party would, let's be honest, provide endless entertainment and surely both solidify Labour's power and give the much more unified Greens a chance for growth. As I've noted in the past, the Greens in some electorates are either the second party or close to it. If the Liberals fall into disarray, the Greens can seize the opportunity to portray themselves as the stable opposition to Labour. Thus, despite the fact they do not have much prospect of directly picking up support from Liberal voters, the establishment of themselves in a position of opposition in place of the Liberals would be an absolute boon to them. I can keep living in hope anyway.